A sample from writer Susan Sontag’s Friedenspreis peace prize acceptance speech, reproduced in The Guardian:
What the Americans see is almost the reverse of the Europhile cliché: they see themselves defending civilisation. The barbarian hordes are no longer outside the gates. They are within, in every prosperous city, plotting havoc. The “chocolate-producing” countries (France, Germany, Belgium) will have to stand aside, while a country with “will” – and God on its side – pursues the battle against terrorism (now conflated with barbarism). According to secretary of state Colin Powell, it is ridiculous for old Europe (sometimes it seems only France is meant) to aspire to play a role in governing or administering the territories won by the coalition of the conqueror. It has neither the military resources nor the taste for violence nor the support of its cosseted, all-too-pacific populations. And the Americans have it right. Europeans are not in an evangelical – or a bellicose – mood.
Indeed, sometimes I have to pinch myself to be sure I am not dreaming: that what many people in my own country now hold against Germany, which wreaked such horrors on the world for nearly a century – the new “German problem”, as it were – is that Germans are repelled by war; that much of German public opinion is now virtually … pacifist.
Were America and Europe never partners, never friends? Of course. But perhaps it is true that the periods of unity – of common feeling – have been exceptions, rather than the rule. One such time was from the second world war through the early cold war, when Europeans were profoundly grateful for America’s intervention, succour and support. Americans are comfortable seeing themselves in the role of Europe’s saviour. But then, America will expect the Europeans to be forever grateful, which is not what Europeans are feeling right now.
From “old” Europe’s point of view, America seems bent on squandering the admiration – and gratitude – felt by most Europeans. The immense sympathy for the United States in the aftermath of the attack on September 11, 2001 was genuine. But what has followed is an increasing estrangement on both sides.
The citizens of the richest and most powerful nation in history have to know that America is loved, and envied … and resented. More than a few who travel abroad know that Americans are regarded as crude, boorish, uncultivated by many Europeans, and don’t hesitate to match these expectations with behaviour that suggests the ressentiment of ex-colonials. And some of the cultivated Europeans who seem most to enjoy visiting or living in the United States attribute to it, condescendingly, the liberating virtues of a colony where one throws off the restrictions and high-culture burdens of “back home”.
Just a snippet of an excellent read: check out the rest.