The 60-Year Itch?

JERUSALEM – “Europe is boring: thank God, for you and for us,” my interlocutor told me. “Today, drama is in the Middle East, growth is in Asia, hope is in Africa, and proximity to the United States is in Latin America. Europe is nowhere – it has become the lost continent.”

There is, of course, a little provocation and a lot of irony in these remarks. A few years ago, their speaker occupied important positions within US diplomacy; he is now a key figure of the New York establishment. And his provocation highlights a sad reality that Europeans must accept and confront: Europe no longer interests America.

Yes, the European Union’s enlargement since 2004 was preceded by NATO’s eastward expansion. But that has not made a real difference; at the end of the day, America is also losing interest in NATO, which turned in a not-fully-convincing performance in Libya and a downright poor one in Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, I gave a talk in Washington, DC, entitled “Hollande’s France: A Year After.” The audience members’ average age was significantly higher than mine (and I am 66). The complexities of French politics do not interest young Americans – and why should they? Would I have had a younger and larger audience if my talk had been called “Merkel’s Germany on the Eve of the Upcoming Election”?