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Anti-European Schadenfreude Rising?

When Foreign Policy featured an article on Anti-Europeanism in the United States as "Today's FP" cover, I got intrigued, but I was disappointed when I read this article Guardian columnist Simon Tisdall, which currently is FP's most read piece of the week. Old arguments about the Iraq war debate and last year's Obama trips to Europe.

Here are the more interesting paragraphs regarding the reason for Anti-European attitudes:

Fear, envy, anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, cultural inferiority-superiority complexes, trade, political and military rivalries, and America's quest for identity all fed anti-European feeling as the new country sought to differentiate itself from the old countries whence most of its people came. Many of these phenomena remain relevant today.

"Expressing one's anti-European sentiment can be a way of building up and displaying one's American identity and patriotism," said Patrick Chamorel in a European University Institute study published in Italy in 2004. "Anti-Europeanism has always been part of American exceptionalism, which defined itself in contrast to European history, politics, and society."

It would be easy for Europeans to shrug off America's Europhobic generalizations and mischaracterizations if they were exclusive to would-be-intellectual neoconservatives, Bible Belt evangelists, and provincial Midwest xenophobes. But ever since the European Union dropped the ball in the Balkans in the mid-1990s, a potent mix of influential American thinkers, policymakers, and commentators have given anti-Europeanism a new respectability that cannot be dismissed out of hand. On the major issues that preoccupy Americans -- defense, security, terrorism, intervention, free trade, sovereignty, and nationalism -- the argument that Europe has lost its way has gained in influence. And as a debt-laden European Union stares at the fiscal abyss, one can almost feel the schadenfreude emanating from across the pond.

"Almost feel the schadenfreude emanating"? Does it get any more vague than that? Read the FP article Venus Envy and come back here to comment, if you like.

Anxiously Waiting on a Trojan Horse

Guest post by Joe Joe Noory is an Architect, investor, and independent observer of news and opinion:

Somewhere between the emotional populism of wanting to burden the higher performing European states with guilt over resisting to bail out the Greek government, and the risk investors are being offered to take are the hard truths of bailing out of the broke Greek government by investing in their bonds: they might not just default on ?8,5 billion in obligations to bond purchasers due on 19 May, but run the risk of never being paid back for future bond offerings (of perhaps two years or less), much in the way depositors in an uninsured failed bank will never see a red pfennig of their invested savings on a default.

Ifo's Hand-Werner Sinn indicated that very same sentiment on Wednesday morning, according to this wire piece:

The warning came as a new poll showed nearly two-thirds of Germans were opposed to helping Greece, with a majority believing that membership of the EU brought more disadvantages than advantages. Asked on MDR radio if Berlin would ever get its money back, Sinn, who heads the Ifo institute and is one of the top economic advisers to the government, said: "To tell you the truth, no."
Greece "will not be in a position to carry out the necessary budgetary rigour" and will eventually have "to ask for Germany to waive the debt," he said.
He warned that bailing out Greece could set a precedent for other euro area countries labouring under high debt and public deficits. "It would be understandable if the Italians or the Spanish put pressure on us to pay up now because it is an important precedent for them," said Sinn.

Before you react, take the statement for what it is: a warning. It isn't a characterization of the ur-Greek citizen, or a nationalistic reflection, or a cultural issue, but a warning that the discipline to raise revenue and cut budgets in face of the street protests and strikes of civil servants and dependants on entitlements. It isn't a characterization of what they did, but a warning of future events, one which prices them and tells us what something is really worth, just as watching those who short an equity or commodity does.

Continue reading "Anxiously Waiting on a Trojan Horse"

NATO to Develop Contingency Plans to Defend Baltics

“Thanks to Poland, the alliance will defend the Baltics”, reports the Economist:

IN A crunch, would NATO stand by its weakest members—the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? After five years of dithering, the answer now seems to be yes, with a decision in principle by the alliance to develop formal contingency plans to defend them.

Speaking in Prague in April 2009, President Barack Obama publicly demanded that NATO develop plans for all of its members, which put the Baltic case squarely on the alliance’s agenda. But in the months that followed, inattention and disorganisation in his administration brought no visible follow-up. Instead, snubs and missteps, particularly on the missile defence plans, deepened gloom about how seriously America took the safety concerns of its allies in Europe’s ex-communist east. An open letter by security bigwigs from Poland, the Czech Republic, the Baltic states and other countries publicly bemoaned the decline in transatlantic relations.

...

Now that seems to have changed. Formal approval is still pending and the countries concerned have been urged to keep it under wraps. But sources close to the talks say the deal is done: the Baltic states will get their plans, probably approved by NATO’s military side rather than its political wing. They will be presented as an annex to existing plans regarding Poland, but with an added regional dimension.

A proposal to create Baltic contingency plans has been shot down before, according to Baltic Reports:

General James Craddock, NATO’s supreme commander at the time, asked the alliance for approval of a contingency plan for the Baltics in October 2008. However Germany and France opposed the measure, fearing it would unnecessarily agitate Russia, and the issue as been debated in secret within the alliance since.

It should be interesting to see how this develops. Formal contingencies established or not, my feeling has always been that if any NATO member is attacked, the Alliance will invoke Article V, the mutual defense clause. Article V is the core foundation of the Alliance -- if NATO failed to defend one of it’s members, that would shatter the Alliance. Perhaps this perspective is too idealistic though?

Europe's Strategic Irrelevance

Richard Gowan of New York University and the Global Dashboard blog, has some wise remarks on Afghanistan in The Indian National Interest Review:

The quality of strategic debate on Afghan affairs in EU capitals is far lower than that in Washington. "We ask what pulling out of Afghanistan would mean for the transatlantic alliance," one respected French strategist admits, "but not what it'd do to Afghanistan."

He could go further. Although European commentators are typically well-informed about Pakistan's instability, they rarely put "AfPak" in a wider strategic regional context. How would a NATO failure in Afghanistan affect relations between China and India? What impact would it have on Russia's Central Asian ambitions, or Iran's defiance of the West? These are not questions you are likely to hear seriously discussed in Europe. (.)

European analysts who see Afghanistan in transatlantic terms ("What does this do to NATO?") are in denial on this point. The future of Afghanistan is clearly of far greater significance to the triangular strategic relationship between China, India and the United States than it is to European affairs. But no-one likes to admit they are a second-order issue.
I agree. I think it is a big problem, that Europeans view so many foreign policy issues in regard to its effects on Europe's relationship with the big brother/uncle/cousins on the other side of the Atlantic.

Endnote: Check out on this topic: Towards a post-American Europe: A Power Audit of EU-US Relations. No more special relationships: Europe is wasting its "Obama Moment"

Obama Does Not Care about Europe?

When he was a senator, Barack Obama was criticized for failing to convene a single policy meeting of the Senate European subcommittee, of which he was chairman. In January 2008 I wrote the post: Barack Obama's Lack of Real Interest in Transatlantic Cooperation

Now, one year after his election, Obama is very popular in Europe, especially in Western Europe, even though he "has done much less for Europe than his predecessor," argues Dr. James Joyner of the Atlantic Council:

Despite George W. Bush's defiant "you're with us or you're against us" public stance, he actively solicited advice and input from his NATO partners. Obama, by contrast, is saying all the right things in public about transatlantic relations and NATO but adopting a high-handed policy and paying little attention to Europe.

And many important working-level posts in both the State Department and the National Security Council (NSC) are unfilled, says James Joyner:

Continue reading "Obama Does Not Care about Europe?"

Old Europe Drifts out of Recession First

The Economist:

Figures released on Thursday August 13th showed that the euro area's GDP shrank by just 0.1% in the three months to the end of June, far less than the 2.5% slump in the previous quarter. The near stability was the result of an early exit from recession in the region's two largest economies. The economies of both France and Germany grew by 0.3% in the quarter, surprising analysts who had expected the figures to show small contractions in output for both. As badly as these economies have suffered in the past year, there will be some pride that the economies have started to grow before those of America or Britain.

The Obama Administration's Engagement of Europe

President Obama has made "an unprecedented three trips to Europe during his first six months in office (including heavy lifts in Turkey and Russia)," writes Damon Wilson, Director of the Atlantic Council's International Security Program. Yet, most of his praise goes to Vice-President Biden, who flew four times over the Atlantic to make major policy announcements:

He proclaimed the Russia reset policy in Munich and previewed the administration's AFPAK review at NATO - and tackled the toughest issue on the continent: how to advance a Europe whole and free that includes the Balkans and Europe's East.  He has advanced a vision for Europe that has long enjoyed bipartisan support, but over which many, including some in the administration, have cooled as we've hit more difficult tests with Ukraine and Georgia.

Wilson concludes that Biden's four trips have helped define the Obama Administration's policy toward Europe. Moreover, rather than repudiating George W. Bush's Freedom Agenda, "Biden is rebranding it to ensure that its objectives in Europe sustain bipartisan support." Is it too early to evaluate this "rebranding" or the new administration's policy in general?

Kos Poll: Americans love France and Europe

The left-wing US blog Daily Kos has let Research 2000 do a poll on some of the purported 'boogeymen' of the right, including France and Europe. It turns out that France and Europe are almost universally loved by Americans. France has a 66 to 26 favourability rating, and for Europe the rating is 63 to 29. Favourable opinions of France and Europe exist across ethnic groups and party lines, but there is some regional difference: southerners have an evenly split opinion of both France and Europe.

This is quite a dramatic shift in opinion among the American population from four years ago, when the (more conservative) pollster Rasmussen reported that 57% of Americans held an unfavourable opinion of France.

Opinions of France have probably improved as a result of the improved political relationship that started with the election of Sarkozy, and were reinforced by the election of Obama. At the same time, they might deteriorate again if there is another major diplomatic disagreement between the two countries. Right now, the French and Americans have important reasons to stick together as they are both threatened with 'revenge' by Somali pirates...