Robert Kagan’s prominent essay “Weakness and Power” describes the changing relationship between the United States and Europe. The author stresses on the beginning of a new phase in the relation between these two areas. Despite the fact that the essay was written ten years ago for the conference where Kagan had to deliver speech, it is widely discussed and even debated today.
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The main point of the work is that Europe is trying to hide from power beyond rules and laws, meanwhile the United States are applying power as the government understands that laws are no more reliable enough. As an outcome, the foreign policy is conducted quite in different ways. The burning problem of the USA is their impatience with diplomacy, desire to solve everything fast. Europeans, on the other hand, are tolerant and prefer negotiations and diplomacy.
Robert Kagan answers these questions in his outstanding essay. He thinks that peaceful strategies of Europe are comparatively new; the Europeans look at the world through the prism of weakness despite the fact that, in the past, the European countries were very powerful. On the contrary, the United States were weak 200 years ago, but now, this is one of the most powerful countries in the world. I think that now this situation changed quite a bit. Nothing has altered much in Europe, but a lot has changed for the USA as it is far from the world leading country now. I can agree with the thoughts of many researchers that China overtook its place now as the most powerful nation of the world (mostly thanks to its economic and technological breakthroughs).
The World War II contributed greatly to this shattering weakness of Europe. In 1990s, it was believed that Europe would be able to restore its power, however, some conflicts (for example, the Balkan conflict) undermined its capability of the military power.
We can clearly observe from the Lagan’s essay that the gap between Americans and Europeans is much deeper than many may think. Both of the areas have serious problems to solve and matters to discuss. But do Europe and the United States really differ so much?
In my opinion, the biggest problem of the European countries is their military vulnerability. Despite promoting peace in the world, with the invention of highly dangerous weapons, the precaution for protection should be taken seriously into consideration.
The most burning problem for the USA I consider to be the loss of the leading power on the world’s market. For this, I guess, the best way is to go back from the economy-oriented policy to the technology-oriented one. In the past, the United States gained its economic welfare by the means of investing into technological sector to automate production everywhere, therefore, increasing the amount of export and alleviating manual work.
It looks like nowadays the two continents are controversial with each other; and they need to work out common policies to carry the countries out of the crisis which slowly turns flourishing nations into a strong recess. And this recess will not end up on its own; it needs to be cured and amended.
As Robert Kagan aptly noticed, the American power gave Europe the opportunity to understand that the power is not important anymore. This is quite ironical, because when the U.S. Army helped Europeans to solve the problem with Germany during the War, Europe decided that the United States would always come to solve such problems for them in the future, too. And this makes European continent even more vulnerable in the eyes of danger.
I have the desire to say that it is the time to wake up and stop daydreaming. We are no longer at our best to loosen our grip. Our future is in our hands, and we should make it the happy one.
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