A reader writes:

You quoted Steve Clemons in criticizing Obama for not going to Brussels. Amongst other things he wrote:

"But Brussels is the capital of Europe. It is the promise of what Europe is struggling to become that makes Brussels a vital stopover point. Obama is visiting some of the key, strategic nodes that give Europe some of its legs -- but the trip looks like an "Old Europe" trip, not a new one."

As a native European I can only say - You've got to be fucking kidding me!?

Brussels is as much the "capital" of "Europe" as the UN building in New York is the capital of the world. Any visit to Brussels will be as politically meaningful to the European public as a visit to the UN in New York will be to the peoples of the world. Brussels is the home of some important European Union institutions, but as many voters, in many countries of Europe, have made perfectly clear many times, the European Union is looked upon with great scepticism by many Europeans.

Even those who support further economic and political integration. Brussels is widely seen as the heart of degenerated bureaucracy, far removed from the interest of the peoples of Europe, not as "the promise of what Europe is struggling to become". Get this Steve Clemons: Europe is a continent. Europe, the political entity, is comprised of individual nation states, spanning many different languages, religions and cultures, some of them with over thousand years of continuous political existence.

The European Union is a multilateral umbrella organisation perched on top of the nation states of Europe. But it doesn't make Europe a single political entity. While much integration between the members has been made in trade and economic issues, everything else is still a matter for the individual nation states. All important decisions are made in talks between the governments of Europe, not the European Parliament that is not worthy of the name. Look at where the real powers in Europe are, the power to tax and the monopoly on violence. It is safely tucked away in the nation states, in their own constitutions and own political institutions. Just where we like it to be!

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