Full partners must step up to the plate
Let’s suppose that in the previous century or so, Western Europe had come to the United States’ rescue in three wars, two hot and one cold.
Let’s suppose the United States had long since recovered economically from the two hot wars and was generally comparable economically to Western Europe.
Let’s suppose that in the previous three quarters of a century or so, Western Europe had nevertheless provided a substantial share of the United States’ defense, thereby allowing the United States to devote America’s own capital to other projects.
Let’s suppose such projects had included infrastructure – roads, bridges, airports, railroads, ports, and the like – that just sparkled, while Western Europe’s did not.
Let’s suppose that during these same decades, Western Europe had borne the lion’s share of other projects in the West, such as space exploration.
Let’s suppose that during these same decades, Western Europe had been similarly generous to countries other than the United States. Think, for example, of Eastern Asia and the Middle East.
Let’s suppose that during these same decades, Western Europe had largely and in effect been the world’s police department: The one that everyone else looked to first when something went wrong.
Let’s suppose that Canada were not a North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, member.
Let’s suppose that a year ago, Russia had launched an unprovoked invasion of Canada.
Let’s suppose that during this year, Canadians had fought valiantly to save themselves and their country.
Let’s suppose that somehow and to whatever extent, Western Europe should indeed be part of that effort, whatever that might mean.
Let’s suppose that although the United States had provided significant assistance to Canada during this year, Western Europe had provided far, far more than the United States.
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Suppose all of these things.
Wouldn’t you think that Western Europe would be well within its rights to convey diplomatically to the United States something like this?
Decades ago we in Western Europe should have persisted in having this conversation with you, the United States. That we in Western Europe did not do so is our fault, not yours.
We appreciate not only our alliance with you but also our friendship with you. We treasure both. We are especially grateful for trans-Atlantic educational- and cultural-exchange programs that have brought such enormous benefit to our citizens and thereby to our countries. We want this alliance, this friendship, and these exchanges to continue.
As part of this alliance and this friendship, Western Europe has come to your aid. Substantially – not entirely, but substantially – because of Western Europe’s efforts, you have long since been capable of being a full partner in the West, which you speak of being. We welcome and encourage such an aspiration.
Full partners need to be full partners, not only in words but also in deeds.
As a full partner, it would behoove the United States to do even more regarding those efforts, particularly defense, that benefit the United States.
This was true long before the Russian invasion of Canada. It would have remained true even if Russia had not invaded Canada. It is especially true now.
Canada is your neighbor, not ours. You, not we, should be providing the lion’s share of the resources to save Canada.
We in Western Europe are not the Romans. We do not want an empire. We dare not spread our resources so far, so wide, and so thin that we contribute to our own eventual demise, as the Romans did.
This is not about Western Europe seeking a course of isolationism. This is about encouraging a full partner among Western nations – as part of the internationalism that must continue – to carry its share of the load.
We in Western Europe have our own needs to which we need to attend. We have overlooked our own needs – infrastructure comes to mind – for long enough. We dare not do so any longer.
In your country, you have a game called “baseball.” We don’t play it much, yet we understand that “stepping up to the plate” means giving your all to your own tasks.
The United States would do well to give full consideration to stepping up to the plate.
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Now you, gentle reader, may decipher the conclusion of this column.
Dr. Randy Elf remains grateful for having taken part in trans-Atlantic exchanges.
COPYRIGHT ç 2023 BY RANDY ELF