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Euro-skepticism and Anti-Americanism Erupt in Europe

Despite the violence that erupted around the European Union summit in Sweden, anarchists and EU leaders seem to have one thing in common: a growing distrust of the United States, their former Cold War ally. Bush's America seems determined to strike out on its own. European powers France, Germany and England, meanwhile, grapple over two burning questions: "Who will lead the EU?" and "Does the EU really need America?"

Now read Culturekiosque contributor Marco Schütz's review of several books examining the growing strains within Europe and between the EU and the US.

De la Prochaine Guerre avec l'Allemagne

La Tentation allemande

By Marco Schütz

PARIS, 16 June 2001 - "Watch out, the process of globalization, lacking logic and seeking modernity, will inevitable lead us all to MacDonalds." That is the warning issued by François Guillaume, député, former Minister and leader of the agricultural lobby, in a book that has been published recently by Lattès, to denounce Le Complot des maîtres du pouvoir (The Plot of Our Rulers). In his opinion, Europe is hardly better than America: the bureaucracy of Brussels is little more than a Trojan horse carrying Anglo-Saxon economic liberalism in order to impose it on the member states of the European Union.

What is true for agro-alimentary and cultural issues is even stronger in the case of world political crisis: The Kosovo conflict is but a striking illustration. Washington, scorning the lessons of the tormented history of the Balkans and following its own interests which are the opposite of the Europeans, decided to use NATO, the secular arm of its empire, to intervene in Yugoslavia. All the Europeans did was get down on their knees to align themselves with American policy.

But the Euro-skeptics are not the only ones in France to denounce the arrogance of the United States. Even among convinced Europeans, a number of voices has been raised to send Uncle Sam back to his own continent while European problems are resolved within the framework of the Union. The French ideologists of a coming European super-power hope that the British and especially the Germans will finally free themselves from the claws of the Americans. This dream of the Socialist senator Pierre Barnès, which is not dissimilar from that of General de Gaulle, was formulated in 1998 in his book Le XXIe Siècle ne sera pas américain (The 21st Century Will Not Be American; du Rocher): It is Germany that in a few years could well become the biggest disappointment to the Americans, even if today Berlin continues to behave like one of the best students of the Euro-Atlantic class, to the immense satisfaction of the Yankee master.

This opinion resembles that of Pierre Delmas. With the deliberately provacative title of his latest book, De la prochaine guerre avec l'Allemagne (About The Next War With Germany; Odile Jacob), this énarque tries to rid the French of their underlying fear of Germany. Delmas also calls for a return to the European policy advocated in his time by de Gaulle. Based on centralism and a certain "culture of power," the old French nation should in his opinion once again take over European affairs and block the Americans - with the assistance of a Germany that has undoubtedly been reunified, but is still uncertain as a nation and without a strong identity. For Delmas, there is no other hope, without French leadership, he explains, and building Europe definitely risks failure through a resurgence of the historic Franco-German affrontment.

"Mistake!", exclaims the philosopher and media expert Régis Debray in his latest book, Le code et le glaive (The Code and The Sword; Albin Michel / Fondation Marc-Bloch). Someone who has made the front page of the newspapers by daring to voice his opinions of NATO's actions in Kosovo, Debray wishes that hypocrisy would cease. The unofficial plan for a defensive alliance run by Paris and Berlin against the double supremacy (politico-military and economico-cultural) of the United States results from a French narcissistic illusion. In European affairs, each nation thinks only of its own interests: "The English are working towards an Anglo-Saxon Europe, the French for a French Europe, the Germans for a German Europe," etc. And in this race for ulterior motives it is not France but Germany that seems to be winning. Debray thinks it inevitable that Brussels gets along better with Berlin than with Paris because the European allocation of competences (following the principle of subsidiarity) is based on an extension of the German model: federalism. Germany thus feels closer to the United States than to any other partner.

Debray also states that France stands to lose much more than any other nation in the "planing down of [national] peculiarities" which is at the heart of the European Union. For him, the republican model is incompatible with a liberal democracy inspired by the United States - i.e. organized around the free play of private interests. His book could be considered a manifesto of the Marc Bloch Foundation, a group of leftish nationalist intellectuals founded two years ago, close to theMouvement des Citoyens (Citizens' Movement) of Jean-Pierre Chevènement, who is a militant of such Jacobin values as centralism and secularity. Its members include well-known academics and journalists as Jean-François Kahn, founder of the weekly Marianne. Identified as national-republican by the daily paper Le Monde, the group knows no fear when it comes to attacking Europe: right after its creation, the Fondation contacted the former Minister of the Interior, Charles Pasqua, who had announced his intention to found a new party assembling the partisans of sovereignty, to the right of the right, following the success of his list in the European elections.

Whether from the right or left, anti-Americanism and anti-Germanism often go together. Thus the Belgian Marxist journalist Michel Collon considers Germany and the United States solely responsible for the breaking down of Tito's Yugoslavia and the wars that have been destroying the Balkans for almost ten years. For Bonn, this crisis offered the possibility of controlling all of central Europe from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, Collon affirms in his book Poker menteur; EPO, Bruxelles). Moreover, the war in Yugoslavia offered a means for the Kohl government to force London and Paris to accept its own strategy. By selling weapons to the ex-Yugoslav secessionist republics, the politicians in Bonn were simply reactivating an old formula of Nazi imperialism. Following the same anti-German line, we might also mention the work of Yvonne Bollmann, La Tentation allemande (The German Temptation; Michalon). This scholar of German history implicitly accuses the Germans of wanting to take back Alsace-Lorraine by way of European regionalization, a theory that led to her being the guest of honor of the Académie du Gaullisme. Jacques Dauer, the secretary-general of that organization and close to Charles Pasqua, was one of the first to sign the anti-NATO manifesto, Non à la guerre (No to the war), launched by the group of extreme rightist intellectuals gathered around Alain de Benoist..

François Guillaume, Le Complot des maîtres du pouvoir (Editions Lattès, Paris 2000)
Pierre Barnès, Le XXIe Siècle ne sera pas américain (Editions du Rocher, Paris 2000)
Philippe Delmas, De la Prochaine Guerre avec l'Allemagne (Editions Odile Jacob, Paris 1999)
Yvonne Bollmann, La Tentation allemande (Editions Michalon, Paris 2000)
Régis Debray, Le Code et le glaive (Editions Albin Michel / Fondation Marc-Bloch, Paris 1999)
Michel Collon, Poker menteur (Editions EPO, Bruxelles 2000)

Marco Schütz writes on books and politics for the German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung and is the German affairs and book editor for Courrier International in Paris.

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