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The Europeans do not share any more common values with Washington. Franck Biancheri, 2006

“Old Transatlantic Values” vs “New Transatlantic Cooperation” – Franck Biancheri – 20/01/2006

This title, written in 2006, is hot news, a few days after the US President denounced the COP21 agreement. “The Transatlantic relationship has know after 1945 is dead” wrote Franck Biancheri. It is a fact. The “Old Transatlantic Relationship” has lived, even though for ten years the neo-liberal and neo-conservative “Americanist” world has tried to live on its ashes. Ten years later, Trump’s America, seems to confirm that there are -no more “natural” reasons for the Europeans and the Americans to converge anymore- “A majority of the population on each side of the Atlantic is now following different courses, at different speeds and in many ways to reach different goals.” The list of events and break points drawn up by Franck Biancheri to reinforce this statement remains a dismal news, and the title of the article of extraordinary acuity.

Franck Biancheri (20/01/2006) – In a recent article in Der Spiegel1, Alexander Gauland, former CDU politician and German writer, said the sooner we disconnect German foreign policy from the straightjacket of “common values,” the more stable relations with the United States will become. Conservatives understand this line of thinking. Neo-liberals and neo-conservatives, on the other hand, remain blinded by “common values.” I believe that he can extend this statement beyond the Germans and talk about the Europeans at large.

Because if European leaders still do not exist, if European power is still in creation, something has definitely emerged in the past 5 years, they are the Europeans. Not surprisingly, they did so at first in reaction to something which made them aware that they were forming a true community of values, different from others which may have been existing before, or they had been force to adhere before.

This “birth” took place during the period directly before and after the invasion of Iraq by the USA. It took the initial form of a clear popular opposition to this invasion and included a major disruption in several European countries between public opinions and their national political leaders who did not anticipate this radical change of people’s mindset.

Three years later, despite regular attempts from the “old Transatlantic” players to stage a come-back of the post WWII Transatlantic spirit, it is now obvious for any observer crossing the European continent and talking to the people rather than to Transatlantic think-tank experts, that the Transatlantic relationship has know after 1945 is dead. Based upon the belief of common values forged in the common fights against Nazism and Communism, it has not survived the death of the last of these two ideologies. A majority of the population on each side of the Atlantic is now following different courses, at different speeds and in many ways to reach different goals. Besides, the development of the European Union, and its enlargement of 2004, have created a new European feeling, deeply felt by its people, of not having anymore to be told by any other power, partner or else, what they should do. The complete backfiring of Washington’s support to Turkey’s accession to the EU is a very good example : each time G.W. Bush expresses such a support, the support for Turkey’s accession goes down within the EU, as well, as the image of the USA. As I mentioned at the GlobalEurope 2020 EU/USA seminar last April in DC, the US side should learn to refrain itself from telling the Europeans where are the EU’s limits because this attitude is not anymore accepted by the vast majority of Europeans. Whether one likes it or not, it is a fact.

And I noticed too, like Alexander Gauland, that “Conservatives understand this line of thinking. Neo-liberals and neo-conservatives, on the other hand, remain blinded by “common values.””; and seem to be unable to understand that times have definitely changed.

In order to help those US neo-liberals and neo-conservatives (and what’s left of the Old Transatlantic Relationship among European elites) understand the extent of the change, it may be useful to underline what is the background of the so-called “common values” debates seen with the eyes of a European of today.

Far from sanitized surveys or politically correct papers, let’s face the tough reality of the US image in Europe, by listing the US events/trends which are shaping it up :

  • Katrina and the image of a third-world country type, unable to cope with an anticipated major natural disaster
  • poverty and racism
  • a continuing Iraq crisis strengthening the terrorists
  • a looming Iran crisis
  • the inability to deal with Korea (double standard)
  • Guantanamo
  • CIA rendition policy
  • secret jails
  • Patriot Act and limitation of privacy, freedom, legal protection, …
  • a President defending the torture of prisoners
  • growing abuse of presidential powers extending far into the usual legislative and judiciary powers
  • large scale corruption of the US political class
  • Enron, Worldcom, ….
  • a political culture of lies (lies to the UN, lies to its own people, its voters, its shareholders, …)
  • implementation of anti-social, anti-environment policies within and outside the US
  • systematic attempts to block or derail international agreements or policies
  • development of religious bigotry as a decision-making concept
  • unconditional support to Israel and neglect of Palestinians
  • support to dictatorship
  • technological failures (Katrina, Space Shuttle, …)
  • decay of the educational system
  • disinterest inside and outside the US for the poor, the weak, …

… .

Tough indeed. But true. Sneak into any private discussion in between Europeans, talking about the US today, and it will be what you will find fuelling the debate, and most of the time a very consensual exchange.

So, how does one want to still keep alive in that conditions the very idea of “sharing common values”? To be honest, who will be willing to share the underlying values expressed by such a series of acts, policies and trends?

As far as I know about 50% of US citizens are also feeling “very European” in that way. But the fact is that they seem to unable to change the policies currently developed by Washington.

Eight years ago, when I started Tiesweb with many others, I wrote that in the coming years, there will no “natural” reasons for the Europeans and the Americans to converge anymore in the future; unless leaders on both sides of the Atlantic would be wise enough to stimulate on large scale the connections between there two societies. Not only it did not happen, but the USA got into a completely new course accelerating the estrangement of the two former partners. With this new course sanctioned by US voters in 2004, the shift with Europeans in terms of values became almost irreversible.

To elaborate upon what Alexander Gauland wrote, I will just add that, not only US neo-liberals and neo-conservatives, must adapt to the idea that Americans and Europeans do not share anymore common values, but also a certain number of business, academic and political circles within Europe too, used to the “Old Transatlantic Alliance”, they have to move fast towards the “New Transatlantic Cooperation”. Otherwise they’ll miss History’s train!

Franck Biancheri – 20/01/2006

The Europeans do not share any more common values with Washington (Franck Biancheri Documentation)

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