Unfriended by Europe
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Is trouble brewing with our European friends? Are we (with Britain) being unfriended by continental Europe? In early February, Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, met with leaders of Russia, France and Ukraine to discuss a peace plan for the Ukraine. America's secretary of State was conspicuously missing from the table. But he denied that there was a rift between the U.S. and Europe over how to respond to the crisis.

"There is no division, there is no split," said John KerryJohn Forbes KerryPoll: More Republican voters think party is more united than Democratic voters Biden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much Longtime Biden adviser posthumously tests positive for coronavirus MORE. "I keep hearing people trying to create one."


But is there?

Reuters reports this weekend that Der Spiegel news magazine said an official in Merkel's offices had complained of Air Force General Philip Breedlove's "dangerous propaganda" over Ukraine and that German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier had talked to the NATO general secretary about him.

And the Fiscal Times reports a distinct shift in policy. Berlin's foreign ministry began a study last year to determine the core principles guiding its relations with the rest of the world, writes Patrick Smith.

"'Review 2014—Foreign Policy Thinking Ahead,' as Steinmeier named his project when he took office in December 2013, is an implicit challenge to the U.S. policy," says Smith. "It is almost certainly intended to be so, although those courteous Germans would never say as much."

Why such a shift in Germany's attitude toward the U.S? And why does Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, suddenly call today for an EU army? And will the National Front's Marine Le Pen, who tells France that Russia is the better friend, come to power in in 2017? What does it all collectively mean?

It suggests that the post-World War II Pax Americana, known to us as the Atlantic Alliance, is entering twilight. It suggests that Europe has grown tired of us.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, when Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia in 1994, I made the claim that Russia would seek its old Russian soul again and find it. And soon after, Europe would move from the American tempo and influence and do the same. If one image can explain, it might be the perfect metaphor the Soviet Union's last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, offered when the abstraction of world communism came crashing to earth around Russia. They all had pictures of Vladimir Lenin on the wall, he said, but underneath, was a picture of the holiest icon of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Black Madonna of Kazan.

The past does not go away. It lives underneath as if in sleep. And so it begins to reemerge now in the rest of Europe today.

As the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) today destroys Nimrud, we likewise attempt to destroy our pasts. It has been the curse of the passing century; the rise of the "new man" philosophies shaking the world in Russia, China and America as well. But beneath the multiple abstractions lies the singular life force of Earth Mother, Notre Dame, the Black Madonna. She comes again today with a war cry as Khalese, she of the Great Grass Sea in "Game of Thrones": "I will take which is mine with fire and blood." Her intention is to return us to ourselves; the self we, like Russia, long left behind.

But America's situation is different. To what do we return? We have just barely got here to this continent. We are unique in the world in that. We are like the Masked Man gunned down, left for dead, and retrieved to life again in the desert by a passing Indian shaman, but born again with no memory of his past: "Who is the Masked Man?" we were asked every week in the first days of TV. We are the Masked Man, our ancient memory irretrievable, our identity and fate yet unknown, even to ourselves.

Possibly we will all be born again in Texas like the Lone Ranger and our true American journey has not yet begun. Our two first centuries, clustered on the Atlantic Coast, have been preoccupations with Europe that brought us to two world wars. But if there is one true thing we learn here even after just three generations this side of the waters, it is that we are no longer Europeans. Ask any Texan.

And it is our responsibility, our existential need, still to go forward and go alone to find who we are in the desert to which we are destined to be born again.

For us, there is nothing under Gorbachev's picture. Not yet. For us there is no turning back.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.