Has the United States undermined its own best foreign policy arguments by ignoring Europe? Writing in the Sunday Times (of London), Walter Russell Mead argues that America has to re-engage with “The Continent”:
[T]he US has not made the health and direction of the European Union a serious focus of its foreign policy. It was partly good manners: one doesn’t interfere in one’s neighbour’s affairs. But it was also a failure to comprehend the immense amount of trouble that was brewing in Europe and the cost of European failure for America’s vital interests worldwide. We have taken Europe for granted as its problems grew worse, and if British diplomacy has been ineffective in Europe, the Americans have been MIA.This needs to change. The time has come for Americans to re-engage with Europe in a sustained and serious way. The gradual deterioration of the political and economic situation in Europe is a serious threat to the health of Nato and to the transatlantic economy, but even more is at stake.The European Union, for all its flaws, remains the greatest triumph of American foreign policy. A continent of squabbling empires and nation states found peace and prosperity after the Second World War working within the liberal capitalist system that Americans want to see triumph worldwide.
That, WRM argues, is exactly what we would like to see from the rest of the world. Should we let it fail, however, our best example and inducement to other regions would disappear.WRM also examines the failure of British coalition-building diplomacy in the European Union over the past generation, and how it has put our best ally on her back foot in Europe: “The staunchly Protestant Britain of William III was able to bring the Pope himself into its grand alliance against Louis XIV; today Britain has a cause just as good and as important, but it appears to lack the wisdom to lead the reform movement that Europe urgently needs. ” The two issues, he suggests, are related—and would mutually benefit from a Continental reengagement by both Anglophone powers.We highly recommend you read the whole thing.