Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Ignore Obama. Change the EU.

January 15, 2013 12:05 am 1 comment

President Barack Obama delivers his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

Hubris is definitely one of Barack Obama’s strong suits. Having broadly retreated in the global war on terror, failed to stem nuclear proliferation and watched the Middle East descend toward chaos, his Administration has nonetheless found time to lecture the United Kingdom on the finer points of its relationship with the European Union. Even Obama admirers have noticed that, as the New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote recently, “. . . sometimes he governs like a visitor from a morally superior civilization”. Now you know first-hand how many Americans feel.

And while Britain has been a particular target for Mr Obama’s disdain, it is hardly alone. Just ask Israel. Or Poland and the Czech Republic, after they supported US missile defense plans. Or the people of Iraq, trying to build a representative government to stand against Tehran’s encroaching influence. Or Afghans who fear that America’s withdrawal inevitably means the Taliban and al-Qaeda will return to power. The list is depressingly long. Under Mr Obama, being a US ally is obviously not what it once was.

In fact, re-evaluating Britain’s approach toward the listing EU ship is entirely sensible. But the White House decision to opine publicly before David Cameron’s impending speech is both diplomatically ham-handed and divorced from the EU’s worsening governance crisis. America’s State Department has been a stuck record on European integration since the Marshall Plan, heedless of changing, post-Cold War circumstances, or the EU’s many failings.

But this is more serious than simply asserting the default EU position. Challenges to the West continue to grow, and our adversaries — proliferators and terrorists among others — have not waited graciously while we revive our flagging economies. Instead, they have measured our distraction and weakness and recalibrated their policies to exploit our inattention to security requirements.

On both sides of the Atlantic, politicians supporting “ever closer union” in Europe proclaim endlessly that America needs a “strong European partner”. America does indeed need a strong Europe, but that is most assuredly not the same thing as a strong EU. While it has been a sustaining, post-Cold War myth that the EU could be an independent pole in a multi-polar world, that myth has been shattered time and again. The EU has utterly forgotten de Gaulle’s vision of a “Europe des patries”, creating instead the opposite: a weakening Europe of weakening nations.

Europe today is less than the sum of its parts. The very nature of consensus-based decision-making drives it toward hesitancy, timidity and ultimately ineffectiveness. And the EU’s cumbersome decision-making mechanism — slow, awkward and rigid — subtracts from the influence its individual member states could project, acting on their own or in concert with others.

Mr Obama’s placid acceptance of, or even enthusiasm for, declining US global influence plainly accelerates the West’s enervation. He was deadly serious when he vowed in 2008 to “fundamentally transform” America. Only a president who sees national security as distracting from his primary agenda of moving the United States toward European-style social democracy could admire the EU’s trajectory. Mr Obama has repeatedly shown his lack of interest in traditional alliances and partnerships as fundamental building blocks for US security and, now safely re-elected, his discomfort with national sovereignty is free to flower.

Debates about America’s domestic direction during the next four years will be highly contentious. Similarly, in international affairs, Mr Obama’s impact is already profound negative, with more of the same ahead. Whether or not budget sequestration takes effect on March 1, his first term has already brought massive defense cuts of nearly a trillion dollars, while domestic Federal budgets have ballooned. And even Leon Panetta, the Defense Secretary, laments that another $500 billion of reductions through sequestration will be devastating.

Unfortunately other NATO countries already know what Mr. Panetta means. With few exceptions (until now, at least, Britain and France), European military budgets for decades have foreshadowed Mr Obama’s path. Reducing defense outlays in favor of social welfare spending was easy for Europe, because ultimately the US nuclear umbrella and conventional forces provided shelter for its collective retreat from responsibility. As America undergoes its own retreat, however, no one will provide us with shelter and most certainly won’t shelter the EU either.

It is simply wrong for Washington to say that Britain (or any other EU member) has no choice but to accept the EU as is, or face isolation. In fact the logic is compelling that the EU has grown increasingly sclerotic precisely because its members have accepted this false dichotomy. The internal political dynamic would change fundamentally if EU proponents truly believed that Britain and others were in fact negotiating a substantially different kind of relationship, not leaving the EU but restructuring it. That would be good for Britain and actually also stimulating for the rest of the EU. And the State Department should remember that Thomas Jefferson, its first Secretary, once wrote: “It cannot be to our interest that all Europe should be reduced to a single monarchy.”

In any event, restructuring is already under way because of the euro crisis. If eurozone members really want to cede fiscal as well as monetary policy to Brussels, and thus even more of their core national sovereignty, so be it. Not everyone else in the EU must follow suit. The idea of European co-operation proceeding at several different speeds is hardly the exclusive preserve of misty-eyed traditionalists.

Until America once again has a president prepared to deal effectively with global threats to US interests, there is obviously little that those of us in opposition can do to support a United Kingdom determined to preserve some measure of democratic sovereignty. But rest assured, you are far better off making up your own minds than having Barack Obama make them up for you.

John Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former US Ambassador to the United Nations.  This article was originally published by the Times of London.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Relationships Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Millionaire entrepreneur Yossi Vardi credited his success in start-ups to his Jewish mother continuously pushing him to do better, Daily Mail reported on Thursday. “Jewish mothers are never satisfied and nothing is ever good enough,” he said, adding that his mother, who died 15 years ago, used to compare him with his cousins and say he was “an idiot.” “For most of my life I have been trying to show her I’m not,” he continued. “I keep on trying even now.” Vardi, […]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Famed actor Seth Rogen on Tuesday unveiled with typical comic fanfare the trailer for his new Christmas film. The movie “was made by Jews… and opens on Thanksgiving,” Rogen pointed out on Twitter. The Night Before tells the tale of three “ride or die homies” celebrating one last debauchery-filled Christmas Eve reunion before they become too busy to keep up their annual tradition. In an effort to make the night as memorable as possible, they set out to find the “Nutcracka Ball – the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    A June 2015 art exhibit, “The Transformative Power of Art,” at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, harnessed the universal language of art to convey an important message: “Our fragile Mother Earth faces the devastating consequences of climate change, a defining challenge of our time.” The exhibit also included sixteen portraits of people from all over the world who have “contributed to the common good of humanity in one way or another and have transformed the way we […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    A 32-year-old Circassian Israeli Muslim Mixed Martial Arts fighter from Abu Ghosh says he takes pride in fighting under the Israeli flag, Israel’s Walla reported on Sunday. Like most Circassian Israelis, Jackie “the Punishment” Gosh was born Sunni Muslim. He became observant about eight years ago, and is now scrupulous in following his religion’s tenets, praying five times a day and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Gosh is also very proud of his Israeli nationality, and sees no contradiction between […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    A new documentary explores the lives and work of Jewish and Arab rappers in Israel and how the ongoing conflict in the region has impacted their lyrics, the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday. Hip Hop in the Holy Land is a six-part series co-directed by Mike Skinner, the British frontman of hip-hop group The Streets, and produced by Noisey, a music channel published by Vice news. The first episode, published last week, shows Skinner meeting with Tamer Nafar, the founder of one of […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada 49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    New 49ers running back and Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne apologized on Wednesday for a tweet in which he raised the age-old myth that Jews were historically responsible for Jesus Christ’s death. Reaching out to his Jewish fans, and the chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Hayne tweeted: “To the Jewish community @DvirAbramovich #WeAreAllOne.” Underneath, he keenly included a screenshot of a text message to elaborate on his apology: “I sincerely apologize for my tweets on July 1. I […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot reminisced about her childhood in Israel during an interview published in this month’s edition of Vanity Fair. “I don’t remember this, but my mom told me that when I was three they threw a party on the rooftop of the house. They put me to bed, and I heard people coming into the house and no one came to me. I went to the rooftop and took a hose and I started to spray water on everyone, just […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    An Israeli organization is helping wounded U.S. veterans move past their physical and psychological challenges by connecting them with injured Israeli soldiers who understand what they’ve been through. “What we discovered very early is that there’s no ‘professional, psychiatrist, social worker’ or anything like that [or] pills that can come even close to helping a soldier who fought in combat, who was wounded, who lost his friends. No one can help him like another person who’s been through exactly what he has,” Rabbi Chaim Levine, […]

    Read more →