Though it won't be widely noted in Berlin this weekend, the Union would not exist without the U.S., which gave its strong backing from day one. The Marshall Plan assisted the Continent's postwar economic recovery, and an American military umbrella has since kept it safe. Whatever the trade or foreign policy disagreements, Washington hasn't wavered in its support for a stable, rich Europe.
This success has sometimes gone to European heads. Some in Brussels truly believe they have created a soft-power utopia that can talk its way out of any trouble, such as a nuclear Iran or Islamic terrorism. In reality, its peace has always depended on the will to spend blood and treasure, often American. Others, especially the French, imagine Europe as a check on the U.S. "hyperpower." Both delusions have helped keep the EU a small fry in foreign affairs. To become a more mature player, Europeans will have to pull their weight in the likes of NATO.