Anti-Americanism: Why Europe Hates Us
Let me take you back to the year 2012, when President Obama was running against the then presidential nominee for the Republican Party, Governor Mitt Romney.
During the second presidential debate, focused on foreign policy, the sitting president delivered (twice) a line that would live in infamy – he mocked Romney’s aggressive stance on Russia, whom the Republican candidate gave the plaudit of being America’s “greatest geopolitical foe.”
As it turned out (unlike Russia-mad Dems today) the DNC knew that Romney would bash Moscow, and crafted a twitter-ready retort: It read: “The 1980s called, they want their foreign policy back”.
Democrats in America all laughed, and the rest of the world, especially in Europe, chuckled right along with them.
Why did they laugh?
It wasn’t a particularly funny joke. The delivery wasn’t exceptionally well executed, either.
Were they laughing at Putin? Perhaps at a stiff Governor Romney? Or at America itself?
Were they all disciples of Francis Fukuyama, laughing at Romney for thinking that history is still plugging along – that it had not in some Hegelian fashion–ended?
Of course, it wouldn’t be long until Romney was proven absolutely right.
As the Georgians already knew from their brief war in 2008, President Putin was indeed a geopolitical threat to the west – the Ukrainians have found out the hard way, again and again.
The Eastern and Central European parties, to their credit, weren’t as short sighted as most of their Western European counterparts, who triumphantly celebrated America’s leftward lurch under President Obama.
They hated America even more than our own apologetic President.
The EU in particular showed its true anti-American stance and embraced Obama with a zeal rarely seen in modern day politics.
They nearly anointed him.
Yes, the Cold War had ended some decades ago, but the Cold War wasn’t solely about Russia and / or vs. the USA – the Cold War was about Capitalism vs. Communism.
Indeed, the western, capitalist countries spent much of the Cold War fighting with one hand tied behind their backs. The so-called “mixed economies” of postwar Europe and the US hadn’t (and still haven’t, really) given way to consistently capitalist social organizational and market structures.
Europe in particular, is indeed permanently tilted toward socialism and the Left still holds sway over most of the Continent.
America’s Reagan revolution and Britain’s Thatcherite ascendancy completely upended postwar politics in both of those countries.
Not so for Europe.
Britain, in which wartime rationing was largely still in place (a particularly wasteful kind of centrally-planned command economics) was suffering intermittent power shortages, brownouts, like some sort of developing economy, was often paralyzed by unionized labor going on strike, and had an IMF bailout for a balance of payments crisis in government finances.
America itself was suffering Jimmy Carter’s malaise: stagnant growth, price inflation and an oil shortage, which was dealt with by (you guessed it) government rationing of gasoline.
Within the space of Margaret Thatcher’s three splendid terms (1979-1990), the UK again became an economic powerhouse and has remained so ever since.
Post-Brexit ‘Global Britain’ has plans to throw off the shackles of EU regulation and become the free trading global powerhouse she once was, if allowed.
Ronald Reagan’s 1980 election would see Republican control of the White House for twelve more years, free market policies, and a Democratic party which would have felt at home in Presidents Nixon’s and Ford’s White Houses.
The transformation of the domestic economy produced such a boom that the great question of the past 200 years now had its answer: Capitalism produced immense riches that minor forms of socialism became a small price to pay for the advancement of humanity.
Democratic capitalism not only in American but also around the world raised living standards as never before, cured diseases, lead to greater longevity, and allowed peoples to prosper.
Countries, such as Cuba, North Korea or Venezuela, that remained mired in pre-1980’s social organization could never hope to give their people such standards of living.
This story is familiar to most people on the Right of the political spectrum.
What often escapes notice, however, is that most other countries in the developed West did not experience similar revolutions in their politics.
In 2018 France and Germany both largely fall under this categorization.
Indeed, whereas America and the UK experienced paradigm shifts to the economic Right of the political spectrum, France had experienced the exact opposite in 1968.
Whereas unionized labor was never again a major political force in America and Britain, French unions are still capable of paralyzing the country at will, and German unions remain some of the most powerful political entities in the world.
France sees a majority of its workforce employed by the government and tax rates you wouldn’t believe.
In truth, socialism is what’s wrong with today’s Europe and its EU project.
It also underscores why Europe is anti-American to the core.
Present at the creation of all major European institutions were politicians who bore allegiance to political stripes that have since been proven to be subpar, inferior alternatives as social models and ideals.
Conservatives and Christian Democrats have outperformed European Liberal and Socialist parties in Western European countries every time, especially the founding signatories of the Treaty of Rome.
France, a political universe unto itself, left an exceptionally deep mark on European superstructures, as the most powerful and influential of European countries until it was supplanted by the unified (and more capitalist) Germany.
France’s dirigiste centralized power structure is the lay of the land to this day in the European Commission.
To make matters worse, the trend in America was, until Trump’s election, going in the same, wrong direction.
Forty per cent of the American public it was found preferred socialism to capitalism.
A poll of millenials turned up that a third of them think George W. Bush killed more people than Joseph Stalin.
So much for facts and a solid civics education.
At the same time, the trend on the left has turned – multiculturalism has become a more powerful force than labor solidarity.
Whereas unions across the West opposed liberalizing immigration rules in the 1970’s – migrants were seen as competition to unionized labor – the broader left has now decided that fully “open borders” is the only just state for immigration laws and illegal sanctuary cities are to be blessed, not cursed.
Tellingly, the unions never budged on their protectionist position, and many of them it appears ended up backing Donald Trump for President during the 2016 election.
In fact, on close analysis it is how he won!
This, as many other positions from the Trump administration, has been horrendously misinterpreted.
The Trumpian insight is that globalization can only be free-market and fair, if devoid of government intervention everywhere, not just in America. Europe hates hearing that message.
Currency manipulation, impossible non-tariff barriers and outright national preferences will always be facts of life in countries that still have communist parties in power. Europe insists on acting like this position is unacceptable.
And yet, the European Commission has itself imposed steep antidumping tariffs on Chinese steel various times.
Similarly, the media has made it sound like a flip-flop when President Trump said he now supports NATO, which is not entirely obsolete.
Seemingly, they must have forgotten that the “NATO is obsolete” rhetoric was replaced with “they’re now dealing with terrorism because of my criticism” months before the election.
Trump mentioned that during nearly every campaign rally after NATO began implementing an anti-terrorism agenda, and was one of his major talking points.
But Trump never gets the deserved credit.
Nor does his insistence on Europeans sharing the burdensome cost of their own defense and security. Socialists like ‘free’ things.
The culprit here is a not only shortsighted European politician with anti-American sentiments; it is the press, which refuses to come out of its bearish inclination to bash/hate the US President.
The media leads the Trump resistance forces.
Must he continuously pay lip service to NATO after they significantly changed their position to reflect his views of current security priorities? After more countries are now finally paying up?
The double standard is in plain view: Lest we forget, Obama’s State Department was literally recorded saying, “Fuck the EU” and didn’t suffer the pile-on that the Trump administration has received from the press and so many European politicians.
This is despite Europe’s agreement with his new actions, whether in Syria or NATO or on economic policy (not climate change).
Press alarmism is still in a bear mode when it should be bullish, and the politicians (Democrats in the US included) who are naturally inclined towards anti-Americanism are chomping at the bit to keep criticizing this “failed” presidency.
The American press must realize that they are playing into the hands of a latent anti-American strain in the EU, and that the old rule that politics stops at the water’s edge should count for — Republicans as well as Democrats.
Most importantly, we cannot normalize this behavior among European politicians.
Loathing the American President is unacceptable. Looking down on Americans as fascist is unhistorical and without evidence or merit.
It should never be accepted as the legitimate norm.
Right now, it seems it is acceptable to be anti-American, in Europe, as long as a Republican is in the White House.
I hear all the time in European capitals—“when can we get Obama back?”
This administration’s priority in Europe should from this date on be twofold: Make better friends, and let everyone know, that alliances aren’t dependent on political parties.
You’re either a friend of the US and pay your fair share of the burden, or you are anti-American, no matter which party holds the presidency.
Ted Malloch is the author of Davos, Aspen and Yale