OPINION
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Our American friend

Despite Europe being surrounded by geopolitical tensions and terrorist threats, Europeans still don’t realize what is going on

Barack Obama and David Cameron in London in April.
Barack Obama and David Cameron in London in April.ANDY RAIN / EFE

Our American friend is a little tired of Europeans. Once upon a time it was a colony of them, and while that was a while ago now, and it currently has a very special relationship with its former occupant, the truth is that its memory of all that is as colored by that as it is filtered by the memory of how costly it was to emancipate itself from such an unbearable mother country.

After its independence, our American friend decided to isolate itself, because everything that the old Europe represented (dynastic battles between autocracies, persecutions and a lack of economic and religious freedom) was profoundly repulsive. But while the United States wanted to leave Europe in peace, Europe didn’t leave the US in peace. On two occasions during the first half of the last century, thousands of young Americans had to die on European soil to defend Europeans from themselves. “What do you think of Western civilization?” they asked Gandhi. And with irony, he replied: “I think it would be a good idea.” What they call civilization, we haven’t seen much of, those young Americans must of thought, the ones who were gassed in the trenches at Ypres, or machine-gunned down in Normandy. And so that these Europeans wouldn’t risk it all for a third time, the US left 250,000 soldiers stationed in Europe for half-a-century, and committed to the security, prosperity and freedom of the continent.

Our American friend thought that Europeans were now old enough to solve their own problems. And that perhaps they could stop having to save their bacon. But it wasn’t to be, because while Europe might be surrounded by a ring of fire, geopolitical tensions and terrorist threats that spread from the Arctic to the western Mediterranean, Europeans still don’t know what’s going on. So senile is the old Europe that even the former colonial power has decided to organize a nice little referendum to decide whether it should return to the “splendid isolationism” and get out of the continent. And in glorious and liberated France, which gave the Statue of Liberty to the Americans as a gift, there are also those who want to lock the gates. And there are still those who are surprised at the fact that Trump wants to do the same: before you leave, I’ll get out of here first, right? @jitorreblanca