Four years of Bush, the Iraq war, and a strengthening European Union have added a few extra oceans’ worth of distance between the US and Europe. Is that to be called drift, or schism?
“Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus,” wrote neocon policy wonk Robert Kagan in last year’s influential polemic Of Paradise and Power, deftly stealing from a pop-psych hit of a few years earlier. Perhaps so, write some of the contributors to Hoover Institution research fellow Lindberg’s thin but occasionally potent collection; but then again, perhaps not. New York Times correspondent Steven Erlanger reminds us, for instance, that Bush “is not the first right-wing Republican to claim to know the difference between good and evil: Ronald Reagan was despised and feared far more in Europe than George Bush is today.” Europe survived Reagan, and it will survive Bush, he suggests. Which leaves us, other contributors opine, with the job of mending broken fences, which may not be so badly shattered after all: as Gulag author Anne Applebaum observes, if perhaps wishfully: “As long as a handful of countries are willing to ally themselves with the United States, Europe cannot become a powerful American opponent.” Such a handful is with us, but more and more, Oxford University lecturer Kalypso Nicolaïdis argues, the world inclines toward “European arguments, particularly about the importance of international institutions and international law,” rather than toward American bluster. Drift or schism, the gulf widens. And what is to be done? Well, the US can conquer Europe and declare supremacy, which is probably not in the offing any time soon. Or, Francis Fukuyama very sensibly notes, “the problem can be mitigated by a degree of American moderation, even as it carries on a realist foreign policy within a system of sovereign nation-states.”
Solid stuff with few surprises: a think-tankish collection, important for those thinking or rethinking US–Europe relations in that context.