Today, Europe, the birthplace of the most magnificent civilizations to have graced this Earth, inspires only contempt. A prominent recent example was that of U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama in a lengthy interview with Jeffrey Goldberg ofThe Atlantic. In it, Obama blames European leaders for the chaos that followed his launching a war against Libya:
“Free riders aggravate me,” he told me [Goldberg]. Recently, Obama warned that Great Britain would no longer be able to claim a “special relationship” with the United States if it did not commit to spending at least 2 percent of its GDP on defense. “You have to pay your fair share,” Obama told David Cameron, who subsequently met the 2 percent threshold.
“When I go back and I ask myself what went wrong,” Obama said, “there’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up,” he said. He noted that Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, lost his job the following year. And he said that British Prime Minister David Cameron soon stopped paying attention, becoming “distracted by a range of other things.”
Obama is of course not the first American president to have expressed frustration with the soft, war-averse, welfare-addled, nagging, and comfort-addicted smugly “post-historical” Eloi the Europeans have become since the Second World War. But his annoyance at Great Britain and France is striking insofar as these two are the last Western European nations to make any pretense of being even middle powers. The rest – Germany, Italy, Spain, et al – don’t even try.