Prevailing views of the United States on European integration that held sway from 1945 until 1990, significantly changed after the Cold War. They are about to shift again - and for good reason in the Trump White House.
The failure of the European integration project should by now be self-apparent to everyone. This is simply not something Churchill or Roosevelt would countenance. The European Union has become undemocratic and bloated by both bureaucracy and rampant anti-Americanism.
Since America has vital trade, defence, cultural and foreign policy interests in Europe, it remains in the US interest to remain engaged with Europe. The question is how?
The Trump administration is steadily making it clear that the US is no longer interested in the old forms of European integration. In fact, it may be able to encourage a reversal of the EU’s accelerating drive to a socialist, protectionist, United States of Europe.
This movement should be seen for what it is. It is very harmful to US business, to US investment, to US security, and is categorised by over-regulation, low growth, high unemployment, and structural rigidity as its outcome. The US should therefore definitively encourage more bilateral trade with Europe but make firm its opposition to a federal Europe by saying a definite No to a single Euro government.
It may be time to re-evaluate key US assumptions about Europe. This means America should reappraise its entire relationship with Europe and its future union or disunion.
The long held State Department view, since Dulles, has been that the best way to achieve peace in Europe is by uniting it. The Franco-German relationship was at the centre of such thinking. But the question today is what kind of Europe, and what kind of union, do we want?
What is in the US national interest looking ahead? Does what used to be called a European Economic Community necessarily equate with the evolution of a single European government?
Since the Maastricht treaty of 1992 and all the other treaties since, does this policy make sense? Or are there fundamental flaws in such a pro-integrationist logic, as detailed by the likes of the late Lord Dahrendorf and so many others like him? Is the European Union in need of a total redefinition?
We in the US realistically also need to ask: What are the dangers of a failing EU? These questions too should be considered as the consequences and sequencing have wide ramification. No one wants Europe to fail or instantly disintegrate.
We do know that the US and the UK are different from Europe: we want democracy and accountability, while the EU is intrinsically undemocratic and unaccountable. So should the US continue to promote such a damaged European model, which is alien to our own traditions? Is it not working against US interests to do so? Most certainly it does not put America, first, as Trump has now designated.
We should be keenly aware that America has strong and long historic ties to Europe; that our genealogy and kinship run deep. Despite our large contribution to post-war European development and democracy, not to mention costly security, anti-Americanism abounds in Europe today. Why?
Why are the Europeans and its institutions so ungrateful? The answer is European resentment of American power. Believe me, anti-Americanism is not an abstract idea in Europe, nor is it confined to leftists 'usual suspects'. It influences all of culture and policy-making in the EU.
The EU also uses the cloak of antitrust activity as a way to implement its anti-US industrial policy. It’s not just Microsoft. The list of companies affected is long and growing longer. The European Commission seeks to regulate any case involving large foreign companies which threaten or undermine EU business interests.
This is not just a cloak and dagger form of protectionism or a light non-trade set of barriers; it is more and more transparent. This mind-set, and particularly the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy, also distorts the world economy and any notion of fair trade. The EU offers favourable subsidies to European farmers over aid or increased trade with the US and developing countries.
Did you know, for instance, that the average EU subsidy to cows is €862 a year per cow?
US interests are further undermined by the EU’s many inherent internal contradictions - social, economic, and politically which undermine US beliefs and interests.
Chief among them are the Euro, a flawed common currency. The Euro offers little insulation from economic shocks and relies on fiscal transfers at the EU level to iron out economic imbalances. These are many. This equates to papering over cracks in the EU’s component economies.
It has also, as demonstrated by former World Bank, chief economist, Joseph Stieglitz, (see: The Euro and Its Threat to Europe) tilted the tables toward the benefit of Germany. Germany’s current account surplus is a huge eight per cent of GDP, which imposes a deflationary bias on the entire Eurozone.
The basic fallacy of the neo-functionalist philosophy underlying the EU is the assumption that political integration can be achieved through economic integration. This is a mistaken assumption further aggravated by the forced pace of such integration.
The cure to Europe’s calamity is genuine democracy - government by the people not by unelected bureaucrats parading as experts. Members of the European Commission are not elected and are unaccountable to any parliament. Such a globalist elite and its attendant super structure is detached from the people and therefore entirely anti-European.
Nato has of course served as the centrepiece and backbone of a US-European alliance on defence, security and foreign policy. But since the St. Malo agreement in 1998, Europe has been turning its back on the US and on Nato. It has pursued a separate defence to rival Nato and the US.
In fact, EU defence is no longer seen in the context of Nato. The Europeans want their own fighting force - preferably a cheap one. Burden sharing has always been an issue for Europeans, as all but five countries refuse to pay the two per cent of GDP that has been agreed. They are clearly free riding on US largesse.
Furthermore, the EU increasingly openly works against US interests abroad -- in the Middle East, Israel, Iran, on energy, Cuba, at the UN and the list goes on and on. And America with a blind eye just looks the other way. No longer. President Trump is on watch - and looking.
The US needs in these first days of the Trump administration then to re-examine its historical policy toward European integration from the lens of America, first. The present policy cannot continue as the assumptions are flawed and no longer bear fruit.
Of course the Transatlantic Alliance must continue. Good European-American relations are absolutely essential. But European integration is not at all in America’s interest.
European polities say they share the values of democracy and freedom. They should be tested. Put the EU to a referendum vote in every member country. It is time for greater scepticism and realism about the European Union and its not so hidden agenda and 'ever closer union'.
Brexit gives the US an opportunity for pause and an appreciation that the EU is actually weak and getting weaker. It could under certain scenarios even come apart. The US therefore needs to bolster its existing and strong relations with each of Europe’s member states - not all of which even belong fully to the EU. The US is not anti-European.
Take note: the architecture of the world is changing, shifting to more reliance on sovereign nation states and away from integrated blocs or supranational entities.
In Trump’s world the future is not what it was. Our dealings with Europe should also change, accordingly. In Between Kin and Cosmopolis, the Oxford political theologian, Nigel Biggar provides an ethic of the nation. This is where Europe should look for answers - not to a project of further integration. The US interaction with Europe is changed.