The fact is that the European Union—with its generous welfare schemes, rejection of nationalist impulses, marginal military expenditures, and pacifist foreign policy—could only work in a world without crises. In other words, it could never succeed in the world as we actually find it. “It might never have been realistic to envision a United States of Europe,” concedes Mr. Yardley. Not realistic at all, in fact—and yet the reasons for its failures still elude liberal elites, especially those in the United States who want America to become more like Europe.
Whether from historical amnesia or ideological blindness, Mr. Yardley appears not to grasp that Europe owes much of its political and economic success to the United States. He notes that the European Union has built a stable and diverse economy, supported by democratic ideals. He explains that Europe prides itself on being a Western superpower “without the bellicosity or laissez-faire hardheartedness of the United States.” Yet Mr. Yardley fails to mention that few of Europe’s achievements would have been possible without American leadership: its moral seriousness, economic dynamism, the success of its democratic institutions, and the projection of its military power.
Robert Kagan, author and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has correctly observed that the United States created—and has sustained—the architecture for international security that made the European project conceivable. “Europe’s rejection of power politics and its devaluing of military force as a tool of international relations have depended on the presence of American military forces on European soil,” writes Kagan in Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order. “American power made it possible for Europeans to believe that power was no longer important.”
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