How Long Will Americans Make Dinner and Europeans Wash the Dishes?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine shocked Europe, but the real earthquake will come with a potential Trump victory.

With the war in Ukraine, will Europeans continue to be from Venus? And will Americans continue to be from Mars?

Well, right. I’m stealing these metaphors from Robert Kagan, perhaps the author I have most revisited since 2022, when Russia Invaded Ukraine on a broad scale.

When I read him the first time at the beginning of the 21st century, I appreciated the intelligence, but not his prophesy. We were living at the “end of history,” and even with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, no one wanted to leave the resort.

Today, with three regional conflicts that threaten to transform into a global confrontation, Israel and Iran in the Middle East; China and Taiwan in Asia; Ukraine and Russia in Europe, it is impossible to reread Kagan without recognizing that he saw far ahead.

The reference to Mars and Venus is from his essay “Of Paradise and Power; America and Europe in the New World Order,” published in Brazil by Rocco.

Kagan’s thesis is this: Europe and the United States, in spite of being allies, do not live in the same world. Regarding questions of power, its efficacy, morality and necessity, Europe dwelled in a post-historical, Kantian paradise, where international law and diplomacy were priorities. Europe was from Venus.

Not the United States. The world continued as it always was: a chaotic place, violent, typically Hobbesian, where good intentions don’t survive the worst actors and the use of force is indispensable. The United States was from Mars.

And how do you explain the difference?

It is not a question of national “character,” you know, those cliches about Americans being rude and violent, accustomed to the Wild West, and always quick to the draw. It is a question of history; Europe was already from Mars and the United States, at its foundation, was firmly from Venus. But there was a change of places with World War I, and above all with World War II.

The destruction that the wars brought to the Europeans, and the crimes committed on the old continent, made Europe to retreat to the comforts of Venus.

As Kagan wrote, Europe made its transition to a post-modern world, where the use of force was taboo, and geopolitics was reduced to trade relations and virtue signaling.

The problem, however, is that Europe made this transition because the United States did not. On the contrary, the Americans guaranteed the security of Europe in the context of the Cold War and after its end.

And even when it was necessary for the Europeans to act militarily in their neighborhood (remember the war in the former Yugoslavia), Washington, not Paris or Berlin, had to do the heavy lifting. “The Americans made dinner and the Europeans washed the dishes,” Kagan pointed out. A comfortable position?

I’m sure it is. And if it is true that American unipolarity has its dangers — “When you have a hammer, all problems start to look like nails,” as Kagan said — it also is true that the military dependency of Europe in the face of the United States has its price. But nations without great military power face the opposite danger: “When you don’t have a hammer, you don’t want anything to look like a nail.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has shaken Europe as no other conflict has since World War II, but the real earthquake is on its way with a possible Donald Trump victory in this year’s election. The most recent packet of military aid to Ukraine valued at $60.8 billion could be the last.

To use Kagan’s metaphor, once again, what will become of Europe when the United States decides to retreat to Venus? Are European statesmen and their societies psychologically prepared to revisit Mars?

These are the questions that will define the future of Europe.

About this publication

About Jane Dorwart 200 Articles
BA Anthroplogy. BS Musical Composition, Diploma in Computor Programming. and Portuguese Translator.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply