Magazine article Management Today

STATE OF THE: Europeans Are Seen by Americans as Ineffectual, Duplicitous, Craven, Lazy, Hypocritical, Patronising and Anti-Semitic Europe Is an Insult, Not an Ally

Magazine article Management Today

STATE OF THE: Europeans Are Seen by Americans as Ineffectual, Duplicitous, Craven, Lazy, Hypocritical, Patronising and Anti-Semitic Europe Is an Insult, Not an Ally

Article excerpt

After the ritual post-11 September sympathy, a few European commentators dared ask: Do they realise how much they are hated? Well, now the US is throwing back the question. Forget about Osama bin Laden. The target of America's disdain is now Europe.

The European intellectual and political elites have long had a monopoly over transatlantic contempt; but the US is now matching insult for insult. And Europeans need to ask themselves: do we realise how much we are hated?

To be sure, the EU remains, as a bloc, the largest economic partner of the US. Nato still exists, in form at least. European companies are the largest direct investors in the US, and vice versa. However, the US is probably more irritated by Europe than it has been since the struggle over medium-range nuclear missiles in the '80s.

Chris Patten, the EU's commissioner for external affairs, despairs at the 'visceral contempt' he picks up among journalists and politicians in Washington DC. Among the conservative opinion-makers who set the tone of America's public debate, Europe is an insult, not an ally. Europeans are variously ineffectual, duplicitous, craven, lazy, hypocritical, patronising and, of course, anti-Semitic.

Americans may once have given Europe the benefit of the doubt, but the Europhobes have put the worst possible gloss on every recent event. The electoral success of Le Pen is an opportunity to demonstrate the bankruptcy of Europe's political establishment, as well as confirming France's underlying anti-Semitism; Sweden's GDP figures offer an occasion to trumpet the superiority of American-style capitalism; and a gun massacre in Germany shows the impotence of the European nanny state.

You think I am being over-sensitive? Read Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post: 'What we are seeing is pent-up anti-Semitism, the release - with Israel as the trigger - of a millennium-old urge that powerfully infected and shaped European history.'

So, why is Europe in America's bad books? George Bush senior's administration was populated by Atlanticists; Bill Clinton, out of policy-wonk curiosity, was interested in the north European model. The present president, who had hardly travelled outside the US before he entered politics, has no such ties.

Second, Bush junior has learned, from his father's defeat in 1992, that Americans vote, and foreigners do not. So he has shown a consistent tendency to favour Pennsylvania steelworkers and Midwest farmers over free trade. …

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