"Germany Ponders Opening a Door, Just a Crack, to Immigration," read a headline in Thursday's New York Times. Roger Cohen's story, datelined Berlin, noted that two decades have passed since Germany closed its doors to "guest workers." Still, more than two-thirds of the German population are opposed to increased immigration, in part because of longstanding tensions with the Turkish community in Germany, now numbering more than two million. And the high rate of unemployment in what used to be East Germany also leads many Germans to resist immigration.

Nevertheless, a committee appointed by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has recommended that Germany begin to admit 50,000 "qualified" immigrants annually. Germany, like a number of European nations (and like Japan), has seen its birthrate drop to such an extent that demographic disaster looms on the horizon. The committee estimates that Germany's population will decline from 82 million today to 60 million in 2050, with the working population declining from 41 million to 26 million over the same span.

Just above the story from Germany, the Timesran a photo captioned "Rescue Off Italy":

The Italian Navy frigate Granatiere rescued 650 Kurdish migrants yesterday after they were stranded on a fishing boat in the Ionian Sea. Italy is a popular goal for such refugees, and the new center-right government of Silvio Berlusconi has pledged to fight such illegal immigration.

In Italy, it should be noted, the birth rate has dropped even more precipitously than it has in Germany. But a majority of Italians, like their German counterparts, fear that immigration will fundamentally alter the character of their nation.

Meanwhile, the United States has entered the twenty-first century after more than a ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.