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.