The Politicially Destructive Power of Envy
Today, it's not just the French. We also have a poor relationship with Luxembourg, Germany, Greece, Turkey, and Belgium, and a tenuous relationship with Spain and Portugal, two other long-term members of NATO.
Part of the problem is that the NATO Alliance has expanded, and part of the problem is that the reason for the NATO Alliance has ended. The Alliance itself is an anachronism. It was originally constructed to provide a united defense against an attack by the old Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact nations. Today, most of the former Warsaw Pact nations have joined NATO, and Russia stands more or less alone, neither a friend nor an enemy.
Most of the diplomatic problems between the United States and the majority of NATO member states arise because there is no longer a common enemy to force us to work together. At the same time, the center of "Old Europe" wants to become a counter-balance to American power - politically, militarily, and economically. The major problem with this idea is that Europe is no longer competetive in any of these arenas. A few Europeans are beginning to understand that they've made poor choices, and those choices are cripling them in the economic and political marketplaces of the world. Unfortunately, it's not yet enough to cause the heart of "Old Europe" - Germany, France, Luxembourg, and Belgium - to make the changes necessary to be competetive. Instead, these nations try to criple the effectiveness of the United States, to bring it down to a level below their faltering economies.
It isn't working, and it won't work.
The majority of the people in the United States have seen the economic disaster area that is Old Europe, and don't want any part of it. Our Left still tries to sell the unsellable, and tries to incrementally move us to the same fate, which is one reason they're being marginalized from political power in this nation. They keep pointing to Europe, and to a lesser extent, to Canada, and say "We need to be like them", yet most Americans look at the failures of social systems that destroy initiative, result in rampant bureaucracy, rationing, and poor service, and say, "Why?".
Militarily, the Europeans have three or four states that have a modest military force equipped with modern weapons. The French brag about their "Force de Frappe", their 16 missiles armed with nuclear warheads that cannot reach their current enemies. The brag about their aircraft carrier, the "Charles DeGaulle", which seldom leaves port. Their colonial leadership left few nations with a workable government when those nations became independent.
Germany has an industrial capacity to build just about anything, but their workers are protected by union contracts, the economy is cripled by laws that restrict capital investment and expansion, and they live under a government impotent to make changes. They have an unsupportable number of unemployed, a grinding social spending burden, high taxes and weak productivity.
ALL of Europe has a problem with unassimilated emigrants, mostly from Arab nations, that are causing even more problems for the government, the economy, and the military. At the same time, their current social system practically guarantees a birthrate below replacement, and a constantly downward spiraling local ethnic population.
Western religion - the many faces of Christianity - is all but dead in "Old Europe", and not terribly healthy anywhere on the continent. On the flip side, there is a rising tide of militant Islam among the unassimilated Muslim population.
The new "European" Constitution will do nothing to relieve the problems, but will just provide a paper bandage over the hemoraging that is taking place on a daily basis, as Europe refuses to confront its problems and take corrective action. The Europe of the 21st Century is rapidly becoming a not-very-nice place to live in, and refuses to change.
Some people outside the United States are getting the message, and encouraging freedom of the individual, protection of individual rights, lower taxes, security of private property, personal responsibility, and greater individual opportunity. Those nations will prosper. They will provide the exampe that Old Europe especially needs to follow to pull itself out of its current malaise. Two good examples are Australia and Japan, both nations that accept the military and economic superiority of the United States, but who also know they have a place in the exchange of goods and services, and who understand the world's a dangerous place, and keep a strong military.
We, the United States, cannot force Europe to change, nor should we try. It is up to their people to force the changes necessary to return to rational actions and rational government. We need to be on guard against those that would force us to become another Europe, filled with the same failed systems, high taxes, low standards, and poor productivity. We need to maintain a strong military against growing military threats from China, and yes, even from many of our former European allies. Time marches on. Things change. It's time to rethink alliances, rebuild relationships based upon current conditions and reason, and to accept that some people, including some former friends, now envy us so much they're no longer our friends.