Thursday 24 July 2008

American Exceptionalism is Alive and Well in the Obama Campaign

I was amazed and thrilled to learn in the Financial Times yesterday that, according to Susan Rice, Senator Barack Obama’s national security advisor that “in return for treating Europe as a ‘full partner,” Mr. Obama would expect European countries to fulfil a bigger share of “joint responsibilities” such as counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan.”

This is excellent news. After all, imagine the benefits Europe would have if America treated it as a “full partner”:

• Europe could invade some country along with the United States – maybe Iran – on the suspicion of having Weapons of Mass Destruction, in the absence of concrete evidence, abundant warnings of the futility of such action from its closest allies, or a UN resolution;

• Following a nice “shock and awe” campaign packaged for CNN and Fox News, Europe could then botch the occupation and reconstruction of that country, claiming that it isn’t in the nation-building business.

What else could we aspire to?

• Europe could adapt US healthcare policies, which leave at least 40 million people uncovered, and leave millions more dependent on charity;

• Europe could inflate its housing sector and use higher housing prices as an infinite ATM cash machine, until, of course, the bubble bursts;

• Europe could expand its per capita consumption of greenhouse gases following the American model, so that the country with 1/20th of the world’s population can produce 1/4th of greenhouse emissions, but then insist that there is no scientific consensus on the human causes of global warming;

• Europe’s policy-making can be given over wholesale to lobbyists and special interests.

Best of all, all Europe could become the US’s poodle, following the footsteps of a certain former British Prime Minister.

Mr. Obama, your campaign is going to have to do a lot better than that if you think that vague promises are going to restore the trans-Atlantic partnership. As I see things, the problem is not on this side of the ocean at all, but on yours.


Philip Ammerman
Athens, Greece