Concerns mainly evolved around theories of Europe’s growing independence as a top global player – a player with the economic clout and vast market to sustain strong growth and, eventually, develop “community” global strategies that could impinge on US strategic interests, although in a “benign” way, for example, by slowly disengaging Europe from the Atlantic alliance or expressing views opposing American choices about world crises and problems.

The fears of early skeptics were quickly assuaged though. “United” Europe, if anything, grew less united and less capable of expressing solid positions on international problems as the years went by. By the beginning of the 21st century, the European Union was being buffeted by internal divisions and Germany’s developing power play as the “center” of Nova Europa. It took the bursting of the US real estate bubble and the developing crisis of Europe’s single currency, the euro, to create a maelstrom of events that few anticipated and the vast majority overlooked or simply ignored.

In the opening months of 2013, both the US and Europe remain locked in persistent internal crises. In the US, burgeoning deficits, political divisions, and bitter political party infighting appear to sap the nation’s capability to bounce back, something that it has done repeatedly in the past and with notable success.

In Europe, meantime, Germany’s dangerous policies of austerity have fanned the flames of anti-German feelings across the south of Europe, not to mention inside Germany’s historic adversary, France, and mathematically drive “united” Europe toward a veritable crisis of existence.

The big question for international relations experts on both sides of the Atlantic is not difficult to discern: would the confluence of these respective crises create a dynamic that could eventually split America from her traditional allies in Europe in ways that could not be repaired?

While both sides miss no opportunity to express their commitment to historical US-European ties, small cracks have appeared here and there, cracks that can easily become pronounced given a push or two. 

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew’s recent 2-day visit to Europe, for example, succeeded in only demonstrating a “deep trans-Atlantic policy gulf” on how to tackle the economic crisis: the Obama administration believes in growth-inducing policies, the German conclave rises again in neo-Calvinist fervor in favor of austerity.

Indeed, Germany’s refusal to address the obvious, and the messianic insistence of Wolfgang Schauble, its economy minister, that everybody in Europe supposedly sees the “rationale” for devastating weaker economies via revenge austerity, confirmed that the gulf between Washington and Berlin won’t be bridged any time soon.

American ideas of a stimulus and the steady, if unremarkable, US growth over the past year have many believers in Europe, especially among those in Europe’s south, who see their countries and societies in peril because of the German onslaught in favor of lenders and banks widely perceived as behind many of Europe’s current woes. And the realization that the euro experiment is becoming feebler by the day provides the further impetus for such preference for US positions to begin assuming European political form. The disaster of Cyprus and a developing, insidious effort to bring Slovenia into the “club of the failed” suggest that the German-North European coalition has yet to play its full hand concerning a plan (?) for a German-centered and dominated “union.”

Nicolas Sampson suggested that in order “to create something that works, one must first get rid of what it doesn’t.” Significant majorities in Europe are quickly coming to the conclusion that in order for a solution of the European crisis – any solution – to work, Germany must first be controlled. I dare venture that this view is picking up a following in the US as well.

The last time anyone attempted to control a belligerent, aggressive, ideologically motivated Germany the result was World War Two. Here’s some food for thought for the US side of the Atlantic, which should also take note of Jean Claude Juncker’s perhaps prophetic recent statement:

“Anyone who believes that the eternal question of war and peace in Europe is no longer there risks being deeply mistaken. The demons have not gone away — they’re only sleeping, as the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo showed. I am chilled by the realisation of how similar circumstances in Europe in 2013 are to those of 100 years ago.”

Good luck.

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