Some Thoughts on the Return of European Anti-Americanism
January 2, 2017 21 Comments
European anti-Americanism — which was on the wane during the presidency of Barack Obama, who steered the United States on a course of globalism rather than nationalism — is back with a vengeance.
Europe’s media establishment has greeted Donald Trump’s election victory with a vitriol not seen since the George W. Bush presidency, when anti-Americanism in Europe was at fever pitch.
Since the American election on November 9, European television, radio and print media have produced an avalanche of negative stories, editorials and commentary that seethe with rage over the outcome of the vote.
European criticism of Trump goes far beyond a simple displeasure with the man who will be the next president. The condemnation reveals a deep-seated contempt for the United States, and for American voters who democratically elected a candidate committed to restoring American economic and military strength.
If the past is any indication of the future, European anti-Americanism will be a pervasive feature of transatlantic relations during the Trump presidency.
Although European opinion-shapers have focused much of their indignation on the threat Trump allegedly poses to global order, the president-elect will inherit a world that is significantly more chaotic and insecure than it was when Obama became president in January 2009.
The primary cause of the global disorder is the lack of American leadership — leading from behind — at home and abroad.
A series of feckless decisions by Obama to reduce American military influence abroad have created geopolitical power vacuums that are being filled by countries and ideologies that are innately hostile to Western interests and values. China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and radical Islam — among many others — have all been emboldened to challenge the United States and its allies with impunity.
European elites have been mostly silent about Obama’s foreign policy failures, but are now lashing out at Trump for pledging to restore order by “making America great again.”
As during the Bush administration, anti-Americanism in Europe is once again being driven by Germany, a country that was effectively rebuilt by the United States after the Second World War. The Marshall Plan granted West Germany some $1.5 billion ($15 billion in 2016 dollars) in reconstruction aid between 1948 and 1951.
For the past seven decades, the United States has spent hundreds of millions of dollars annually to guarantee German security, although Germany steadfastly refuses to honor a NATO pledge to spend a minimum of 2% of GDP on defense spending. Germany spent only 1.16% of GDP on its own defense in 2015 and 1.15% in 2016. German officials are now offended that Trump is asking them to pay their fair share for their own defense.
Following is a small sampling of recent European commentary on Donald Trump and the United States:
In Germany, the Hamburg-based newsmagazine Der Spiegel, one of the largest-circulation publications in Europe, published a cover with an image of a giant meteor in the shape of Trump’s head hurtling towards the earth. The headline reads: “The End of the World (As We Know It). The issue includes more than 50 pages of related content, including an article by Dirk Kurbjuweit entitled, “One-Hundred Years of Fear: America Has Abdicated Its Leadership of the West.” He wrote:
“For 100 years, the United States was the leader of the free world. With the election of Donald Trump, America has now abdicated that role. It is time for Europe, and Angela Merkel, to step into the void….
“Trump, who wants nothing to do with globalization; Trump, who preaches American nationalism, isolation, partial withdrawal from world trade and zero responsibility for a global problem like climate change….
“We now face emptiness — fear of the void. What will happen to the West, to Europe, to Germany without the United States as its leading power?
Well, isn’t that sad? They don’t like us when we act like Americans. Boo-freakin’-hoo. Thing is, us acting like Americans kept them free enough to be able to hate us for the last century, us too, of course, which was the point. One could analyze this nonsense till the cows come home, but I doubt it is necessary. It’s simply envy.
Remember what P.J. O’Rourke wrote a few years ago (slightly NSFW) 🙂
I was having dinner…in London…when eventually he got, as the Europeans always do, to the part about “Your country’s never been invaded.” And so I said, “let me tell you who those bad guys are. They’re us. WE BE BAD. We’re the baddest-assed sons of bitches that ever jogged in Reeboks. We’re three-quarters grizzly bear and two-thirds car wreck and descended from a stock market crash on our mother’s side. You take your Germany, France, and Spain, roll them all together and it wouldn’t give us room to park our cars. We’re the big boys, Jack, the original, giant, economy-sized, new and improved butt kickers of all time. When we snort coke in Houston, people lose their hats in Cap d’Antibes. And we’ve got an American Express card credit limit higher than your piss-ant metric numbers go. You say our country’s never been invaded? You’re right, little buddy. Because I’d like to see the needle-dicked foreigners who’d have the guts to try. We drink napalm to get our hearts started in the morning. A rape and a mugging is our way of saying ‘Cheerio.’� Hell can’t hold our sock-hops. We walk taller, talk louder, spit further, fuck longer and buy more things than you know the names of. I’d rather be a junkie in a New York City jail than king, queen, and jack of all Europeans. We eat little countries like this for breakfast and shit them out before lunch.”
Of course, this guy should have punched me. But this was EUrope. He just smiled his shabby, superior European smile. (God, don’t these people have dentists?)
That too is America, Rowdy, loud, a bit uncouth, and proud. It’s something Trump taps into. Europe has never gotten over the fact that their best and brightest became Americans, as I’ve said so often, America is a self-selecting society, for the best and bravest from around the world. A prediction: we’re going to get more of their best, probably in the next decade.
The other thing about America is this, we learned long ago that to get more we don’t have to take someone else’s. We can simply make more. Grow the pie, a rising ocean raises all boats, no European ever said either one. But if you’re a small
man boy, who only knows how to run his mouth, well, making things is hard, it’s much easier to steal, especially from the poor, as we all know the basis of the welfare state.
As we enter a new administration, Europe might want to think a bit, because I think a good part of America has had just about all the crap we’re going take from Europe. Maybe their Kulaks really would prefer Putin, sure looks like it from here.
John Wayne spoke for all Americans when he said this:
“I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.” – The Shootist (1976)
Goes for our friends too.
America’s back, Jack. Deal with it. All you have to do is to want the best for all the people.