London (CNSNews.com) - Europe is placing itself on a collision course with the United States, and Britain needs to decide whether it sees its future lying with its trans-Atlantic ally or with an increasingly anti-American superstate-in-the-making.
Thus argues John Redwood, a senior member of Britain's opposition Conservative Party, in a new book published Tuesday.
The launch of Stars and Strife: The coming conflicts between the USA and the European Union, comes as Foreign Secretary Robin Cook pays the first visit by a European country's foreign minister to Washington since the change of administration.
Redwood, who heads the Conservatives' parliamentary campaigns unit, said in a statement Tuesday that Cook was going to find a deep unease among U.S. administration officials about \plain\lang2057\f2\fs23\cf0 "the increasingly aggressive stance of the EU on a whole range of issues."
He said both Cook - and Prime Minister Tony Blair, who visits the White House later this month - will fly into flak on foreign policy, military and trade issues.
These include the EU plan for a military force apart from NATO, European suspicions about a proposed American national missile defense shield, an EU foreign policy that favors Russia over the U.S., and the EU's stance on trans-Atlantic trade and environmental disputes.
\plain\lang2057\f2\fs23\cf0 "The USA used to think more European integration was a good thing. Dialling one number for Europe would make their lives easier. Now the U.S. has discovered it just means a never-ending series of disagreeable phone calls, and a growing detachment of the EU from Anglo-Saxon democratic values."
Redwood warned that the EU was developing into a "new country called Europe" - anti-American, inward-looking, over-regulated, over-taxed, and 50 years out of date.
Britain should negotiate a new relationship with it, retaining trade links but opting out of an EU armed force, currency, a common foreign policy, and other policies leading to too great a level of integration, he argued.
This was the best of the options open to Britain, he said, the others being: becoming an enthusiastic and important part of the new Europe; pulling out of the EU completely; and trying to "muddle through" - as he said the Blair government was doing - by acting skeptical at home, but enthusiastic when abroad, and hoping no-one would notice.
While the EU became more deeply integrated, said Redwood, Britain could make more of its own, democratic decisions - broaden associations with other English-speaking countries, rely on NATO for defense, and become a member of NAFTA in addition to its membership of the European common market.
Using even more descriptive terms to describe developments on the Continent, Redwood said in an editorial in a London daily Tuesday that rather than become a force for good, the EU may become "a pain in the neck of the international community."
"Whatever America does, the EU will want to go one better, or do the opposite for the pleasure of it. The EU is already behaving like a wayward adolescent, throwing its weight around in a fit of teenage tantrums," he wrote.
"The continental leaders of the superstate-in-waiting believe that the European model is superior to the American. Some of them see America as some kind of anti-Christ, a monument to arrogance and capitalist excess."
Concerns about the U.S.-Europe and Anglo-American relationship have been raised in recent months by a number of prominent politicians, including Senate foreign relations committee chairman Jesse Helms, his colleague Gordon Smith, who chairs the European affairs sub-committee, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Both the British and U.S. governments have played down reports of a rift.
Blair has stressed that the UK's "special relationship" with Washington is not under threat, while State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday there was nothing new in - and no truth to - reports that the U.S. and Europe were drawing apart.
"These stories that the U.S. and Europe are parting have been a perennial favorite of commentators, probably on both sides of the Atlantic," he told reporters in Washington. "We seem to be in another period where people are writing that, and as for the last 50 years, we will probably get through it with the strong and positive relationship that we continue to have with Europe."
Pressed about differences over NMD and the European defense initiative, Boucher conceded that the U.S. and Europe were "not yet" in full agreement," then added: "But we have made considerable progress, we have had considerable discussions, and we'll continue to work with them.
"And as I said, in the long run, if you look back at the last 50 years of history, we always seem to work these things out and come together and work together."