Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The European Paradox

Smiley over at The Daily Demarche has some very interesting views on President Bush's European trip. Smiley concludes that, notwithstanding all the agitation and noise, Europeans really do crave the approval of the United States.

My take on this is that the relationship between Europe and the US is that of siblings. After all, no matter how you slice it, the United States is basically Europe transplanted. Our values and culture derive from the same source. We, though Americans through and through, still tend to hyphenate ourselves and most of the words preceding the hyphen are the adjectivial form of a European country: "English-American"; "Irish-American"; "French-American"; "Italian-American"; "Swedish-American", etc.... Don't think for a minute that the Europeans are not mindful of this.

The Europeans, from their crowded, old cities, look across the Atlantic at their cousins and probably, in their heart of hearts, say: "Had we but followed the dreams of our relatives, we, too, would be in that land of opportunity." However, as in the relations between true siblings, where one has been more fortunate, jealousy can rear its ugly head; so do the Europeans begrudge the United States. Not wishing to be caught at the well of envy, though, the Europeans have reacted by lashing out at the object of their resentment -- the United States -- and trying in some desperate way to demonstrate that they are still relevant. However, having demonstrated a distinct irrelevance by virtue of their Iraq War temper tantrums, the Europeans have found themselves even further marginalized from the world scene. This has left them with two choices: to veer further away from comity with the United States or to seek some sort of rapprochement with America.

Happily, it appears that the Europeans may have begun to choose the latter. I am not confident that it will stick, but it is interesting to watch how event have unfolded this week.

UPDATE: Chrenkoff quotes German Claus Christian Malzahn in Der Spiegel to similar effect.
In Mainz today, the stagnant Europeans came face to face with the dynamic Americans. We Europeans always want to have the world from yesterday, whereas the Americans strive for the world of tomorrow.

True enough.
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