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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Bashing Europe

Well, well, well.

Now I am the last one not to criticize European leaders for their lack of action and coordination, but I do feel that some criticism leveled at Europe from the US (conveniently?) forgets to put into account some aspects of European contributions.

1 - Europe (as a whole) has by far the second most impressive military in the world. Would Americans really want the EU to start competing with them too?

2 - American security provision exists only when American (hegemonic if you want) interests are concerned (see the lack of activity in Albania and Macedonia). Plus, if that provision includes starting (or continuing) unnecessary wars all over the place (Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iraq to name just a few) I have to wonder why European accounts should even be charged for it.

3 - For the war that Europe supported (Afghanistan) Europeans have provided nearly as many troops as the US did.

4 - If you put development aid into account, European spending on world affairs is not really all that much smaller than that of the US.

5 - Without European support (intelligence, infrastructure) wars such as in Iraq would be virtually impossible for the US or in the least far more expensive (in political and financial terms).

What else? Criticism from the US that Europe is only willing to coordinate on their terms is quite amusing of course (Kyoto anyone? the ICC?), I am not even going to really comment on that.

I could try to respond to some of the more specific accusations against the European (non-)activities on economic/financial questions. Let it suffice to say that some American beliefs simply are not shared by a large majority of European politicians (fiscal stimulus!) so why should they adapt their policies in order to please a partner with whom they disagree? And that the difference between $99,7 million and $100 million is not something that I would describe with the word chunk.

One last, and more important, note though. I understand some of the criticism leveled at Europe (if not its tone), but all those people clamoring for more European contributions hopefully realize one thing: It'll come at a cost. Europe having its own security/defense forces will not let itself be pushed around by the US on foreign policy issues. The same is true for virtually every policy field. Be sure you know what you wish for is all I can say. Me, I think Iraq, this crisis, the G20 all mark very much the twilight of the American unipolar moment.

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