Old Europe
Old Europe is a term that was first used by then-U.S. Secretary of Defense
United States Secretary of Defense
The Secretary of Defense is the head and chief executive officer of the Department of Defense of the United States of America. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in other countries...

 Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Henry Rumsfeld is an American politician and businessman. Rumsfeld served as the 13th Secretary of Defense from 1975 to 1977 under President Gerald Ford, and as the 21st Secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2006 under President George W. Bush. He is both the youngest and the oldest person to...

 in January 2003 to refer to European countries that did not support the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

, specifically France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. Since then, the term has been used by pundits and media personalities to describe various combinations of the first-world countries of Europe; comedian Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart is an American political satirist, writer, television host, actor, media critic and stand-up comedian...

, for example, has applied the term humorously to all Western European Old Powers, most notably Germany, France and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...



On January 22, 2003 Rumsfeld answered a question from Charles Groenhuijsen
Charles Groenhuijsen
Carolus Johannes Franciscus Groenhuijsen is a Dutch journalist.For a long time Groenhuijsen was a correspondent in the United States for the main public news program in the Netherlands, the NOS Journaal...

, a Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 journalist, about the potential US invasion:
The expression was interpreted as a dig against a "sclerotic" and old-fashioned Western Europe. It became a potent symbol, especially after division emerged over Iraq between France and Germany and some of the new Central and Southeastern European entrants and applicants to NATO and the European Union.

Further diplomatic tension built up when Rumsfeld pointed out in February 2003, that Germany, Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 and Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 were the only nations completely opposing a possible war in Iraq (a statement that was formally correct at the time). This was interpreted by many that he would put Germany on a common level with dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

s violating human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...


Later usage

The German translation altes Europa was the word of the year
Word of the year
The word of the year, sometimes capitalized as Word of the Year and abbreviated WOTY or WotY, refers to any of various assessments as to the most important word or expression in the public sphere during a specific year....

 for 2003 in Germany, because German politicians and commentators responded by often using it in a sarcastic
Sarcasm is “a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter jibe or taunt.” Though irony and understatement is usually the immediate context, most authorities distinguish sarcasm from irony; however, others argue that sarcasm may or often does involve irony or employs...

 way. It was frequently used with pride
Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two common meanings. With a negative connotation, pride refers to an inflated sense of one's personal status or accomplishments, often used synonymously with hubris...

 and a reference to a perceived position of greater moral integrity. The terms altes Europa and Old Europe have subsequently surfaced in European economic and political discourse. For example, in a January 2005 unveiling for the new Airbus A380
Airbus A380
The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner manufactured by the European corporation Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS. It is the largest passenger airliner in the world. Due to its size, many airports had to modify and improve facilities to accommodate it...

 aircraft, German chancellor Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

 said, "There is the tradition of good old Europe that has made this possible." A BBC News
BBC News
BBC News is the department of the British Broadcasting Corporation responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs. The department is the world's largest broadcast news organisation and generates about 120 hours of radio and television output each day, as well as online...

 article about the unveiling said Schröder "deliberately redefined the phrase previously used by... Rumsfeld."

Outside of Rumsfeld's usage of "Old Europe", the term New Europe
New Europe
New Europe is a rhetorical term used by conservative political analysts in the United States to describe European post-Communist era countries...

 (and neues Europa) also appeared, indicating either the European states that supported the war, the Central European states that had been newly accepted to the EU, or a new economically and technologically dynamic and liberal Europe, often including the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...


"Old Europe" has also been used to describe the problems of a largely ageing population in Europe and potentially unfundable pension
In general, a pension is an arrangement to provide people with an income when they are no longer earning a regular income from employment. Pensions should not be confused with severance pay; the former is paid in regular installments, while the latter is paid in one lump sum.The terms retirement...

 plans. However several Eastern European countries considered as New Europe tend to have an older population profile due to plunging birth rates, little immigration and the exodus of younger adults to work in Western Europe.

Rumsfeld made fun of his statement shortly before a 2005 diplomatic trip to Europe. "When I first mentioned I might be travelling in France and Germany it raised some eyebrows. One wag said it ought to be an interesting trip after all that has been said. I thought for a moment and then I replied: 'Oh, that was the old Rumsfeld.'"

The phrase continued to be used after Rumsfeld's tenure. In a March 2009 speech to the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

 said "There is no old Europe, no new Europe. There is only your friend Europe," which The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe is an American daily newspaper based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Globe has been owned by The New York Times Company since 1993...

 called "an oblique shot at" Rumsfeld. The next month, speaking in Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

, U.S. President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

, echoing Brown's words, said, "in my view, there is no old Europe or new Europe. There is only a United Europe."

Dominique de Villepin

When the UN Security Council discussed Iraq
The UN Security Council and the Iraq war
In March 2003 the United States government announced that "diplomacy has failed" and that it would proceed with a "coalition of the willing" to rid Iraq under Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction the US insisted it possessed...

 on February 14, 2003, the French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin
Dominique de Villepin
Dominique Marie François René Galouzeau de Villepin is a French politician who served as the Prime Minister of France from 31 May 2005 to 17 May 2007....

 ended his speech with the words: "This message comes to you today from an old country, France, from a continent like mine, Europe, that has known wars, occupation and barbarity. (…) Faithful to its values, it wishes resolutely to act with all the members of the international community. It believes in our ability to build together a better world."

The next diplomat to speak, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw
Jack Straw
Jack Straw , British politician.Jack Straw may also refer to:* Jack Straw , English* "Jack Straw" , 1971 song by the Grateful Dead* Jack Straw by W...

, remarked: "Mr. President, I speak on behalf of a very old country, founded in 1066 by the French."

Jon Stewart

In his satirical 2004 book America (The Book)
America (The Book)
America : A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction is a 2004 non-fiction book written by Jon Stewart and other writers of The Daily Show that parodies and satirizes American politics and worldview...

, Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart is an American political satirist, writer, television host, actor, media critic and stand-up comedian...

 describes Old Europe (United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland) as follows:

Antecedent uses

The Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

 starts with the words:
When Marx used the term in 1848, the year of failed liberal revolutions
Revolutions of 1848
The European Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations, Springtime of the Peoples or the Year of Revolution, were a series of political upheavals throughout Europe in 1848. It was the first Europe-wide collapse of traditional authority, but within a year reactionary...

 across Europe, he was referring to the restoration
Bourbon Restoration
The Bourbon Restoration is the name given to the period following the successive events of the French Revolution , the end of the First Republic , and then the forcible end of the First French Empire under Napoleon  – when a coalition of European powers restored by arms the monarchy to the...

 of Ancien régime dynasties, following the defeat of Napoleon. Of his three sets of pairs, each pair links figures who might on the surface be considered adversaries, in alliances that he clearly sees as unholy. An "Old Europe" must find a mental contrast with a posited "New Europe".

In his ultra-nationalistic, anti-European book of 1904, America Rules the World, E. David used 'Old Europe' in the following context:
The term has also sometimes been used in film criticism, usually referring to the Europe remembered by Hollywood exiles from the final years before revolutions and the overthrow of monarchies affected much of the continent, and recalled in the films of such directors as Ernst Lubitsch
Ernst Lubitsch
Ernst Lubitsch was a German-born film director. His urbane comedies of manners gave him the reputation of being Hollywood's most elegant and sophisticated director; as his prestige grew, his films were promoted as having "the Lubitsch touch."In 1947 he received an Honorary Academy Award for his...

 and Josef von Sternberg
Josef von Sternberg
Josef von Sternberg — born Jonas Sternberg — was an Austrian-American film director. He is particularly noted for his distinctive mise en scène, use of lighting and soft lens, and seven-film collaboration with actress Marlene Dietrich.-Youth:Von Sternberg was born Jonas Sternberg to a Jewish...


Old Europe is also used to describe the prehistoric culture and people found in Europe prior to the migration of Indo-European peoples in the Neolithic.

See also

  • Axis of weasels
    Axis of weasels
    The phrase axis of weasels is a derogatory term for certain European states that did not support the United States, the United Kingdom and their allies in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, specifically France, Germany and Belgium....

  • European Foreign Policy
    Common Foreign and Security Policy
    The Common Foreign and Security Policy is the organised, agreed foreign policy of the European Union for mainly security and defence diplomacy and actions. CFSP deals only with a specific part of the EU's external relations, which domains include mainly Trade and Commercial Policy and other areas...

  • Freedom fries
    Freedom fries
    Freedom fries is a political euphemism for French fries used by some people in the United States as a result of anti-French sentiment during the controversy over the U.S. decision to launch the 2003 invasion of Iraq. France expressed strong opposition in the United Nations to such an invasion...

  • New Europe
    New Europe
    New Europe is a rhetorical term used by conservative political analysts in the United States to describe European post-Communist era countries...

  • Old World
    Old World
    The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....

  • Transatlantic relations
    Transatlantic relations
    Transatlantic relations refers to the historic, cultural, political, economic and social relations between countries on both side of the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes specifically those between the United States, Canada and the countries in Europe, although other meanings are possible.There are a...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.