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Columnist says U.S. rift with Europe is only getting worse

Having recently come back from living in Europe for the past three years, Robert Kagan, a columnist on world affairs for the Washington Post, said Europe and America are drifting farther apart on international affairs.

Kagan said regardless of whom is in the White House, a major cultural schism exists between the United States and its mainland Europe.

“Americans and Europeans have two different international world views,” Kagan said. “They each have two fundamentally different understandings of such issues of international order, international law and justice of the use of force.”

Kagan, a contributing editor to the New Republic and the Weekly Standard, pointed to the results of a 2003 transatlantic survey comparing Europeans’ views on war to Americans’ as evidence of a significant difference on the use of military power.

“Eighty-four percent of Americans think war could serve just purposes compared to only 48 percent of Europeans agreeing with that statement,” Kagan said.

Speaking at the USF Special Event Center Tuesday night in a lecture entitled “The Transatlantic Rift After Iraq,” Kagan talked about his experiences in Europe as an educated American journalist and how the Europeans view Americans’ opinions on politics.

He said the number of people that had attended the lecture, approximately 200, proved Europeans’ perception of Americans as narrow-minded about the rest of the world wrong.

“(While in Europe,) I spent a great deal of time fighting that view (about Americans,)” Kagan said.

He added that in his articles, written from Europe, as well as in his book that was released in January, Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in New World Order, he may have understated the differences between Europeans and Americans and each other’s views on subjects such as the war in Iraq.

Jeremy Huffman, a USF student, said he partly agrees with Kagan in the discrepancy between Europeans and Americans views on the war. Huffman said the problem exists with American media.

“Europeans are very critical because they’ve been involved in wars many times. (Europeans) see America as a big bully … spreading their views to other countries,” Huffman said. “(Americans) are very idealistic, very young. It’s interesting that (Kagan) cited that most Americans support the war. I might agree with that because there are a lot of Americans who are uninformed in regards to current events.”

Furthermore, Huffman strongly disagreed with Kagan’s encouragement of Europeans to get increased military capability.

“I don’t think (Kagan) sees the reality of things,” Huffman said. “(Kagan) is trying to force his views on Europeans when Europeans are doing fine. Europeans are living peacefully and their economy is doing great; the Euro is doing better than the dollar.”