I love Italy. I really love Italy and I love Europe. I've lived in Italy and am heading there very, very soon to see dear friends including my co-blogger Lorenzo Zucca. I honestly cannot wait to sit down with Lorenzo and sip Chianti as we discuss our work and our lives.
But we cannot allow our love, or our rage, to blind us from the cold, complex sociological difficulties of world politics. It is this blindness that is causing the fissures between our continents.
There is a disconnect between Americans and Europeans generally that represents the root of most of the cultural and political difficulties that have arisen since the end of the Cold War. Robert Kagan summarizes this differential as such: "Europeans have stepped out of the Hobbesian world of anarchy into the Kantian world of perpetual peace."
The disconnect between Americans and Europeans is that the Kantian world cannot exist without a Hobbesian protector, nor is the Hobbesian protector as effective without counterbalancing Kantian proponents. Kant's world of perpetual peace was fraught with the dangers of despotism and internal power monopoly. Kant's "united government" required supreme military power which, after securing its territory could, over time, terrorize its inhabitants. Europe has been able to enjoy the fruits of a post-modern peace by having its security guaranteed by an outside force generally uninterested in the domestic politics of the European sphere. The guarantor is, of course, the United States.
Europe's payment for security? Open markets and access to capital. The U.S. capitalistic machine clearly cannot function entirely within its own borders, nor by relying on developing markets in Asia and elsewhere. Europe provides an outlet for goods services and a source of importation for many of the goods desired by U.S. consumers. All of this has enhanced U.S. quality of life as well as substantial benefits to European citizenry. The U.S. focus on military prowess enabled the historically instable European continent to forgo military efficiency. In fact, it precluded it, because any one of the single nations matching spending with the U.S. would be unwise. It also enabled (and spurred) closer cooperation within the context of the European Union to the point where a viable European Constitution is now up for a vote.
I feel that many in Europe believe that the hypercriticism of U.S. actions is a product of the Bush administration, but this is not borne out by the facts. When Europeans look back upon the Clinton administration with great nostalgia they ignore two things: (1) intense criticiscm of the U.S. was already present in most European countries; and (2) Clinton's differences with Bush in matters of European relations and international law was more a matter of style over substance.
The U.S. views its world as one fraught with dangers and that, while it makes mistakes, it is exhausted with being run over the coals with each one. Such results may be the destiny of the world hegemon, but it does not inspire good relations. While the U.S. should be unanimously critiqued for its poor style in dealing with its European allies, these same European powers suffer the same political grandstanding in their own domestic spheres.
So where does this leave us? Probably in the same place we began. Europe and the U.S. need the state equivalent of marriage counseling. It's clear that we're both in this for the long haul, if only we can communicate and as Bill would say "feel each other's pain."