2002 October 03 Thursday
V.D. Hanson: US-Europe rift to widen

Victor Davis Hanson argues that the rift between Americans and Europeans is due more to differences in culture than to differences in military strength or any specific policy disagreements. He claims the Cold War basically required that rather different cultures ally in order to deter the Soviets and with the end of that threat it is natural that emphasis would shift toward highlighting the differences.

These old American prejudices may no longer be shared by the elites who make our policy, but they are not for that reason to be dismissed. As it happens, such mistrusts are themselves deeply rooted in essential faultlines between the American sense of self and the European. Those differences lie in our separate histories and national characters, our different demographies, our different cultures, our different approaches to questions of class and economic mobility, our different conceptions of the individual and society, our different visions of the good life and of democracy—and our very different attitudes toward projecting outward our versions of freedom. All these historic antitheses may better explain the current acrimony than an imbalance of power—often more an epiphenomenon than the cause of rifts among nations.

Volumes have been written on each of these subjects, but we can agree on the fundamental elements of American exceptionalism. The experience of the frontier encouraged a sense of self-reliance and helped to define morality in terms of action rather than rhetoric. Having no history of monarchy, fascism, or Communism, we retain our founders’ original optimism about republican government, considering it not only critical to our own singular success but a form of political organization that should be emulated by others. The absence of a common race and religion encouraged us to treasure a necessary allegiance to common ideas and values, an allegiance that has so far outlasted the attenuating doctrines of multiculturalism and “diversity.”

Hansen concludes in stating that by ending a formal military alliance the US and Europe may be able to have more friendly relations.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 October 03 06:11 PM  Europe and America

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