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“Whenever I use the word Europeans, I don’t mean the Brits”

This is rather startling. Martin Walker is a lefty, but he’s no mug. I’ve read his book about the Cold War, and although lefty, it’s not bad. This is Walker reporting from Washington for UPI, November 13th:

“You want to know what I really think of the Europeans?” asked the senior State Department official. “I think they have been wrong on just about every major international issue for the past 20 years.”

They were wrong, the diplomat continues, about Bosnia, and about Russia accepting NATO enlargement and Missile Defense. They were wrong about the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 and the Kyoto Protocol. They were wrong about the European Union’s new common security and defense policy. They were wrong about Reagan and the Evil Empire, and they helped vote the US off the UN Human Rights Commission. They whine about the US Farm Bill when they are the world’s prime protectionists.

The official, a career diplomat who speaks fluent French and likes to vacation in Italy, sat back and took an appreciative sip from his glass of good red wine from Bordeaux.

“One more thing,” he added. “Whenever I use the word Europeans, I don’t mean the Brits.”

It was perhaps the most interesting and informative off-the-record lunch this reporter had attended in some three decades in the news business. The speaker was not a political appointee with a cursory knowledge of international affairs, but a professional and highly experienced Foreign Service officer with a wide range of friends and contacts across Europe.

He is a cultivated and courteous man, but he was angry, in that dangerous way quiet men can be. And the unveiled contempt in his voice and the curl of his lip when he drawled out the word “Europeans” said as much for the depth of his feelings as his bitter rhetoric.

Europeans do not yet get this, the great sea change that has taken place in the American foreign policy establishment. …

Thinking about it, what I find startling is not what it says, but the fact that it says it, in a boring old wire service. I have only one thing to add. Read the whole thing before it disappears from easy view.

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3 comments to “Whenever I use the word Europeans, I don’t mean the Brits”

  • Trent Telenko

    There are a couple of things going on here.

    The first is that the State Department figure quoted here neglected to mention the State Department was with the Europeans on each of these issues until it was over ruled by either or both the American executive and Congress.

    That this State Department foreign service officer is going this route implies to me that Europe is being set up as a useful internal scapegoat for a paradigm shift in State Department culture.

    Second, never underestimate the power of turf.

    Defense and most especially the Military’s Theater Commanders and Special Forces are steadily usurping the State Departments power, position and perks. State is risking irrelevancy if it continues its internal opposition to the war on terrorism.

    The State Department definately wants to be on the winning side in this war.

  • But there is also a seachange in that the post Cold war trends have been accelerated by 9/11.

    It could also explain why the EU is accelerating towards a form of state sovereignty as the federalists understand that their dream requires a nationalist structure to underpin their transnationalist hopes.

  • Dale Amon

    Even the State Department has to somewhat reflect the attitudes of the country as a whole. To Americans Europe has long been about as relevant as a theme park to global affairs. It’s a nice place to visit but incapable of defending even itself.
    It’s leaders look to us (even or especially up close for those of us who live here) like children who demand to be treated as adults while at the same time refusing to take on adult responsibilities.