June 15, 2004

WIDER THAN THE ATLANTIC:

U.S.-Europe Division Runs Deeper Than Iraq (John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, June 14, 2004, LA Times)

There is a moment in all strained relationships when people simply have to acknowledge they are, for better or worse, fundamentally different. Something similar may slowly be happening with the transatlantic alliance.

[A]merica is simply a more right-wing place than Europe. That does not mean that all Americans are conservatives (you only have to go to Berkeley, Boulder or Brentwood to discover that), but the center of gravity is further to the right.

Look at any poll of attitudes toward the basic questions of politics — the size of government, the role of capitalism, spending on defense, crime and punishment, attitudes to multinational institutions like the U.N. — and America takes a more right-wing approach than any other developed country.

Even set alongside Britain, its nearest equivalent, America tolerates a far higher degree of inequality, with 1 in 6 households earning less than a third of median income (in Britain, the figure is closer to 1 in 20); its incarceration rate is five times that of Britain, Europe's toughest sentencer; America spends much less on government in general, but twice as much on defense per head; it brings religion into politics far more often.

The gap is more extreme if you compare America with France or Germany.

Does the fact that America is the only Western country to retain the death penalty explain why France and Germany didn't support the Iraq war? Of course not. But it does help explain why American policy seems so foreign to so many Europeans. The conservative parts of the country — the South, much of the West, the suburbs — are exactly the bits most Europeans never visit.

The decision to invade Iraq exaggerated the disagreements between Europe and America. But these had already begun to roil the transatlantic relationship more than it was at the end of the Cold War.


All true so far as it goes, but they ignore the obverse of the division, which is that conservative America treasures freedom far more than the other Western nations. Indeed, the European insistence on equality and economic security is antithetical to the American passion for liberty. It is also, of course, counterproductive, contributing to Europe's economic decline and thereby exacerbating the divisions.


MORE:
-Right Nation: Meet Dustin and Maura, exemplars of America’s unique conservatism.: first in a series of excerpts from The Right Nation, by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. (John Micklethwait & Adrian Wooldridge, 6/14/04, National Review)

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 15, 2004 7:42 AM
Comments

"Even set alongside Britain, its nearest equivalent, America tolerates a far higher degree of inequality, with 1 in 6 households earning less than a third of median income (in Britain, the figure is closer to 1 in 20)"

And the average Brit has a lower standing of living than the average American.And most of our middle middle class would be considered at least upper middle class in the UK.


"its incarceration rate is five times that of Britain, Europe's toughest sentencer"

And their crime has been skyrocketing while ours has been plunging.

"America spends much less on government in general, but twice as much on defense per head"

And how is this bad?


"it brings religion into politics far more often."

Tell that to them Muslims of Europe,chump.

Posted by: at June 15, 2004 9:57 AM
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