After World War II, it was clear that supranational powers had to be established to prevent such calamities from reoccurring. Countries acting unilaterally, lead to conflict and, as seen in history, war. Several European Nations, The United States and other countries, decided to form a military alliance called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to protect each other from external attacks and promote interdependence. Winston Churchill’s military advisor Lord Ismay proclaimed that the purpose of NATO was to “keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.
” Though times have changed a great deal since 1945, I will argue that this statement still holds true militarily and economically to many Europeans today. America has been a bitter-sweet ally to the Europeans for a long time but many would disagree with Ismay’s statement about Europe wanting to keep America “in” because of the vast differences in cultures. Kagan says, “Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus” (Kagan), and there have many other articles about why Europe dislikes America. I, however, believe Europeans do better with us, than without us.
Kagan even later mentions that, “the United States and Europe share a set of common Western beliefs. Their aspirations for humanity are much the same…” (Kagan). This shows that despite the differences they are unified in what matters most. I’m not going to argue that every European loves the US but since 1945, America has done more to rebuild Europe than any other country. Europeans are also still in the need of protection and our military presence since the EU doesn’t have much in the defense sector.
The United States is also arguably the leader of NATO which plays a major role in holding Europe together. Most of NATO’s troops are American and therefore the organization might disappear without the US. Markovits describes the European point of view best by saying, “We are enslaved by our interest in America and Americana. We try not to be, pretend not to be, but we can’t disengage” (Markovits 134). This goes along with Europe’s economic interests as well. Even thought the Euro is currently stronger than the Dollar, Europe would not do so well without US trade.
Aside from all the goods and jobs we export to Europe, we are also one of Europe’s biggest buyers of their exports. Russia is still being kept “out” of Europe because they have historically been a threat and many Europeans refuse to forget the past. Many would argue that Russia is friendly now trading oil, technology and Matryoshka dolls with Europe but I am still not convinced. If countries, like the one in Edgar’s Pentecost, would choose to liberate themselves from Russia, one could argue that even the USSR citizens wanted Russia out.
There are obvious reasons why Russia is still not a member of NATO. In 1999 NATO got involved in the Kosovo War which “united the Russians in deep and abiding anger against the West” (Thakur). He mentions later that, “Projecting western force into distant trouble spots by deploying NATO out of its European theatre of birth carries a manifold risk…and provoke retaliation by Russia” (Thakur). It seems Russia gets anxious the farther east NATO moves and responds accordingly. Recently Russia attacked Georgia, a country sought after by the US to join NATO but this doesn’t seem to intimidate Vladimir Putin.
In fact, even more recently Russia drove a battleship through the Panama Canal on route to Venezuela. The Cold War is still very fresh in European history and with the current displays of anger and aggression, it is no surprise that Europe still wants to keep Russia “out” of their currently safe community. It is understandable that many Europeans would fear the Germans for everything they did in history, and therefore the need to keep them “down” but it could be easily argued that Germans are the center for European politics and economics.
If Germany is so involved in the EU, NATO and have the largest GDP, are they really still being restricted like NATO originally intended? Well Germany never was supposed to be a POW after the war, contrarily the US helped reconstruct Germany but US presence there prevents anything from developing to a threat. Americans have Army and Air Force bases across the country which have intuitively prevented uprising of a fourth Reich. Dahrendorf argues that despite the US presence, nobody in Germany was ready to step up to elite rolls and govern the country.
All the leaders were gone and the middle class was now the upper elites but through the confusion and pressures of the transition, were not willing to take the reigns of governing this broken nation. He observes “Nobody governs Germany, Germany is governed” (Dahrendorf 264). One might say the aftermath of the war kept Germany “down” as NATO wanted. Another example more recently: the US continues to refuse Germany’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. This keeps the former power hungry regime in check and will probably stay that way until older generations pass away.
In conclusion, I submit that despite the changes in Europe since 1945, many still believe that Europe must keep America “in”, Russia “out” and Germany “down”. It is better for Europe to continue its long fruitful friendship with America, who has many of the same Western views and can continue to offer Europe security. It still makes sense to distance Europe from Russia because of the history and current events that make them an active threat. Lastly, it’s understandable that many still think Germany must be monitored due to the lack of trust on the older generations.
In a few years I might not make the same argument but for now, based on class discussions and my research, I believe that many Europeans still have the same views as they did after the War.
Almond, Gabriel. “Capitalism and Democracy,” PS: Political Science and Politics, September 1991. Berger, Suzanne. “The Coming Protectionism (or Why France, a Country with a Trade Surplus, Sees Foreign Trade as a Source of Rising Unemployment”, Business in the Contemporary World, 1, 1995. Dahrendorf, Ralf. Society and Democracy in Germany, New York: Norton, 1967. Kagan, Robert.
Power and Weakness, Policy Review 113. 2002. Markovits, Andrei. Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America, Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2007. Parsons, Craig. “Showing Ideas as Causes: The Origins of the European Union,” International Organization, 56(1), 2002. Thakur, Ramesh. “Taming or Rousing the Russian Bear? ” The Centre for International Governance Innovation. Available Online: http://www. igloo. org/community. igloo? r0=community&r0_script=/scripts/announ cement/view. script&r0_pathinfo=%2F%7B7caf3d23-023d-494b-865b- 84d143de9968%7D%2FAnnouncements%2Fciginews%2Ftamingorro&r0_output =xml.