These two collections of essays examine the rift between the United States and its European allies, caused by the new foreign policy of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. The Levy, Pensky, and Torpey collection begins with the 2003 "manifesto" of Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida and gathers short pieces published in European newspapers (with the bizarre exception of French ones). The collection edited by Lindberg is a set of longer pieces, comments on or responses to Robert Kagan's famous essay on power and weakness -- on Martian (that is, martial) America and Venusian Europe.
Two or three years after these pieces were written, most do not seem as impressive as they may have when they first came out. On the European side, the clash between Washington and "old Europe" has not become a permanent cleavage, and the Europeans have spent far more time trying to rearrange their own house than denouncing their ally. The responses to Habermas and Derrida show a very broad range of reactions, misgivings, worries, and hesitations and convey a strong sense of collective impotence. The longer pieces in the Lindberg volume have the merit of showing that Kant was not as unrealistic as Kagan suggested and that the two sides of the Atlantic will continue to need each other. In the house of transatlantic relations, there was a genuinely damaging fire, but there was even more smoke and more coughing than actual burns.
Get the latest book reviews delivered to your inbox.