Britain and France have taken sharply opposing positions within the European Union; competing declarations have lined up other states in one camp or the other. Washington has divided its European allies into supporters and opponents, crudely labelled ‘old’ and ‘new’ Europe. Its conservative think tanks have hailed this ‘success’, and declared that it is in America’s strategic interest to keep Europe weak and subservient.
It is important to recognise how far the development of an open international economy – the foundation for the astonishing, if uneven, global economic development over the past half-century – has rested on American multilateral leadership, and its partnership with west European states through multilateral institutions.
Australia and Canada were founder members of the post-1945 ‘west’; Japan from the 1970s became to a limited extent a partner in a broader coalition of industrial democracies, with Korea and Mexico also playing minor roles.