This week the European Union constitution was ratified. Timely enough two articles examining the nature of new Europe in relation to the US were published. One is from the Wilson Quarterly titled The Atlantic Widens and the other from the Washington Post.

The WQ article did an admirable job laying the background for anti-Americanism in Europe. Be aware that it spans centuries and not since GW took office. Basically the European's attitude stem from a sense of superiority, having a "richer" culture and having renounced "nationalism." What i find particularly amusing is that the attitude is typical of academicians here in the States or in the leftward media (don't ask me whether ours get it from Europe or both stem from some effect of prolonged departure from the average populace). It bears a certain amount of both arrogance and intolerance. Both shares a presumption that they know better (because they are "smarter") and because they are "clearly" right that any less is, well wrong! The worse aspect of this is how this attitude betrays the principle essential for a Democracy: tolerance. Tolerance in a democracy it is not about being right and forcing others to recognize this; tolerance in a democracy is about allowing the majority (whether it is a popular majority for a direct democracy or an electoral majority for a federalist democracy) to choose their own preference for themselves, right or wrong. Naturally safeguards are necessary to prevent the exploitation or oppression of a minority by the majority but short of this, we as a democratic people have a right to choose and have our choice respected. This is sadly lacking in the European attitude.

The Washington Post article looks to a future where the EU, a larger economic entity, will seek to rival, compete, and counter US presence globally, in essence to become a Europe superpower. I find this notion particularly laughable. This is not because the United States of Europe do not have the resources or capability to be a superpower, rather that Europe lacks the will and resolve to function as a superpower. Being a superpower requires more than a large economic market and global presence for its enterprises, it also require a driving ideology and the guts to act in alignment with ideology when challenged. The US is about capitalism and freedom; the old Warsaw pact was about communism; what will the USE be about? Peace and prosperity? And when that is challenged, whether it be Bosnia and Kosovo, Rwanda and Darfur, or Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, what was the European response? Talk and deliberation, but no action. Finally, the militaries of Europe, with the exception of the United Kingdom and France, are largely incapable of major combat operation, whether it be a thousand miles away (Nato currently command the operation in Afghanistan and had a most difficult time procuring 6,000 additional troops to safeguard the recent election) or next door in Bosnia. Certainly Europe could change, but that would mean a return to the recognition that the world is a dirty place that requires sacrifice in blood. The Iraq war highlights they have a long way to go. I see both India and China are more likely to become functional superpowers before the EU will.

Finally, this is in no way a free pass for us to continue as we are, as there is much that can be improved with our own culture and society. We should continue to seek energy independence in an environmentally sound manner, and reassess our rampant commercialism. These are just two examples. But we must not look to Europe for approval, acknowledgement, or assent to act in congruity with our ideals, for ourselves and all who would want similar. US and Europe have diverged long before the existence of the EU.

1 comment:

Bubbalo said...

Or maybe the distaste for America stems from somewhere. Down under there are also strong anti-American sentiments. Why? Perhaps it's the fact that America routinely harps on about the benefits of democracy before acting unilaterally, maybe it's that fact that American tourists are routinely rude, and often expect inhabitants of other nations to speak English for their benefit (something the French take particular umbridge with). Maybe it's the fact the US routinely go on about "saving France" out of "the goodness of their hearts" (and a quick look at the bank balance, no doubt), ignoring France's war in the American War of Independence. Or maybe it's just the fact that, throughout history, powerful nations have a attracted hate. Fact is though, Europeans are far from the only ones with a distaste for Europe.

As for Europe refusing to act, have you considered the fact that maybe that's because they lacked power? And maybe a few hundred years of Imperialist wars have taught them the benefit of letting others do the fighting? Why should they send troops to Afghanistan to solve the US' mess, just because the US moved on?