by Wang Zichen
BRUSSELS, June 22 (Xinhua) -- With the European Union's (EU) retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods kicking in on Friday, the transatlantic relations have doubtlessly reached a new low in the post-Cold War history.
The slapping of 25-percent duties on 2.8 billion-euro iconic American products, ranging from peanut butter to bourbon whiskey, was a tit for tat against U.S. metal levies, and followed a string of disputes between Washington and its European allies.
Whether it concerns the Paris agreement on climate change or the Iranian nuclear deal, chasm between so-called ideological bedfellows is profound and not easy to do away.
Take it from an article on the New York Times and Die Zeit newspapers, written by a group of foreign policy experts, the transatlantic relationship is "no business as usual" and "there will not be a return to the supposed good old times."
Whereas older Europeans grew up benefiting from the Marshall Plan and regarded the United States as "a shining city on the hill", younger generations are witnessing a very different picture of America than their parents.
European countries have born the increasingly heavy burden of endless influx of refugees, incurred by U.S.-led military inventions in the Middle East, and seen the rise of populism which threatens to topple existing order of European politics.
Most bizarrely, the U.S. has taken its usual incitement of regime change in developing countries to Germany, the heart of Europe and culturally among the most pro-American of allies. Its ambassador to Berlin talked about - and later defended - his intention to "empower other conservatives throughout Europe", after seeing "a groundswell of conservative policies that are taking hold because of the failed policies of the left."
As undiplomatic as that might sound, it turned out that Richard Grenell probably just took cues from no other than U.S. President Donald Trump, who this week hailed on Twitter that "the people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition."
Eulogies for the transatlantic relationship might be premature. However, it would be naive to shrug off the on-going conflict as only one-man's job, since unilateralism, protectionist moods, and the call for "America First" have been popular with U.S. constituents, posing structural challenges to transatlantic - and the world - order.
For those who want to wait it out, there is plenty of time left for further escalation. So while buckling up for more storms ahead, Europe is advised to develop forceful joint economic, foreign and defense policies, instead of subjugation to illusions of the transatlantic fairytale. It has become more necessary than ever.