April 09, 2004

The Majesty of the King and European Negotiating Tactics

Steven Den Beste's piece on negotiation is generally good but I think it underestimates what the EU is trying to do with their attempts at haughtiness. They are trying to go to an old well, the assumed cultural and civilizational superiority of Europe and the ingrained habit of other countries to bow down to that superiority. This isn't necessarily a bad tactic. In a Kerry administration, for example, it is far more likely to work which is why the US center-right is talking about how "french looking" John Kerry is. It's a veiled reference to their conviction that he will concede unnecessarily to the assumption that the EU contains his betters and that he will take marching orders from them.

Obviously, Texas Republicanism is less susceptible to this sort of thinking and it drives the EU batty to no end. But the tactic of trying to assume the majesty of the king and impose their will on us through sheer awe at their magnificence is not a bad idea as long as it has a hope of working. It will not end until there is a durable bipartisan agreement between Democrats and Republicans that, no, we are the superior force and it is they, not we, who should tremble before the majesty of our system, our civilization that we have taken from their hands and improved beyond their capability to imitate.

This would require a great deal of reform in the center-left of our political tradition. It would require an even greater reform in academia which serves as exhibit #1 in any parade of american cultural forces quivering in awe at the superiority of Europe.

In the US, the people are king. And it is before that kingly majesty and the shining city on the hill that they create in their daily efforts that the world, rightly should cede primacy of place. You want something different, do better now, do better in future. Create your multipolar world by equaling and, if you can, besting us. But until you can manage it, don't expect to be taken seriously by your betters. While we're not betters by right, we're betters by results of effort. Europe needs to recognize its place, while recoverable, is no longer the top of the heap.

Posted by TMLutas at April 9, 2004 12:54 PM