The Continentalist: U.S. Cannot Afford to ‘Lose’ Europe

The Continentalist: U.S. Cannot Afford to ‘Lose’ Europe

It is common wisdom that foreign policy does not decide U.S. presidential elections, and few issues inspire less enthusiasm these days than a Europe stuck in a currency crisis that it seems unable to fix. Europeans are also very familiar with the growing American belief that Europe no longer matters at all in the global arena. As a result, few were expecting any emphasis on Europe or the European Union as one of America’s most steadfast strategic partners in President Barack Obama’s keynote speech at the Democratic Party convention last week.

Still, Obama’s only reference to Europe came as a surprise to European audiences: “Terrorist plots must be disrupted. Europe’s crisis must be contained.” For Obama to reduce Europe to its current difficulties, a risk comparable to the terrorist threat, is especially jarring to European ears, given that most Europeans are pulling for Obama to win re-election, much as they favored him in 2008.

Instead, many Europeans would have liked to hear Obama include just that one sentence more: that the U.S. is confident Europe will soon overcome its crisis, and that a reinforced and more integrated Europe will develop toward being a real peer partner with which Washington will work closely on issues ranging from global security to achieving a trans-Atlantic market that can compete with the world’s rapidly rising powers.

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