By Gregorio Bettiza

Since the onset of the current financial crisis, and for that matter even before it, animated debates have taken place suggesting an impending decline of the West against the backdrop of a rising Rest. The current economic mess has only accelerated a structural process that was already underway, the “decliners” have insisted. These naysayers have it all wrong, others have argued, and the West is still number one. Just look at the crisis, highlight the “pro-number-ones”, to see that when the West falls everyone falls. The latest G20 summit in London has been held up by both camps as the ultimate revelation and crystallization of their prophecies. Power is being defused from West to East the “decliners” point out. To the contrary, the “pro-number-ones” rebut, the whole world has been once more looking to America for leadership. Paradoxically, both arguments are right, but miss an important point. America is still number one and Asia is indeed rising, but then who is declining? Europe is. This harsh truth was captured by the iconic meeting between Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao in London, when the G20 was nicknamed the “G2”…