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Lateral Change: The United States and the European Union


The European Union has grown in power significantly over the past decade. It is in the United States' best interest to review its stances on politics and economics with the European continent.

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									Lateral Changes By: David Jims PSC 342 Dr. Peter Loedel Summer 2009 Final Exam

The end has come for many people in the United States. With the establishment of power throughout the European continent and a united goal for prosperity and peace, the European Union has dazzled the world while bringing mixed feelings from their counterparts across the Atlantic. A new wave of politics has reached the shores of the United States, and many don‟t know what to make of it. As seen in The United States of Europe, written by T.R. Reid, lessons have been learned the hard way through loss of fortune and loss of pride. But the pride and tenacity that we have as Americans will assuredly see us through these changes with newly created pro-European sentiments which will improve America‟s standing throughout the continent. This change must come from looking at how Europe has drastically changed since the end of World War II, the evolution of the relationship between Europe and the United States, and what lies ahead for our relationship as a new U.S. president emerges as a beacon of hope throughout the U.S. and Europe. Our countries‟ relationship wasn‟t always where it was today; this is due to the amazing progression of European government and society. As Europe struggled through its early days in the 20th century (due to its inability to grasp a cohesive understanding of the sovereign nation state) with wars, economic struggles, and failing governments, they emerged from the masses of rubble scathed and hurt, but with a new idea of European unity that would help to produce the Europe that we know today. Following World War II, the United States realized the importance of rebuilding Europe through economic development and rebuilding. The Marshall Plan and the creation of NATO moved Europe through the Cold War with relative economic growth, military security, and a new political savvy. Realizing that there was little chance that Europe could survive another war after the crushing blow dealt by World War II, France and Germany created one of the most important

agreements in European, and global, history. The creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, innovated by Jean Monnet, fostered a growing relationship between European countries. Members increased in number year after year with more and more countries wanting to join the list to benefit from the secure growth that this „members only‟ group could provide. However, the only way these changes could take place was to absorb everything that the U.S. could give. Growth wouldn‟t have been possible without the creation of NATO and the military power of the United States that kept the Soviet Union‟s expansion at bay; the Marshall Plan provided the funds needed to rebuild cities and re-cultivate crops while allowing each country‟s government to learn to thrive on its own. This internal and external stability also proved to keep extremist forces from regaining support throughout West Europe. The inventiveness of these programs cannot be understated because we can see first-hand that they were extremely effective. Although these important initiatives helped bring Europe to the forefront of the global stadium, many Europeans disregard the healing touch of American money and policy decisions during the Cold War era. It is obvious that the image of the United States in Europe has been tarnished over the past eight years; a long time in the context of the political arena. The Bush administration systematically made decisions that were in the best interests of America without seeking advice or multilateral solutions to international problems that would ultimately affect the global commons. George W. Bush had drastically underestimated the sovereign power that was growing in Europe and its increasing importance to the future of the U.S. Given the rap sheet of Bush‟s „EU blunders‟, it‟s no surprise that Generation E is still recovering. Major decisions which were made unilaterally by the Bush administration, such as the United States‟ attitude toward UN Resolution 1441, promoted the divide between us. Bush‟s errors were not solely

based on militaristic ventures, but economic, political, and social ideological dissimilarities as well. The controversy over General Electric CEO Jack Welch‟s attempted acquisition and ensuing battle with the EU‟s antitrust division headed by Mario Monti showed that “Welch‟s appeal for U.S. political pressure, and the president‟s response, was exactly the wrong way to deal with the European Union.” (Reid, 103) Europe‟s up-and-coming generation had a lot to think about. However, Generation E now looks to the future of the relationship between the U.S. and the EU with hopeful thoughts as Barack Obama takes control and utilizes one of the most powerful positions in the world. But Obama has some tough shoes to fill; “[his] four immediate predecessors all had deep disagreements with major European allies early in their presidency.” (Sestanovich) His new diplomatic-style approach will undoubtedly make more friends than enemies, especially due to his stark contrast to President G.W. Bush and his significance in history (which reflects the American people‟s open-mindedness and their need for change as well). Europe has already begun praising Obama for his reactions and solutions to the problems inherited from the previous administration. One of his first initiatives was to close down Guantanamo Bay, a huge leap in the right direction in the eyes of the EU which has an extensive background concerning the importance of human rights. But that‟s not the only positive thing to come from President Obama‟s camp. He is already showing his interest in listening (as opposed to Bush‟s talking, telling, or commanding) to the needs and concerns of European countries and the EU as a whole. The G-20 Summit was his first proving ground in which he adroitly maneuvered his words and fell into the good graces of world leaders. What became so attractive to EU leaders were Obama‟s clear-cut attitudes towards the European Union‟s existing global power; he recognized the contributions that the EU has made and might even be willing to accept

the fact that Europe now outranks the U.S. in some pretty key areas. This reason alone will begin bringing the United States and President Obama into the limelight of European attitudes once again as increased communication and trade amongst the two groups will ensue. And in order to ensure that this new adhesive sticks, the United States must concede the fact that Europe is an equal (and in some cases more powerful). The United States must be able to admit that the euro‟s startlingly effective inception in 2002 made it one of the most important and valued currencies throughout the world. “From day one, the euro had more daily users than the U.S. dollar.” (Reid, 64) As the most effective counterweight to U.S. currency, the euro has become one of the biggest suppliers of EU power. This showed in the recent NATO summit when, instead of the United States running the show, Germany‟s Angela Merkel took control and denied NATO admittance to Georgia and Ukraine. (Rubin) Even on large, normally U.S.-run foreign policy issues, power is becoming reallocated. Therefore, it‟s imperative that “the new administration…capitalize on this moment by declaring that the era of U.S. unilateralism is over and that partnership with Europe is a central tenet of U.S. foreign policy.” (Rubin) The United States must find ways to capitalize on the economic and political clout of the euro, and in fact many companies have. Some American companies (such as Snapple, DKNY, the Sunglass Hut, and Hellmann‟s Mayonnaise) have already pounced on the opportunity for increased economic integration with Europe once those companies realized that their goods “can be shipped anywhere in the EU without a penny of tariff or import duty, and earn profits in the world‟s strongest currency.” (Reid, 243) The EU‟s boom in the economic sector has also allowed it to not only provide more for its citizens, but also for people around the globe. The EU has continued to increase its standing globally in comparison to the

United States: “The EU and its member states send ten times as many soldiers as the United States to peacekeeping missions in Africa, Central Asia, even Central America.” (Reid, 244) There are, nonetheless, internal struggles that continue within the EU. This is why answering the question “what is Europe?” is still a very difficult task. It is clear that Europe, over the past 60 years, has become a much more unified entity, but it is also apparent that disagreements among EU member states could hinder the evolution of unification. However, there is optimism to be had because one cannot expect change like this to take a few short years to complete and perfect. The U.S. can attempt to foster this change by searching for multilateral solutions with the EU that would benefit both parties. This also means that the as the EU continues to change, the United States must continue to change as well. In other words, “[w]e need to recognize and accept the plain fact that the planet has a second superpower now, and that its global influence will continue to increase as the world moves toward a bipolar balance of economic, political, and diplomatic authority.” (Reid, 244) The ultimate recognition of this basic truth will be the key to America‟s return to the place it once held in the global hierarchy of power.

Works Cited Reid, T. R. United States of Europe the new superpower and the end of American supremacy. New York: Penguin P, 2004. Rubin, James P. "Building a New Atlantic Alliance." Foreign Affairs (2008). July-Aug. 2008. 23 June 2009 <>. Sestanovich, Stephen. "Ask Not What Europe Can Do for You." Foreign Policy (2009). Mar. 2009. 23 June 2009 <>.

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