Europe Seen from the United States Part II

By | October 17, 2021

The Pentagon’s various planning documents clearly confirm the geographical reprioritisation that has taken place. Recently, the re-prioritization has been confirmed through the US major strategic emphasis on increased cooperation with India. Both attitudes in public opinion, political indifference to Europe and geopolitical analyzes therefore point in the direction of less and less American interest in Europe.

4: Trivialities and self-preoccupation

Based on its overwhelming position of power – military , economic , political and cultural- and idealistic tendency, most Americans believe that the United States should focus on the major and fundamentally important issues in international politics. On the other hand, there is a widespread American perception that Europeans often get hung up on small and trivial things. From the USA’s point of view, it seems that the country handles world conflicts, while the EU countries are more concerned with arguing about agricultural subsidies and bottle sizes. Thus, the Europeans appear a bit confused, which supports the perception that the European countries are neither will nor will be in the same league as the United States. Even a weakened Russia in terms of power politics, not to mention China, is therefore often regarded as a heavier player in international politics than the EU.

Since Europeans seem to prioritize small things, they are also perceived as self-absorbed. In American eyes, it seems to be quite difficult to get Europeans to take responsibility for important security policy tasks outside their own continent. Such a perception was reinforced by the very different reactions that the Americans seemed to register in European attitudes to the use of military force in Yugoslavia in 1999 and in Iraq in 2003, respectively.

When it came to a conflict in which European self-interests were obvious, Europeans had few qualms about going to war – even without a UN mandate. It was different in a conflict where the interests of the United States were the primary. Although NATO’s extensive involvement in Afghanistan – with significant European participation – has contributed to nuanced views, the controversy over Iraq illustrated what most Americans believe is the narrow self – preoccupation of Europeans.

5: Free passengers and talkers

During the Cold War, the economic and security burden-sharing between Europe and the United States was a recurring issue. The Americans claimed that they had to take a disproportionate share of the responsibility for allocating money to the defense, and not infrequently they regarded the Europeans as free passengers. On the American side, however, one could live with this problem as long as the protection of Europe was to be regarded as an advanced defense of the United States, a country located in North America according to cheeroutdoor, and as long as there was also an economic level difference between the United States and its allies.

However, a new threat picture and a more prosperous Europe have made this burden sharing increasingly difficult to accept, and we are constantly experiencing US demands for increased European defense funding. The problem of free passengers is nowhere near as big as many Americans would like it to be, but perceptions of this are helping to shape the view of Europeans as security policy evaders who are more concerned with increasing their prosperity than taking a lift for common security.

European self-preoccupation, prioritization of small matters and security policy evasion are perceived in part to be a result of self-inflicted American security policy “kindness”. But for many Americans, it is as much a result of what they perceive as Europe’s inability to take on heavy security policy lifts. It is a fairly widespread perception in the United States that Europe is characterized by great political powerlessness. From the American point of view, it seems as if the EU countries are discussing and adopting one security and foreign policy action plan after another without anything concrete coming out of it. The fact that the actual military gap between the United States and Europe is also widening undeniably reinforces this perception.

The perception of European powerlessness is not just about a lack of military power. To many Americans, it seems even more as if Europeans lack political will or “guts.” When the well-known foreign policy commentator Robert Kagan claims that the Americans are from Mars (cf. Roman god of war), while the Europeans are from Venus (cf. Roman goddess of love), he actually uses a striking metaphor for what are widespread American views about the difference between themselves and Europeans. While Americans are concerned with results, Europeans seem to be in love with processes. From the American point of view, the Europeans’ strong emphasis on negotiations and international consensus building is evidentalmost as a goal in itself. The more result-oriented Americans often regard this only as a necessary evil on the way to an important result.

Europe Seen from the United States 2