Europe and the Establishment

In Britain, they have admitted the existence of "the establishment" ever since journalist Henry Fairlie coined the term in the mid-fifties.

In the week that the Spanish government had been making clear that it intends to join France and Germany in their stance of hostile suspicion towards the U.S., this juxtaposition blithely underestimates the developing dynamic of European politics namely, the rise of anti-Americanism as the dominant ideology of a united Europe.

This dynamic arises from three powerful undercurrents in European politics:

1. As Henry Kissinger knows all too well from his study of European history, rising powers tend to develop a view of their own interests that makes them the rivals of other powers even when there is relatively little of substance that separates them. If that is not so, then the First World War never happened. A united Europe would be such a power.

2. The political culture of a united Europe would be very different from that of the U.S. (and very different from the culture of some European countries.) It would be more interventionist economically, less democratic and more elitist politically, more deferential to international rules and institutions in diplomacy, and initially more hostile to the use of military force by nation-states. These different outlooks would produce growing conflict with the U.S. on matters as various as trade, the Middle East and the war on terror.

3. Conscious hostility to America as a false social ideal has been a constant theme -- sometimes dominant, sometimes secondary -- in European politics for almost two hundred years. The Cold War subdued this form of anti-Americanism. But it is now almost the sole remaining ideology of the European Left. It has some adherents on the European Old Right that is emerging again after decades in the shadows. And it would be bound to increase in a united Europe that saw the U.S. as rival more than ally.

Taken together, these three trends ensure that the more united Europe becomes, the more anti-American it will be. Asking European leaders not to employ this anti-Americanism as the building block of a new European identity is a wholly inadequate response to this dynamic. European leaders will be perfectly happy to make statements to this effect, as they have in the past -- some sincerely, some not -- but such statements will neither determine nor predict future policy. Even Tony Blair¹s assurances that Britain would halt the common European defense policy before it undercut NATO melted away into nothingness when France and Germany turned up the heat. Their main effect was to sedate the U.S and in particular President Bush.

Similarly, some of the CFR's practical proposals might temporarily soften the edges of this developing anti-Americanism. For instance, asking Europe to accept the principle of preventive war in return for Washington's agreement to keep it as a solution of last resort is a reasonable compromise that might appease responsible European public opinion. But such measures can do little more than retard the anti-American dynamic of unity.

In these circumstances, the report's plea that the U.S. should continue supporting ever-closer European integration amounts to an argument for entrenching that anti-Americanism and making it even more powerful. If a united anti-American Europe were inevitable, there might be a case for appeasing it in advance by these methods. But it is very far from being inevitable; indeed, the present degree of integration and thus of anti-Americanism would not have been reached if the U.S. had not anticipated the CFR's advice more or less consistently since the early fifties.

There are in fact several possible European futures inherent in the present -- some federal, some not, some anti-American, some not. And these different possibilities rest on the central fact that not all Europeans are anti-American. There are strong sectors of pro-American opinion in every European country. But consistent pro-Americanism is in a minority throughout Europe even when it is the majority opinion in particular countries such as Poland and Britain. And in addition the institutional rules and incentives of the EU push even pro-American countries to adopt integrationist policies that have anti-American implications. As a result of both tendencies, closer European integration ensures that an anti-American "common European policy" -- most significantly in defense and foreign policy -- is likely to override the pro-American attitudes of European Union member-states.

Some observers thought that this could be avoided. They calculated that "New Europe's" arrival inside the European Union, together with the pro-Washington stances adopted by Spain and Italy over the Iraq war, would give the pro-Americans an equality of power and influence with the anti-Americans inside EU structures. Even if that calculation had been correct, the balance of that power would have been an exceedingly fine one.

It would almost certainly have been tipped on most issues in an anti-American direction by the institutional biases of the EU towards de facto anti-Americanism. But even the slender chance of occasional pro-American victories has now been removed by the results of the Spanish election. Spain will now join France and Germany in institutional anti-Americanism. There no disguising the reality that Europe is building an anti-American structure. Yet the CFR argues that the U.S. should continue its long post-war policy of assisting and encouraging that construction.

Of course, a committee that contains distinguished European politicians was never going to reach any other conclusion. "The European Idea" has replaced Christianity as the principal religion of France, Germany and most of Western Europe. It is a slight mystery, however, that a panel of distinguished Americans should unanimously go along with them.