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Gingrich, Romney rely on Eurobashing to "define their America"

Four years ago, Obama campaigned with hope and change. He ran against George W. Bush's track record, even though Bush was not running again. Today, Republicans campaign with fear and "against Europe", although Europe won't be on the ballot box in November.

For Obama, Bush was "the other" against which he defined himself. For Republicans that "other" is Europe. (See all the Poli Sci literature on collective identities and nationalism) Newt Gingrich in his South Caroline Victoria Speech according to FOX News:

Those two choices, I believe, will give the American people a chance to decide permanently whether we want to remain the historic America that has provided opportunity for more people of more backgrounds than any country in history, or whether in fact, we prefer to become a brand new secular, European-style bureaucratic socialist system.

What does secularism have to do with any of this? I think Newt Gingrich is just listing all the "bad" things he can think of and does not care for European differences.  Italy, Ireland, Poland are part of Europe and not that secular. Italy has big economic troubles, Poland not so much. I would leave religion out of it. The Scandinavians are more secular, have less economic troubles and provide more opportunities (social mobility) for their citizens than the US does.

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff from the German Marshall Fund Blog sums up the Eurobaloney on the Campaign Trail and reminds us that Americans have "traditionally understood their history, culture, and identity in contrast to Europe's."

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"Europe" is a Dirty Word in the United States

Mitt Romney's Anti-European rhetoric is stronger than the Anti-American statements by leading German politicians in the last few election campaigns. Romney seems to assume that Republican voters are so stupid, uninformed and Anti-European that he can get their votes with scaremongering.

His Europe bashing seems to be his response to the criticism of his "socialist" health care policy in Massachusetts and his French language skills. (Newt Gingrich released the attack ad "The French Connection".)

In Iowa Mitt Romney accused Obama of turning the United States into "a European-style welfare state," saying Obama's policies would "poison the very spirit of America and keep us from being one nation under God," according to the Washington Post.

In his New Hampshire Primary Victory Speech he said Obama "wants to turn America into a European-style social welfare state society. We want to ensure that we remain a free and prosperous land of opportunity. This President takes his inspiration from the capitals of Europe; we look to the cities and small towns of America." (See video at 6:30 minutes.)

Well, Norway, Finland, Denmark and even Germany and France deserve the title "land of opportunity" more than the US does because social mobility is higher. The NYT writes about five such studies.

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Drezner: GOP Abandons Italy

Dan Drezner

While Rick Perry's major league gaffe will command all the headlines, I thought the most reealing answers were given to the first question of the night -- what to do about Italy?  Here are the responses of the co-frontrunners:

HERMAN CAIN:  "There's not a lot that the United States can directly do for Italy right now, because they have -- they're really way beyond the point of return that we -- we as the United States can save them."

MITT ROMNEY:  "Well, Europe is able to take care of their own problems. We don't want to step in and try and bail out their banks and bail out their governments. They have the capacity to deal with that themselves."

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The Forces Behind the Revolution in Egypt

Who gets the most credit for toppling Mubarak? And who will be blamed if the revolution turns nasty in the next 12 months? Who inspired the events that could change history like the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 or the Islamic Revolution in 1979?

Facebook? Twitter? Rising food prices? The "liberation" of Iraq? George W. Bush? David Hasselhoff? The Egyptian Army? The youth groups of the opposition parties? The Tahrir square campers? Or the tragic narratives of the two individuals Khaled Said from Alexandria or Mohammed Bouazizi from Ben Arous?

1. The BBC has a great image of "the camp that toppled a president."

2. Interestingly, the Boston Globe, often described as very liberal, gives George W. Bush some credit. A program to fund and train election monitors in Egypt "played a key role in the movement to topple President Hosni Mubarak's regime":

The program, which provided millions in direct funding to prodemocracy groups, helped dispatch 13,000 volunteers to observe Egypt's parliamentary elections in December. Thousands of those monitors, angered by what they said was blatant election rigging, joined the protests. Some became outspoken leaders; others used the networking and communication skills they learned to help coordinate 18 days of rallies. (...)

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Obama Uses anti-Americanism in Election Campaign?

First Gerhard Schroeder was accused of using anti-Americanism to win an election. Now the British Telegraph's Toby Harnden claims that Obama echoes Europe's anti-Americanism to win the midterm elections: 

Bill Clinton spoke like a Good Ol' Boy from the Deep South, ate junk food and enjoyed trashy women. He was clever, but he did not look down on people. Obama, by contrast, has become a parody of the Ivy League liberal smugly content with his own intellectual superiority and pitying the poor idiots who disagree with him. It is an approach that shares much with the default anti-Americanism of British and European elites, who love to mock the United States as a country full of gun-toting, bible-clutching morons. (.)

Joining the Europeans in mocking ordinary Americans for their supposed idiocy may play well at big-dollar fund-raisers. In adopting this as a political strategy, however, the Democrats could be the ones who end up looking stupid.

WTF? No wonder the article received more than 400 comments since Saturday.

Five Reasons Obama would not be Elected in Europe

Denis Boyles argues in the National Review that while the vast majority of Europeans are hoping Obama will be elected President of the United States today, he would not have a chance of success were he running to lead any European country. Boyles offers five reasons why:

1. “His tax policies are frightening,” in that they are too far left for Europe.
2. “His views on abortion are way too extreme for Europeans.”
3. “His lack of experience means trouble.”
4. “He’s in love with failed ideas.” Boyles calls Obama a “socialist romantic”, compares his policies to the EU Constitution, and then argues that the dream of Obama and all liberals is to have kids raised by the state – the first argument makes no sense and the second argument is simply not true.
5. “His name, incidentally, is Barack Hussein Obama. Sorry to save this for last, but the sad fact is a politician with Obama’s racial and ethnic background wouldn’t stand a chance in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, or anywhere else in the European Union no matter how charming his speeches were.”

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Would McCain or Obama be Better for Britain?

Christopher Meyer, former British Ambassador to the United States during 9/11, writes in the Telegraph:
I have no idea - I have never met him - what Obama thinks of Britain, though in one of his attacks against Bush, he dismissively brackets the UK with Togo. McCain, whom I knew well and liked, is to all appearances a declared anglophile. But, none of this is relevant. America will act on an unsentimental calculation of where its national interest lies. The problem with the rhetoric of the Special Relationship is that it implicitly denies this reality, putting a burden of expectation on the ties between our two countries, which they cannot bear.

Whoever wins, Britain must rest its relationship with America on four propositions: is America our single most important ally and partner? Absolutely. Does this mean that our national interests will always coincide? Absolutely not. Should we stand up for our interests when they diverge from the Americans? Absolutely. Will having rows with the US from time to time fatally undermine the closeness of the relationship? Absolutely not.
While Meyer concludes with a subtle endorsement for Obama, overall he leaves the impression that neither Obama nor McCain will necessarily be better for Britain, since "America will act on an unsentimental calculation of where its national interest lies." That is, it does not matter who is president, because the United States will always act the same way, based on what is in its best interests.  As President Lincoln once said: "I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me."

However, the argument that neither president will be better for Britain (or other allies in Europe, or the transatlantic alliance as a whole) attributes too little influence to the US executive branch.  The fact is, different presidents push different policies and weigh the importance of allie's opinions differently.  If Al Gore had been president in 2003, there is a good chance the US would not be at war in Iraq (or at least would have approached it in a less unilateral way), which would have prevented the transatlantic alliance from reaching a major low following the Iraq invasion. 

McCain and Obama have different approaches to foreign relations, different world views, and different personal styles -- and one of them will be "better" for Britain than the other, regardless of events.

Social Welfare in Europe and North America

This is a guest post from Andrew Zvirzdin.  Originally from upstate New York, Andrew is currently pursuing a Master's degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy. He previously studied at Université Libre Bruxelles, University of Rome Tor Vergata, and Brigham Young University. He has worked on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament and as an Assistant Editor for Scandinavian Studies. Andrew specializes in political economy, international finance, and EU–US relations.

Andrew ZvirzdinFreedom Fries are out of style, but Europe is still taking a beating this campaign season. Republicans are gleefully using Barack Obama's recent visit to Europe as evidence that he wishes to import European-style welfare states back to the United States “to grab even more of our liberty and destroy our hard-earned livelihood,” as Mike Huckabee recently put it.

Just how evil are European welfare states compared to the United States?

OECD data indicates that the differences may not be as large as we may think. Consider two key indicators:
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