For far too long, America and Europe have had a very one-sided relationship. It is like a codependent marriage, in which one partner sacrifices his or her own needs for those of the spouse. That person’s actions will completely revolve around the other person, and he or she loses all sense of self.
This relationship has existed for many decades. It was based on the crazy notion that emerged after World War II that the United States would fully pay to defend Europe by putting troops there, supporting and rebuilding its economies, and treating its allies in the transatlantic relationship as perpetual friends rather than as foreign interests. It was never sustainable as a permanent arrangement. Yet even today, under Joe Biden, we find the United States sliding back into this old version of itself by too often putting Europe, instead of America, first. The ordinary American citizen is sick and tired of footing these costs for European security.
The Eurodollar came into being with the Marshall Plan and between rebuilding work and the mass export of “white goods” from America’s industrial heartland, the pre-1991 zenith of American power could be seen in Britain’s ration lines and France’s trente glorieuses. Germany narrowly avoided total dismemberment and deindustrialization, although the French proposal to turn it into multiple pastoral states may yet be vindicated by history someday.
Just look at how far Moscow’s powers have fallen since 1945. The kleptocratic petro-state is in shambles—nearly worthless except for all its old nukes and oil and gas. The unnecessary Ukraine war, which is not technically even part of Europe, officially—only Western Ukraine has a history of being in the Austrian Empire—easily could have been avoided, if only Biden and the EU had acted promptly and with foresight. Instead of waiting, backfooting, and listening to all the European gripes and needs for yet more Russian oil and gas and the pipelines to transport them, we would be in a radically different place today if Biden had simply ignored all of that noise. Biden already botched this issue during the Obama Administration, so there were really no surprises there. He’s Biden after all—long on gaffes and short on strategy.
While we once shared deep-seated values with Europe—indeed the complete understanding of Western civilization itself—that is no longer the case. Europe is adrift, separated from its past Judeo-Christian mores, and has become the font of secularism, socialism, the administrative state, relativism and decadence—all things a majority of Americans hope to avoid. The term “Eurotrash” may mean one thing in the music and social world but it implies real trash in a wider cultural sense.
The Trump Administration made it abundantly clear that the United States is no longer interested in the old forms of European integration, the old way of using American might and money. In fact, many of us thought it might even be possible to encourage a reversal of the EU’s accelerating drive to a socialist, protectionist, United States of Europe. Well, it was a wish, anyway and we tried.
The Reality of Modern Europe
This modern Euro-movement should be seen for what it is. It is very harmful to U.S. business, to U.S. investment, to U.S. security, and is categorized by over-regulation, low growth, high unemployment, and structural rigidity as its outcome. The United States should therefore encourage more bilateral trade with Europe but make firm its opposition to a federalized Europe by opposing a single continental government. Let’s say openly what is taken for truth, anyway: The European Union has become a multipolar rival to the United States and while, on occasion somewhat friendly, it has its own interests and they are not the same as ours. They thought nothing of ignoring our warnings about Moscow and Putin for decades—now the chickens come home to roost.
It is therefore time to re-evaluate key U.S. assumptions about Europe. This means America should reappraise its entire relationship with Europe and its future union or disunion. It should rethink the strategic commonalities, treaties, and current arrangements.
The long-held State Department view, since John Foster Dulles, has been that the best way to achieve peace in Europe is by uniting it. The Franco-German relationship was at the center of such thinking. But the question today is what kind of Europe, and what kind of union, do we actually want? And dishonestly encouraging Ukraine to be part of it has turned out to have been a very poor idea. Defining Europe, what it believes or does not, where it starts and where it ends, who is in and who is out—is decidedly not the job of America, as we have our own nation to run.
Looking Ahead: Neither Pro Nor Anti EU
What is in the U.S. national interest looking ahead? Does what used to be called a European Economic Community necessarily equate with the evolution of a single pan-European government? I think Europe lost its way after it signed the Treaty of Rome.
Since the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 and all the other treaties since, does this policy make sense? Or are there fundamental flaws in such a pro-integrationist logic, as detailed by the likes of the intellectual giant, the late Lord Ralf Dahrendorf and so many others like him? Is the European Union in need of a total redefinition?
We in the United States realistically also need to ask: What are the dangers of a failing EU? These questions too should be considered as the consequences and sequencing have wide-ranging ramifications. No one wants Europe to fail or instantly disintegrate. The United States is not anti-EU but it cannot be pro-EU, either. The spectacle of Biden and Ursula von der Leyen sharing a stage as presidents of the political West is the most glaring symptom of what this fawning achieves: The U.S. presidency is nationally elected and combines the head of government with head of state of positions of a sovereign nation-state in one man. Von der Leyen instead presides over the European Commission (an international organization) as a sort of head of government by vote of the European Parliament (where she almost lost). The two positions are not homologous in the least, but are treated as such out of deference.
We do know that the United States and the UK are different from Europe: We want democracy and accountability, while the EU is intrinsically undemocratic and unaccountable. So should the United States continue to promote such a damaged European model, which is alien to our own traditions? Is it not working against U.S. interests to do so? Most certainly it does not put America first.
We should be keenly aware that America has long historic ties to Europe; that our genealogy and kinship run deep. Despite our large contribution to post-war European development and democracy, not to mention costly security efforts, anti-Americanism abounds in Europe today. Why is that the case and how has it grown?
Why are the Europeans and their institutions so ungrateful? The answer is anti-American resentment of American power. Believe me, anti-Americanism is not an abstract idea in Europe, nor is it confined to leftists and other “usual suspects.” It influences all of culture and policy-making across the EU. Nobody has celebrated China’s rise more than your average Eurocrat, at least until they realized that (like the Taliban) they had no time for their baizuo BS.
EU as Protectionist Racket
The EU also uses the cloak of antitrust activity as a way to implement its anti-U.S. industrial policy. It’s not just Microsoft. The list of companies affected is long and growing longer. The European Commission seeks to regulate any case involving large foreign companies which threaten or undermine EU business interests. The EU is a protectionist racket run to benefit the weak and inept EU companies.
This mindset, and particularly the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy, also distorts the world economy and any notion of fair trade. The EU offers favorable subsidies to European farmers over aid or increased trade with the United States and developing countries.
Did you know, for instance, that the average EU subsidy to cows is an amazing €862 a year per cow? Lucky beasts!
American interests are further undermined by the EU’s many inherent internal contradictions—social, economic, and political—which undermine U.S. beliefs and interests.
Chief among them are the Euro, a totally flawed common currency. The Euro offers little insulation from economic shocks and relies on fiscal transfers at the EU level to iron out myriad economic imbalances. This equates to papering over cracks in the EU’s component economies, which range from highly industrialized to nearly primitive.
It has also, as demonstrated by former World Bank chief economist, Joseph Stieglitz, (see: The Euro and Its Threat to the Future of Europe) tilted the tables toward the benefit of Germany. Germany’s current account surplus is a huge eight percent of GDP, which imposes a deflationary bias on the entire Eurozone. The EU has achieved for Germany what two world wars could not. Germany über alles has become the unofficial theme of today’s European project; involuntarily, in the case of many of its member states.
The Anti-European EU
The basic fallacy of the neo-functionalist philosophy underlying the EU is the assumption that political integration can be achieved through economic integration. This is a mistaken assumption further aggravated by the forced pace of such integration. The fundamental anti-nationalism inherent in a pooled sovereignty situation cannot function fully unless there is a final federalization—a politically impossible step which has never seemed imminent.
The cure to Europe’s calamity is genuine democracy—government by the people not by unelected bureaucrats parading as experts. Members of the European Commission are not elected and are democratically unaccountable—the famous democratic deficit. Such a globalist elite and its attendant superstructure is detached from the people and therefore ironically, entirely anti-Western.
NATO, of course, has served as the centerpiece and backbone of a U.S.-European alliance on defense, security, and foreign policy. But since the St. Malo declaration in 1998, Europe has been turning its back on the United States and on NATO. It has pursued a separate defense to rival NATO and the United States. It has always taken the specter of Moscow’s interference to keep the herd together, and while Putin’s aggression is in some ways a welcome fillip to Allied solidarity, it shouldn’t have taken an overt Kremlin confirmation of NATO’s necessity to ratify its continued relevance.
In fact, EU defense is no longer seen in the context of NATO. The Europeans say they want their own fighting force—preferably a cheap one. Burden sharing has always been a thorny issue for Europeans, as most countries refuse to pay the two percent of GDP that has been agreed. They are clearly freeriding on U.S. largesse. Now they say they will step up by 2024, but haven’t we heard this song before? Does anyone believe them?
Further, the EU increasingly openly works against U.S. interests abroad—in the Middle East, Israel, Iran, on energy, Cuba, at the UN and the list goes on and on. And America with a blind eye just looks the other way. No longer. When President Trump was on watch, Europe inched forward and at least accepted burden sharing. Now we are back to the same old game and Biden is so easy to play—his regime is weak and won’t defend America or its interests. He wants a globalist set of institutions to frame the world order and the EU is at the top of his list.
The United States in the first days of the Trump Administration tried to re-examine its historical policy toward European integration from the lens of America First. The argument we made was that present policy cannot continue as the assumptions are flawed and no longer bear fruit. The Europeans didn’t like that. Perhaps you remember the picture of Trump lecturing Merkel, et al., in a heated NATO summit.
Of course, the transatlantic alliance must continue. Good European-American relations are absolutely essential for some semblance of peace and world order. But European integration is not at all in America’s interest. The time for having America foot Europe’s bills and fight its wars is long over.
European polities claim they share the values of democracy and freedom. They should be tested. Put the EU to a referendum vote in every member country, just like the UK did. It is time for greater skepticism and realism about the European Union and its not so hidden agenda and “ever closer union.”
Brexit gives the United States an opportunity for a pause—to appreciate that the EU is actually weak and getting weaker. Under certain scenarios it could even begin to come apart at important seams, like a country dropping out of the Euro or the Schengen agreement being suspended during pandemic emergency periods. The United States therefore needs to bolster its existing and strong relations with each of Europe’s member states—not all of which even belong to the EU. The United States must not be anti-European; it should be simply pro-American.
Take note: the architecture of the world is changing, shifting to more reliance on sovereign nation states and away from integrated blocs or supranational globalist entities.
Our dealings with Europe should also change, accordingly. In Between Kin and Cosmopolis, Oxford political theologian Nigel Biggar provided a much-needed ethic of the nation. This is where Europe should look for answers, not to a project of further integration and thorough-going woke state socialism.
The U.S. interaction with Europe needs to be changed, accordingly.