WESTERN Europe is gripped by a growing, almost obsessive fear that it is falling victim to American economic conquest. And that conquest, so the lament goes, is spearheaded by American technology. Armed with technological prowess that European firms cannot match, giant U.S. corporations are winning control over crucial industries. Many European leaders foresee the gloomy prospect of "an underdeveloped continent," dependent upon the U.S.

The technology gap has become a sensitive issue in world politics, with anti-American overtones. What to do about it was on the agenda of NATO's ministerial meeting last month....

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