Madhav Nalapat holds the UNESCO Peace Chair at Manipal University in India.
The United States will not be able to maintain its primacy in the 21st century by clinging to assumptions valid only in the 20th. Thus far, the U.S. and the European Union have frequently, in the form of NATO and otherwise, formed a package while dealing with the rest of the world. It was such an identity that caused the tragedy in Vietnam, where Washington sought to follow in the footsteps of Paris. And since 2001, the United States has persisted in dragging bits of Europe along with it in its foreign operations, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere. In Libya, meanwhile, Washington followed Paris and London into an endeavor that has left the country ungovernable.
With its colonial baggage and continuing condescending attitude, the major European powers are strategic deadweight for the United States, slowing down and diffusing its resonance and thrust in Asia, Africa and South America. It was hoped that President Obama would free his country from this yoke, but this has not happened. In fact, the deathly influence of Europe has arguably increased. 21st century. The U.S. needs to see Asia and Europe as separate but equal entities, without seeking to insert one into the other. The U.S. needs to rediscover its strengths rather than persist in acting as though it Europe is part of its eastern most shore.