Like a common sigh. It is very easy to summarize the European reaction after the recent inauguration of Joe Biden as President of the United States.
Not only was Donald Trump an elephant in the diplomatic porcelain store, he was also an archbishop of pure Swedish. Whoever insulted his hosts easily and accidentally during state visits or imagined that the European Union was a business model for Satan with the United States – it was also erratic.
But it might not be that simple. Maybe there is something Trump taught us that we should thank him for. And this, if we do our part, could improve relations between Europe and the United States.
We all had reason to be grateful for the American victory in World War II, an event that has marked everyone’s lives for three quarters of a century now. Not only politically, but also at the grassroots level – which has also taken its course in everything from jazz to Charleston and Hollywood already after the World War before that, a hundred years ago. The United States saved us not only from Nazism, but from Communism as well. On the other side of the Iron Curtain, the United States was the bright beacon in totalitarian darkness.
Thus, we have relied on the political leadership of the United States, as well as superior military strength. At the same time, like the typical teens, we took the right to question American paternity at the same time at our own discretion. When faced with big and difficult political challenges, we demanded loudly for American leadership and American efforts. And if these efforts were less successful, then of course we had the right to complain and criticize the United States.
Trump claimed that we Europeans are taking advantage of the United States and even threatened to leave NATO. In the capitals of Europe, people were almost terrified. Soon after, it turned out that a lot was just mouthwashes – but just not. The free trade agreement already negotiated between the United States and the European Union, for example, imposed tax atomization.
And then, if not sooner, we realized how terrible we’d been before – whether the US president was a Republican or a Democrat. But also how comfortable and paralyzed we have become, as there have been damaging features in our relationship with the United States. It was at times also a cause of American dissatisfaction, although it required an unusually bad expression with Trump in power.
We hope we have learned our lesson. Because we shouldn’t imagine the well-being of Europe at the top of Joe Bidens’ to-do list. In the worst case, we risk shocked at how insignificant that change is, even if Biden is of course a much bigger diplomat than Trump.
We hope we have also learned that French President Emmanuel Macron has more than just small points when he talks about European sovereignty and strategic autonomy. We can no longer blindly trust the United States – which in the long run is actually good and beneficial on both sides of the Atlantic. For one reason, you don’t have to exclude the other. We should definitely protect cooperation with the United States, but it would be good if the same could be done in more equal ways.
Meanwhile, events in the United States have shown that the challenges can look different. The “Black American Lives Matter” movement cannot automatically translate into European conditions, while fortunately we are also largely missing out on what is often confused as the aggressive white-power militia. By the way, we have more than enough specific European problems to import the American contradictions.
More than 75 years after the end of World War II, all this is essentially a natural development, especially since more than three decades have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Too bad it would take someone as brutal as Trump to understand him.