When Europe turns against America, America needs leadership with self-confidence

Ronie Berggren writes about a liberal world order that needs Europe and America to stand together. But that can only be done if the relationship between the two continents is equal. The European Union’s recent resolution condemning racism in the United States shows that it is time for the United States to confront a friend that’s gone astray. The only party that seems able to do that is the Republican party.

On June 19, the European Parliament voted to condemn racism in the United States in the wake of the uprising following the tragic death of George Floyd. The resolution demands that the United States gets to the bottom with its history of ”structural racism.”

This resolution shows Europe rapidly separating from the world order America created in the aftermath of World War II.

In collaboration with the United Kingdom, the United States defeated Nazi Germany and rebuilt Europe with American taxpayer’s money through the Marshall Plan. After the war, the United States defended Western Europe from Soviet aggression for forty years until the fall of the Berlin wall. The United States made Europe its most important trade partner and ally and at the same time also built a global world order with international institutions also financed by American taxpayers, all for the cause of stability and world peace.

All of this now seems to have been forgotten by a European Union desperately looking for new ideas to believe in after the complete historical failures of nazism, fascism, and communism.
The European Union has found a new mission: the creation of a federal Europe with the fight against climate change as its present moment’s most important goal. Before climate change, it was the idea of a common market, a common currency, and a central bank. However, no matter what goals the European Union is striving towards, the solution seems to always be the same: more centralized power and the weakening of European nation-states.

America is a republic founded on the opposite idea: 

A belief in liberty and state sovereignty is at the root of the United States’ ideal. The European Union’s decision to condemn the United States really has nothing to do with racism but a lot more to do with European skepticism towards America’s founding ideals: a nation based upon the idea of national sovereignty and individual freedom, ideas that are opposite of the transnational political ideas of Green and Liberal parties in present-day Europe.

The initiator of the EU-resolution belongs to the Green Party of Sweden. In the Swedish parliamentary elections in 2010, the Green Party shared election platform together with the Left and the Social Democrats, calling for the United States to retreat from all their military bases all over the world.
This lack of historical perspectives has now spread from Sweden and infected Europe’s most powerful political institution.

So let’s remind ourselves not only about America’s role in defending democracy in the 20th century but also America’s role in this 21st century.

It was not Europe’s ”smart power” that defeated the Islamic State; it was American moral courage combined with the willingness and ability to do it almost alone. Europe did not help in any significant way.

It is not European moral courage that confronts the rising threat from China. Once again it’s American leadership and American power.

The European Union has shown that it is not interested in American leadership but only in an American sponsorship of their own ambitions.
Therefore, the United States needs to take a stand. Europe and America need each other to counter China, to restrain Russia, to tackle climate change, and to eradicate Islamic terrorism. However, America can no longer allow an ungrateful Europe to free-ride on American military power and to keep playing along with an ungrateful Europe that only undermines America’s true character.

Therefore, the United States needs leadership with the ability not only to confront enemies but also to confront a friend that’s gone astray, a leadership that is able to see the big picture that the European Union and other international institutions ignore.

Following American politics from abroad, that leadership obviously seems to be found only in one of America’s two political parties.

The Democratic Party seems to look upon the United States the same way Europe does, as an arrogant nation founded upon the principles of egoism and racism. The party’s solution seems to be to make America look more like Western Europe.
The Republican Party, on the other hand, seems to look upon America the way the American founding fathers looked upon it: a republic founded on the ideals denied to everyone living in Europe such as liberty, justice for all, and a nation where the people are not ruled by foreign powers, but where Americans rule themselves. It’s not a perfect nation, but it’s a nation founded on perfect ideals.

The sort of leadership America needs is an America with confidence in itself, which is also the leadership the world still desperately needs even when the European Union behaves like an arrogant short-sighted teenager.

Ronie Berggren,
Author, political commentator and podcast host

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