The Power of Economics and Public Opinion

Robert Kagan seemed to crystallize the growing transatlantic rift when he wrote “Power and Weakness” ten years ago. However, time has revealed some hidden flaws in his logic. Kagan underestimated the policy arenas where Europe has mattered to the United States. Just as Europe has thrived under the security umbrella of the United States, Washington has benefited from the support of Brussels’ economic power. Second, in discussing the strategic cultures of Europe and America, Kagan obscured the gap between public attitudes and policy elites—particularly on this side of the Atlantic. In doing so, he failed to note the ways in which these strategic cultures diverged from the attitudes of the mass public.

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