Though it is respected abroad as an authoritative news source, Der Spiegel has long peddled crude and sensational anti-Americanism, usually grounded in its brand of knee-jerk German pacifism. Covers over the years have impugned the United States as “The Conceited World Power” (with an image of the White House bestriding the globe), repeated the hoary “Blood for Oil” charge as the rationale for the Iraq War, and, in the run-up to George W. Bush’s reelection campaign, asked, “Will America Be Democratic Again?” When Edward Snowden leaked information detailing U.S. surveillance practices several years ago, Der Spiegel went on a crusade unlike anything in its recent history, railing about U.S. intelligence cooperation with Germany and demanding that Berlin grant Snowden asylum. (The magazine demonstrated none of the same outrage when, two years later, Russia hacked the German parliamentary computer network). Last year, Der Spiegel notoriously featured a cartoon of Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty on its cover. And this May, one of its columnists misappropriated the memory of those who struggled against Nazism by calling for “resistance against America,” quite a demand for a magazine from the country that started World War II.The magazine has one of the largest and most professional fact-checking departments in Europe, yet Relotius' lies and invention got past all the checks. When he confessed to his editor "I'm sick and I need to get help" you may think, as I do, that the fault was not all on the part of the rogue journo - what about all those smug self-satisfied German readers who lapped it up, who never evinced a single doubt at the crude anti-American lies? They didn't baulk because the articles fed their own anti-American prejudices. As the newly-appointed US Ambassador pointed out
Yet move beyond the heart of Europe and the US, even Trump's US, is held in high regard; Vietnam loves the US just as much as Americans themselves, and the Philippines, South Korea, Poland, Nigeria, Italy, Ghana and Hungary only slightly less so. Spain, Germany and the Netherlands love the US least - along with Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and Serbia. European anti-Americanism is more than just jejune spitefulness but is founded, I believe, in resentment - what Gregorio Marañón termed 'the painful slavery of gratitude'.
Those of us who grew up during the Cold War are generally grateful that the US and NATO stood together against the threat of nuclear annihilation that faced us. However, more intelligent UK attitudes towards our alliance with the US are tinged with caution. Our having to develop the nuclear bomb twice - once for the US and once for ourselves from 1947, taught the UK an important lesson - as did Suez, when the US rightly refused to back this particular piece of Anglo-French stupidity. 'Yo Blair' in his over-tight ball-strangling cord jeans was played like a patsy over Iraq, and Obama showed us what a president with an unfriendly face looks like. Yet the US with our three Commonwealth allies forms the heart of the world's most efficient and secret intelligence gathering and sharing partnership in Five Eyes, and the UK's military capabilities are valued above all other NATO allies.
Under Obama, and continuing under Trump, the US is adjusting to a multi-polar world, one in which the US is not alone in holding superpower advantages. As the US modifies its global sheriff role, refuses to carry the EU free-riders of NATO and even anticipates the Yuan joining the dollar as a global reserve currency, America still exercises the influences of a Normative Power. The values it espouses and the power it projects to secure those norms continues to reach throughout Europe, but the EU may be in the process of cutting its own throat.
Donald Tusk (one of the EU's five unelected 'Presidents') wrote to member nations on the eve of the Malta summit
"The first threat, an external one, is related to the new geopolitical situation in the world and around Europe. An increasingly, let us call it, assertive China, especially on the seas, Russia's aggressive policy towards Ukraine and its neighbours, wars, terror and anarchy in the Middle East and in Africa, with radical Islam playing a major role, as well as worrying declarations by the new American administration all make our future highly unpredictable. For the first time in our history, in an increasingly multipolar external world, so many are becoming openly anti-European, or Eurosceptic at best. Particularly the change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy.I repeat what Tusk ignores - that the US retreat from a 70-year old post war global role is not a Trump initiative; it began under Obama, and will continue under Trump's successor. I can detect a sort of petulant resentment in the tone of many from Brussels that the EU will cease to benefit from devoting its GDP to butter leaving the US to beggar its own development whilst doing the guns.
....... But today we must stand up very clearly for our dignity, the dignity of a united Europe - regardless of whether we are talking to Russia, China, the US or Turkey."
Couple this high-level stand-offishness and resentment with a growing EU and Left-wing anti-Semitism and with a low-level puerile jealousy prevalent amongst the EU's lumpen atavistics of America's normative character - Yes, the US is a nation that imprisons and executes more of its citizens than Europe finds comfortable, yet remains a shining beacon of freedom, hope and justice for much of the world, and a magnet for the world's poor - and future relations between the EU27 and the US do not look positive. For how much longer can an EU that openly abrogates the role of NATO, openly signals US exclusion from future defence procurement and openly fails to meet even the minimum NATO obligations, continue to rely on US goodwill?
To end, I pose again the question I first asked back in 2017
Which brings me to an interesting footnote - shared Nukes. The US, to help little countries without the bomb to feel included, has distributed 180 B61 air-launched nukes to Turkey, Germany (?), Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. These 'dial-a-yield' devices can be set on loading to yield from 0.3 to 170 kilotons (Hiroshima was 15) and they can be launched from a variety of national NATO aircraft - but need US consent to 'unlock' them. Will Mr Trump now ask for them back?
Spiked carries a piece on another German writer mired in mendacity and facing opprobrium - Robert Menasse, formerly hailed as the Alfred Rosenberg of the European Union