Paris, September 21, 2010 – The relationship between Western Europe and the colonies that became the United States was complicated from the beginning, when the North American settlements were mere appendages of the European powers, and drawn into their conflicts -- King William’s and Queen Anne’s wars, the French and Indian war involving the Iroquois, and then came the American colonial revolt against England. Three decades later the reprise of the war with England afforded the new United States an opportunity to rebuild its burned national capitol and the city of Washington.
Today’s relationship to Europe is again complicated, more complicated than many think because there is a slow but clear erosion, and growing distrust on both sides, produced by the American unwillingness to give up its assumption that the states of the European Union should remain the respectful satellites they have been during most of the period since the second world war. The situation of the colonial period is reversed, with America’s European allies in reaction against America’s imperial wars.
Washington sees in this a disintegration of the European community that was fostered by the United States. The Europeans are behaving in “unEuropean ways,” an American academic observer, Charles Kupchan, wrote recently in The Washington Post. He spoke of the European project’s “death agony,” caused by “the renationalization” of its political landscape, each country reclaiming a sovereignty it formerly was willing to yield to the European community as a whole.