Free Trade

Europe, in Trade Talks, Must Avoid Anti-American Clichés at Transatlantic Negotiating Table

Containers wait to be loaded on a ship at Hamburg's port. Source: DPA
Containers wait to be loaded on a ship at Hamburg's port.

Human nature can be self-destructive some times. Like the statement: “It serves my mother right that my hands are freezing. Why doesn’t she buy me any gloves?”

Diseases like bulimia and anorexia are also symptoms of a dangerous developmental disorder. Some people deep down refuse to avoid becoming an adult with its burdens and responsibilities.

Are there analogous disorders in the behaviors of societies, peoples and nations?

Our world is confusing. Speed and complexity overtax all of us, but when something hits home affecting the natural, vital necessities of life, the average citizen has trouble moving forward. Instead of confronting the problem rationally, creatively and patiently in search of a solution, they add another obstacle, a vague longing for simplicity and a heightened desire to find offense. Waiting on the sidelines and ready to jump into the fray are fanatical activists, political lobbyists and politicians looking for the spotlight. They seek symbols that can be used for everything.

So, a once in a lifetime event such as the unification of Europe is reduced to talk of “showerheads” or “curved cucumbers,” which the European Union has sought to regulate at one time or another. Or a historic effort to change energy policies in Germany are smirked at as “Trittin’s asparagus effect,” a reference to Jürgen Trittin, a Green Party politician who served as the country’s environment minister from 1998 to 2005.

Those looking at the United States from this side of the Atlantic these days see nothing but a giant, chlorinated chicken melded with a ravenous data-eating monster that is swallowing up every bit of European information and privacy. Certainly there are good reasons to call out the Americans for their insatiable intelligence gathering efforts, or to openly discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) before signing on the dotted line.

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