TCS Daily

The Disappearing Alliance

By Dale Franks - October 8, 2002 12:00 AM

For over two generations, the countries of Western Europe have been our closest allies. We stood beside each other through the darkest days of the Cold War as partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. We celebrated with them over the fall of the Soviet Empire and the liberation of Eastern Europe from the yoke of communism.

Tragically, a generation from now, we may be bitter adversaries.

Europe has increasingly fallen under the spell of a political ideology that Hudson Institute scholar John Fonte has termed "progressive transnationalism". The key doctrines of this form of post-communist progressivism contain some fairly pernicious ideas. Among these are the deconstruction of nationalism, the promotion of post-nationalist ideas of citizenship (i.e. a "global" citizenry), a redefinition of democracy, and the pooling of national sovereignty into multinational groups such as the United Nations.

The European Union, itself a multinational organization built through the pooling of sovereignty by European nations, is post-democratic. While there is a European Parliament, the EU's power resides mainly in the unelected European Commission (EC) and its unelected President, who face few limits to their power. Instead of a limited, consensual form of government, where elected representatives promulgate constitutional laws, the EU has an appointed, oligarchic executive, along with a large attendant bureaucracy, whose orders are not constitutionally limited in any real sense. Moreover, the EU has been unwilling to accept the democratically expressed wishes of the people themselves when those wishes conflict with the results desired by the EU's political elite. Both the EC and the European Court of Justice regularly overturn the national laws of democratically elected EU member governments. This is a step backward in Europe's political development.

European criticism of America is on the rise, and the European list of complaints about America is a long and growing one. They dislike the fact that our republican system of government is not based on proportional representation. They hate the fact that our citizens own guns. They despise the fact that we execute murderers. They resent the fact that our economy is so large, and that Americans consume so much. They also resent-and fear - the fact that we have the ability to project American power anywhere
in the world.

On August 9, 2002, Adrian Hamilton wrote a column in the UK's Independent newspaper, in which he identified the US as a rogue state who should be restrained, perhaps by a European military invasion, followed by a decade or so of occupation. Fortunately, the article is satirical not because it exaggerates the way European progressives view the US, but rather because the impotence of European military power makes the idea of an invasion of the US literally fantastic.

At least, for now.

Despite the tongue-in-cheek nature of this editorial, however, the fact remains that America is increasingly viewed this way by the European intellectual and political elite.

The Europeans actively desire a world where the United Nations keeps in check the activities of sovereign states. Because they have built such a system in Europe, they feel it's valid for the rest of the world. America, however, is the biggest obstacle to such a system. The Europeans cannot understand why America places a higher value on the ethos of national sovereignty and limited, consensual, and constitutional government, than it does on compliance with international "norms." They view all departures from such norms as aberrant. Because the UN member states all have an equal vote in prescribing international norms, they assume that, since the process is ostensibly legitimate, the results must be as well. The trouble with this idea, of course, is that it gives the views of non-democratic, authoritarian states the same weight as those of free, democratic societies. It sanctifies the process, with no regard to the actual results.

Thus, they are unable to make any moral distinction between the US refusals to join in a given international effort because we wish to preserve the liberty of our citizens, and similar refusals from Iraq because its dictator wishes to maintain his firm grip on power. Our repeated references to the US Constitution, and our unwillingness to bypass its provisions to comply with international norms, are incomprehensible to them. They assume, therefore, that our refusal is based on arrogance, rather than on a commitment to
constitutional rights.

None of this bodes well for the future of Euro-American friendship, or cooperation. If the Europeans continue to reject traditional liberalism in favor of the new progressivism, their criticism of the US will rise, while their tolerance of our differences will fall. Obviously, in such a political atmosphere, the opportunities for conflict will inevitably

That thought is frightening enough. Even more frightening, however, is the thought that such a conflict might be averted by our own acceptance of the new ideology of transnational progressivism.



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