Since President Roosevelt and Primeminister Churchill met on board the Prince of Wales in 1941 to enunciate the Atlantic Charter, the United States and Europe have been united in a common shared vision of democratic socities. First under threat from the NAZIs and then Soviet Communism, America and Europe were united by a common threat. There was never total unity, but the great majority of people on both sides of the Atlantic were united in a common effort. The disolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War have changed the dynamic of the American-European relationship. Without a common threat the differing world views of Europe and America are becoming increasiungly apparent. It is not that Europe feels threatened by America, bur rather many Europeans have come to renounce a world outlook which renounces force as an instrument of national policy and look to multilateral cooperation and negotiaion to resolve differences. Americans while reluctant to use force, are continue to see military force as sometimes necessary. The mass demonstrations in Europe during early 2003 illustrated the dimensions of the split with the United States. This has resulted in differing views on how to approach the problem of Iraq's weapn's of mass destruction, but this this may be only the first of many major disagreements to come.
Since President Roosevelt and Primeminister Churchill a month before Pearl Harbor met on board the Prince of Wales in 1941 to enunciate the Atlantic Charter, the United States and Europe have been united in a common shared vision of democratic socities. This was to end two decades of self-impossed isolationism.
America and Britain in 1941 faced a Europe largely controlled by NAZI Germany. Hitler's decision to wage war on the Soviet Union, enabled the Allies to liberate Western Europe from the grips of NAZI tyrnny. For the second time in a generaion, Americ had proven pivotal in resolving the war in Europe. Only America industrial might and the disaters the NAZIs encounteted in the East made it possibke to renter Europe. In the case of World War II, America and Britain at enormous cost deliverd Europe from a tyranny of monstrous proportions.
After World War II, America and liberated Western Europe, were united by a common threat of Soviet totalitarianism. There was never total unity, but the great majority of people on both sides of the Atlantic were united in a common effort. The disolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War have changed the dynamic of the American-European relationship. Without a common threat the differing world views of Europe and America are becoming increasiungly apparent. We wonder if the French demonstrators opposing the liberation of Iraq realize that their logic would have left France it Hitler's hands out of concern for civilian casualties.
CIH receives a substantial colume of eMails. Most of our non-American eMails come from Europe, mostly western Europe. The messages ahave been very helpful in building our website because they provide insights and information on countries which we do not hve oersonal information about. Foreign nations obviously have experiences and information beyond our largly American academic and personal experiebce. We have spent some time in Britain and worked a few nonths in Italy, but our Eiropean contributors have proven invaluable. Along with factual information could personal opinions and assessments. These are value based and subjective. And we recognize that reaonable people can disagree on major issues and have every right to do so. Often there is no clear cut definitive answer. Here we do not want to present aefinitive statesibjectibe anser to these questions. But we do want to object to a disturbing tendency we see of those criticizing Ameruca of seltively choosing facts or even misrepresenting facts to support anti-American views. we have people write us and insist that America has played a negative role in Europe, has harmed Europe, and should withdraw from Europe Well here we note that NATO is a voluntary international organization with Europeans seeking to join and no country seeking to leave. What disturbs us is the numberof younger Europeans who have no idea how many times that the United States has saved Europeans. This is not a matter of opinion. It is historical fact. And thus we have decided to create a section to point out the many occassions that America has saved Europe or played a positive role in Europe's development. While World War and the Cold War are the clearest examples, there were several other times in the 20th century that America has come to Europe's rescue numerous times. In each case the goal was to protect Europeans or to promote democracy. America did not seek or claim one inch of territorial gain or control over any European country. No country in Europe can claim any kind of similar role. While historians can legitimately debate the various actions detailed here, the total thrust of the interventios is no less than the preservation of democracy in Britain and France and its extension eastward into to Eastern Europe. The prosperous and democratic Europe of today is in large measure the product of American military, economic, and humanitarian support. The ability of Europeans to freely express their opinions, even voice bitter criticism of America, is in large measure a product of a cntury of repeated American actions to save Europe. We note an interesting generational difference in how Europeans view these American actions and America's world role in general. Older Europeans are more likely to look at America and American motives in a more benign way. Younger Europeans, especially Western Europeans are much more suspicous of America. There are potential dangers to the American role. Many Western Europeans feel that the danger is American militarism and eagerness to use its military power. This opinion is strongest in Western Europe. Western Europeans only recently liberated from Soviet domination and closer to Russia tend to be much lest suspious of American actions.
While historians can legitimately debate the various actions detailed here, the total thrust of the interventios is no less than the preservation of democracy in Britain and France and its extension eastward into to Eastern Europe. The prosperous and democratic Europe of today is in large measure the product of American military, economic, and humanitarian support. The ability of Europeans to freely express their opinions, even voice bitter criticism of America, is in large measure a product of a cntury of repeated American actions to save Europe.
Massive anti-American rallies in Europe ar not a new phenomenon. Masive demonstrations in the 1980s revolved around nuclear weapons. Many in Europe were convinved that their security would be enhanced by unilateral disarmament. These protests reached a creshendo over the deploymentof Pershing intermediate balistic missles in Germany. The unilateral disarmament advocated by the ban the bomb movement would have left the Soviet Union dominant in Europe. Chncellor Kohl persisted despite enormous demonstrations. The result, in the end was to place enormous pressure on the Soviets. Finally, the Soviets, convinced that the West was resolute, agreed to scale back nuclear weapons resulting in a level od disarmament that could never have been achieved by the ban the bomb movement.
Some Europeans have comne to see America as a society dominated by a "culture of death". Many see America as a war-like society in which easily accessible guns on the steets of American cities and the death penalty are extended on the international front by the wllingness to resort to war on the international front. I am unsure how widespead these views are in Europe. A German reader tells us that this is "a bit exagerated". Interestingly this is a reversal of the American view befor Pearl Harbor that Europe was the sick society, comstantly marked by destructive wars. [Kagan] The split between America and Europe should not be overstated. Europe does not feel threatened by America. The fact that European Governments do not feel compeled to fund massive increases in defense bdgets is clear evidence of this. Another common thread in Europe is to view Americans as naive or simplistic in their approach to world affairs.
Americans are surprised as the growing anti-Americanism in Europe. From the American perspective America has saved Euroope three times in the 20th century (World War I, Wotld War II, and the Cold War) at great cost. Cynics will claim with some justification America each time acted in its own national interest and not out of altruism. The fact that an independent, democratic Eurooe is in America's national interest, however, speaks volumes about both the nature of America and the character of the Atlantic Alliance which President Roosevelt and Primeminister Churchill conceived. The altruism of American policies toward Europe emerge clearly in the food aid provided after World War I and World War II. Here even cynics are hard put to deny American altruism. Without this assistance, millions of Euroopeans, mostly children, would haved died of starvation and mal-nutrition. These simple facts are hard to didpute, although European leftidts tend to down play the danger osed by the Soviets in the Cold War. Other Europeanns insist that this is history and that America todsy plays a different role. Yet the list of American actions that have saved millions of people after World War II and extend to the present day. American occupation of Germany and Japan shrapearded a thorough gouiing democratization of both countries. America saved Taiwan and South Korea from totalitarian ruie allowing them to develop vibrant economies and democratic rule. America played a major role in ending the Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe where democratic governments are now wrestling with the aftermath of totalitarian rule. The unification of Germany was nmade posdsible because of American resistance to Soviet Communism. Ameican power stopped the mass mirder of Bosnians and Kosovars. American ended mass starvation in Somalia. It is true that American officials have not always made the best decessions or supported the most honarable individuals in the Cold War struggle. Itis also true that millions of people in Europe and Asia enjoy freedoms that they would not have without America's willing to aid in their defense. It is true that Europeans played a major role in the Cold War, but without American assistance they could not have resisted the Soviets. Even in recent times, Europe on its own borders were unable to prevent a dictatorv like Milosivich from killing hndreds of thousandc of people. Only with Ameica was the killing in Bosnia and Albsania stopped. Europeand who decry the use of force by America conveniently forget what happened when European (Dutch) peace keepers deseted the people of Sebrenecia to the Serb militias.
America and Europe share a common cultural foundation. The Atlantic Alliance was built on a sence of common destiny. There are many shared values and principles among Americans and Europeans. Those shared values were eloquently enunciated by Churchill and Roosevelt in the Atlantic Charter described above. Since World war II and even more so the end of the Cold War \, however, there has emerged some significant divergences between America and the major countries of Western Europe. The first indication of that diverge was the war in Vietnam. Europe and America are diverging on a range of cultural trends. This is resulting in the development of a different world view and, as a result, policies on a range of issues. Since the election of President Obama (2008), this trend has shifted. Europeand generally welcomed President Obama. And he is stull very popular in Europe. It is a very real question, however, if Europeans are better off as a result of the Obama presidency.
Vietnam is the most controversial war in American history. Even after several decades the debate over the war continues. American Presidents Kennedy and Johnson committed American combat troops primarily as part of a Cold War commitment to fighting Communism. The reality in Vitnam was much more complex. American officials failed to perceive the nationalist dimmensions of the War. The developing fisures in the Communist world were also not
appreciated. Perhaps the most serious miscalculation was the military assessmnent of the ability of North Vietnam to resist American military power. The role of the American press is one of the most intensely debated aspects of the War. Presiden Nixons strategy in nwith drawing from Vietnam had also beem inteensely debayed. The war was waged at great human and material cost. The impact on the American economy was significant. There was also a powerful imoactbon American culture and society.
America was founded on the European religious tradition. Discenters in Europe were especially prominent in developing freedom of religion in America, primarily because religious observation was so diverse that no single sect could dominate. This principle was eventually accepted in Europe as well. Religion continued to be important in America and Europe through the 19th century. This changed in the 20th century. America has continued to be a highly religious country. Over half of Americans attend church and consider religion to be an important part of their lives. Church attendance and membership has declined sinificantly in Europe. In many countries less han 25 percent of the population regularly attend's church. We are not sure why this difference developed. We suspect that the horrors of World War I was a major factor, compounded by totalitarian rule in the 1930s and 40s and the futher dissaster of World War II were major factors. America participated in both wars, but the American experience was very differet. Not only is church attendance greater in America, but there is a fundamentalist movement in America that has no counterpart in Europe.
America after World War II has continued to be a highly nationalistic nation. America afterPear Harbor entred World War II with an almost religious fervor. Britain an France went to war reluctantly and with an air of resignation. World War II convinved many Europeans of the futility of war and nationlism. The American experience in the War was again very different. Traveling in America one sees the flag every where. Government buildings and schools fly the flag. School children say the pledge of allegance every morning. Many individual citizens and business fly the flag. There is nothing like this in Europe. Begining with the Common Market, many Europeans are beginning to see themselves as Europeans. National identity still exists in Europe and it is unclear to what extent a United states of Europe can be forged in Europe. It is clear, howevrer, that nationalism no longer has the orce that it had before World War I.
By far the most significant divergence is that Europeans, protected by the American security umbrella, have come to renounce a world outlook which renounces force as an instrument of national policy and look to multilateral cooperation and negotiaion to resolve differences. Americans while reluctant to use force, are continue to see military force as sometimes necessary. One analyst writes that Europe "is intring a post-historical paradise of peace and relarive prosperity, the realization of Immanuel Kant's 'perpetual piece'." [Kagan] This shift in European attitudes toward the use of force began in the 1920s and in fact was the principal reason that Britain and France were unprpared to confront NAZI Germany militarily in 1939-40 leading to the fall of France. It is not entirely clear why such diffeent attiudes have emerged. Many Europeans see their view as more sophisticated and the American view as misguided cowboy bumbling. One writer sees Europe's greater tolerance for threats as a result of their perceived weakness. He argues that a man armed only with a knife is in greater danger if he attacks a bear in a forest rather avoiding the bear and hoping he will not attck. [Kasgan]
America serves a vital role in the modern role. Many object to this role, including many Americans. The European demonstrations against the War in Iraq would seem to be bubling resentment about this role, than support for Saddam Hussein and his Bathist regime. No other country, however, and ceratinly not the United Nations can play the same role in world affairs. And on ballance, the American role has been a tremendous force for good and stability in world affairs. The United States provides a world police, a global market place, a global currency, and a global example of how people of different natioanlaities, religions, and ethnic backgrounds can live and work in a democratic society. The later of course is why fundamentalist Islam has targetted America as it is an antethesis of their goals and objectives.
The Cold War is often seen as a bi-polar srtuggle between East and West. The reality was much more complicated. Framce had been humbled by the Germans in World War II. After the War, France attempted reserect its colonial empire. This led to two failed colonial wars (Vietnam and Algeria). In search of an indendent defense capability, France under General DeGualle built an atomic bomb and pulled out the NATO combined command. French leaders also
sought to develop a new relationship with Germany and out of that effort the European Union has grown helping to fashion a new Europe. The collapse of the Soviet threat has resulted in major shifts in the European American
There is of course no single European opinion. There are many different countries in Europe and a range of political thought within each country. The French seem the most distrustful of the Atlantic Alliance concept persued by the British. The Germans have until the Iraq confrontation with America in 2003 been steadfast suporters of the Atlantic Alliance. It is difficult at this time to see if the war with Iraq is an isolated event or relects a change in german opinion now that the the end of the Cold War has removed the Soviet thrrat from German borders. Notably those countries in Eastern Europe who are only newly freed from totlitarian rule are much more sympathetic to the American point of view. Many see American resolution against Soviet totalitarianism as the primary reason for the destruction of the Soviet Empire and their independence. When several Eastern European Governments exopressed their support of the America in the debate over Iraq, French President Jacques Chirac advosed them like good children they should choose to be silent. An incredible statement with the emplied threat of a French veto of applications to join the European Union. Appropriately, a Czech diplomat expressed the view from Eastern Europe, "... we are convinced that we must speak up. We ardently support the process of European integration. We stringly believe that, together with the other countries of our region, we will enich the EU with our skills , our culture and our traditions, and our political experience. .... But we are also devoted Atlanticists. We believe that what was only a dream for us in the decades after World War II is now becoming a reality: a Europe free and whole. And this dream can be realized only through close cooperation and open dialogue withbthe United States." [Palous]
Of the major countrie of Old Europe, it is Britain that has been most sympathetic to the American world view. Public opinion in Britain appears to be converging more with cross-channel Europeans. Prime-mimnister Blair appear to have taken a principled stan, despite the potential political cost. His policies on Iraq in partivcular are unpopular with a substantial portion of the British electorate. Undoubtedly, he is influenced by Churchill's dictim to never becme separated from the Americans.
The mass demonstrations in Europe during early 2003 illustrated the dimensions of the split with the United States. This has resulted in differing views on how to approach the problem of Iraq's weapn's of mass destruction, but this this may be only the first of many major disagreements to come.
One element in the widening gulf between America and Europe is the political nature of the emerging European state. The European Union is composed of nation states which are gradually surrendering their authority to the European Union structure. This is an ongoing process. Europeans today are absorbed with domestic issues and the future of Euroope. European diplomats no longer in their major role (building a new Europe) any longer diplomats in the former sence in that they no longer represent indeprendent nation states. Rather they are working within a domestic consensus to work within constitutional rules to achieve national goals. [Kissenger] This is a monumental shift in European history. It is a mindset that has been widely internalized by European public opinion. European diplomats and people appear to be extending that approch to European problems to relations with countries outside the European Union. This is one reason the American and British invasion of Iraq generated so much opposition in Europe. The fufure approach toward the Atlantic relationsship is unclear at this time. One perceptive analyst writes, "The challenge of Atlantic policy is whether the nations of the alliance can regain a sence of common destiny. In its absence, the Atlantic nations will drift inton a world order of constantly shifting constellations in pursuit of narrow national or regional concerns not unlike that preceeding World War I." [Kissenger]
Kagan, Robert. Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order (Knopf), 103p.
Kissenger, Henry A. "A global order in flux," Washington Post July 9, 2004, P. a19.
Palous, Martin. "All too familair with dictators," Washington Post March 5, 2003, p. A21. Palous is the Czech Republic Ambassador to the United States.
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