Barack Obama’s terms have been described as post-European because they devalue Europe in the hierarchy of American priorities. It is likely that the official discourse has been more concerned with challenges in Asia and the Middle East than in Europe, but that doesn’t mean this continent has left the radar. More than just a decrease in trans-Atlantic issues, we are watching an attempt to fine-tune a new discourse. However, it is only necessary to revisit Hillary Clinton’s article, “America’s Pacific Century” (2011) — the closest thing to a grand strategy — in order to draw three conclusions: the damning realities of the Middle East and Europe do not allow them to be devalued; the American pivot toward the Pacific did not have the desired pace; there is no “end in sight” for Afghanistan and Iraq, which have now experienced turmoil subsequent to the American withdrawal. In other words, reality plotted the dynamics of a post-European narrative.
First, Russian aggressiveness resurrected NATO, buried the appeasement between Obama and Medvedev, and refined the energy targets of European governments at a time when the shale gas revolution brought independence to the U.S. This is the time for Eastern Europe to return as a priority for the Pentagon, and NATO will be a competitive stage for the attention of American military logistics. Unintentionally, Putin removed the U.S. as the “indispensable nation” for Europe. But this is also the time for opportunities. Most American shale gas reserves are along the Atlantic coast, and Canada and Mexico are also revealing their energy potential, making the Atlantic look a desirable location for European diversification. Besides being safe, it is ruled by close political and economic ties that are almost unbreakable.
Second, we must uncover the economic reality, often overshadowed by the alleged post-European mantle. Since 2000, China has represented just 1.5 percent of American global investment, twelve times less than the Netherlands and six times less than Ireland. In 2013, the U.S. invested four times more in the Netherlands than in all the BRIC countries [Brazil, Russia, India and China] combined, and in 2014 the profits of American companies in Europe exceeded the results of Latin America and Asia together. During that year, Florida exported eight times more to Europe than to China, and California twice as much. We can argue the terms of Obama’s post-European narrative, but we cannot deny the reality.
The U.S. will again be the great power balancing Europe, since it is the only one capable of influencing Germany on how to run the eurozone, of preventing the exit of the U.K. from the EU, and of warning Le Pen in case she waves to Putin from the Élysée Palace, proffering a new axis. Never, since 1945 and 1989, has Europe needed the U.S. as much as today.