They Don’t Remember

I don’t know how it is for you but for me sometimes reading someone else’s post may cause the hamster wheel of my mind to turn to some other, peripherally related, subject. In this case reading James Joyner’s post about Barack Obama’s answer to the question, “Who are our top three allies?” made me wonder whether thinking about the “European Union as a whole”, Senator Obama’s answer to the question, made any sense.

I don’t think it does. It might in ten or twenty years but it probably doesn’t now. The EU is in the rather peculiar developmental condition of having both a common foreign policy and individual national foreign policies. They’re at about the same stage in their experiment with federalism that we were before our Civil War—maybe even the way we were during the period of the Articles of Confederation.

Some members of the European Union, e.g. the United Kingdom, are extremely close allies. Others, e.g. France, might best be thought of as competitors. I’ve heard some characterize those as “hostile, non-belligerent”. I think that’s probably a little excessive.

I sincerely doubt that any of the members of the EU are actually hostile to us.

Then I began to think about France and I realized that, regardless of which candidate wins the second round election for the French presidency, neither the President of France nor the Chancellor of Germany will remember a time in which the power of the United States wasn’t an important foreign policy reality. It will be the first time. They don’t remember life without the United States.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. M1EK says:

    France is a better ally than the UK. Allies do what you NEED, not just what you WANT, and as a corollary they tell you when you’re doing something stupid instead of coming along for the ride.

    Note that the French were with us in Afghanistan. As were all our real friends.

  2. Tano says:

    Agreed. France is a close ally in the fight against al-Q, and was the first to assist with troops in Afghanistan.

    The only point of disagreement was on Iraq, where they were right and we were wrong. The hatred and villification launched against them by the right in America has led to this atmosphere where their friendship is questioned, even by moderates who really should know better.

  3. carpeicthus says:

    The U.S. has been pretty important in French foreign policy since … before the U.S.