2002 October 28 Monday
Charles A. Kupchan: The End of the West

Writing in the November 2002 issue of The Atlantic Monthly Charles A. Kupchan sees the US and Europe splitting in a way analogous to the split between the Eastern and Western Roman Empire:

As Byzantium did with Rome when it separated from its former overseer, the EU is making a run at the United States. And just as the Byzantines and the Romans parted ways over values and interests, so have the Europeans and the Americans. The two sides of the Atlantic follow different social models. Despite recent deregulation across Europe, America's laissez-faire capitalism still contrasts sharply with Europe's more centralized approach. Whereas Americans decry the constraints on growth that stem from the European model, Europeans look askance at America's income inequalities, its consumerism, and its readiness to sacrifice social capital for material gain.

The two have also parted company on matters of statecraft. Americans still live by the rules of realpolitik, viewing military threat, coercion, and war as essential tools of diplomacy. In contrast, Europeans by and large have spent the past fifty years trying to tame international politics, setting aside guns in favor of the rule of law.

As long as the USA is out in the Hobbesian world playing Realpolitik hardball and the EU is trying to play in a fantasy world where it imagines the rest of the governments can be persuaded play by the EU's interpretations of the rules of international law the EU is not going to rival the US in power and influence. Also, longer term demographic trends (lower birth rates and a shrinking and aging population) do not favor the EU's bid to become a power that rivals the US. Plus, they want to support their welfare state and that puts a crimp on their military spending. Nonetheless, there is still a real problem developing here. The EU can play a foil to the US and become less supportive of US efforts and thereby decrease US power marginally. Most worringly, as the EU's power becomes more centralized it will eventually take the UK away from the US as an ally.

Update: An earlier essay in April 2002 issue of The Atlantic by Walter Russell Mead (he the author of Special Providence: American Foreign and How It Changed the World) catches the view of those in America who don't think the EU is going to become a serious rival to the USA:

Europe hopes for a world role more or less equal to that of the United States. Jacksonians roll their eyes. Jacksonians think that Europe—with a declining and aging population and an economy likely to grow more slowly than most of the economies of the developing world, to say nothing of the United States'—is likely to continue to lose influence.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 October 28 12:01 PM  Europe and America


Comments
chaosananda said at April 29, 2003 11:32 AM:

Hi,
It is a mistake to think that EU will not bounce back economically and Military .

Where on the earth USA believes that Europe has to be an allies always!

The very Essence of USA structures demands that they will be the first to survive in a chaos and anarchist International system.

US needs to learn that they have to build new models of partnerships with other countries .

The ability to build partnerships in a chaos system and play more that the system of International relations stay chaos ,it will be difficlt for EU to muster enough Speed in this kind of Current!

US is ignoring many developing countries that have the potential to be democratic and assist them nad partner with them.

Us has aculture that will make mistake but will also rectify it as swiftly as possible.
This myth that US will End is all poppy cock.
The Repertoires that US has today can be a learning experience to drift them from committing mistakes that earlier Roman did !

US is and need to reivent themselves.
The dependence on EU has been US biggest mistake as it is in contradictory of the very essence why US is born !
It is healthy taht EU mends their bussiness ,but is is also true that US need to learn to build and trust other Partners.
Surely EU will be a big player if US fails to partner and build other moels of democracies and capitalist framework.
We have not seen the whole of Capitalistic system ,it has more in the pocket than we imagine!


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