Europe is now irrelevant

The National Review (www.nationalreview.com) has a good article that shows how the US and Europe disagree on many issues and how Europeans are now irrelevant.

The gulf in understanding between America and its European friends seems to be widening and not entirely a matter of governmental squabbling. Despite the age of globalization and a world economy, and our similar goals of eradicating the terrorists, there are real differences in the perceptions of the current war that do not bode well for the future. [...]

A fourth paradox is the changed American attitude toward Europe after September 11. Before that milestone, Europeans were at least smug that their disdain affected us. Once upon a time — especially in the Clinton administration — we patiently listened to moral lectures, apologized constantly, and tried all sorts of ways to explain our baffling behavior to our moral betters. Europeans felt their ace in the hole was that we really did want to be liked by them and earn their moral approval.

No longer. They fear now that September 11 was a macabre liberating experience for Americans, and realize that we don't much care about European carping when our greatest buildings and best citizens are vaporized. Yet, when you tell a European precisely that — and as politely as possible — he is either shocked or genuinely hurt.

Iraq? Stay put — we don't necessarily need or desire your help. The Middle East? Shame on you, not us, for financing the terrorists on the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority and Israel? You helped to fund a terrorist clique; we, a democracy — go figure. Racism? Arabs are safer in America than Jews are in Europe. That 200,000 were butchered in Bosnia and Kosovo a few hours from Rome and Berlin is a stain on you, the inactive, not us, the interventionist. Capital punishment? Our government has executed terrorists; yours have freed them. Do the moral calculus. Insensitive to the complexities of the Middle East? Insist that the next Olympic games are held in Cairo or Teheran, and let a deserving Islamic Turkey into the EU.

I copy the full article below.





European Paradoxes, the war that divides us
By Victor Davis Hanson, July 29, 2002
http://www.nationalreview.com/
hanson/hanson072902.asp

The gulf in understanding between America and its European friends seems to be widening and not entirely a matter of governmental squabbling. Despite the age of globalization and a world economy, and our similar goals of eradicating the terrorists, there are real differences in the perceptions of the current war that do not bode well for the future.

After spending the last two weeks abroad talking to a number of Europeans, I sensed that the constant criticism of the United States that we read in European newspapers and magazines are not reflections of an out-of-touch elite, but the general pulse of a complex anti-Americanism that is widely shared among much of Europe's citizenry. At the heart of the misunderstandings are a number of paradoxes in our relationship, wounds whose thin scabs the events of September 11 have ripped open.

RIGHT AS LEFT
Most Europeans voice criticism of America ostensibly from the left. We are allegedly a bully who rashly uses military force in lieu of dialogue, snubbing international agreements on everything from the environment to world jurisdiction over our military's improprieties. Our culture is cutthroat and greedy, as the recent Enron and WorldCom scandals attest. We support right-winged governments such as Israel's and are often in opposition to the aspirations of third-world oppressed peoples, to the authority of the United Nations, and indeed to the growth and power of international organizations.

Yet when these criticisms are probed, a startling revelation appears: Far from being radicals, Europeans are, in fact, in a fundamental sense more reactionary than Americans. And here things get interesting. In conversations, the Europeans very soon begin to voice all the old right-wing complaints about America that explain why they see our country as so insular, crass, and dangerous: We have no respect for tradition; our movies and television are uncouth; our volatile citizenry is increasingly ignorant, multicultural, and lawless, and so blinkered to the concerns of others. Welcome to radical democratic culture.

So the Europeans have not a clue that we are powerful and influential precisely because, unlike themselves, we truly are a radically revolutionary society — the only one in history in which the hard-working and perennially exhausted lower and middle classes are empowered economically and have fully taken control of the popular culture to create strange institutions from Sunday cookouts and do-it-yourself home improvement to tasteless appurtenances such as Winnebagos, jet skis, and Play Station IIs.

The Europeans profess that they resent us because of a sinister military-industrial complex that has a stranglehold on American foreign policy, has replaced idealism with Realpolitik, and has illegitimately and selfishly tried to abet exploitative corporations abroad. But upon examination, they freely admit that our idea that money, not education, breeding, and culture, determines success, bothers them. This unease is coupled with the new awareness that Americans — Mexicans, Hindus, Mormons, Vietnamese, blacks, Pentecostals, poor whites, or Puerto Ricans — have no identifiable race, religion, or common bond other than a purportedly shared allegiance to values and ideas.

This new notion of a future United States — with a minority of Euro-Americans and religions other than mainstream Protestantism and Catholicism — unleashed upon the world is a frightening idea to those of largely homogeneous racial stock, itself struggling badly with nascent immigration from impoverished societies. Europeans are as vocal as leftist critics of America as they are silently embarrassed over their rightist disdain for what we have become.

SECRET DELIGHT
The second paradox about the use of American power stems from Europeans' defensiveness about their lack of military preparedness. When asked what they would do should the Eiffel Tower or the Vatican be targets, they grow perplexed and defensive. They seem resigned to the fact that they lack the air and sea forces requisite to conduct extended military operations in the Middle East or, in fact, preemptively anywhere outside of Europe. Oddly, many instead seem confident that their own professed liberality (in contrast to the world's general antipathy to America) will ensure them exemption from illogical hatred.

As one European professional told me, "Paris was there well before American GIs — and it will be there long after them" — a debatable point given the events of 1914-1918 and 1940-1944. But after the first few minutes of conversation, another admission creeps out. In truth, most Europeans seem privately to look forward to unilateral American action against Iraq. There is a strange sense that they are fed up with the extremist regimes of the Middle East, tired of the secret subsidies from the Arab world to criminals, and deathly afraid of terrorism. While they surely would not be so silly as to lose treasure and youth on such a foolhardy expedition ("A Sicilian Expedition" one professor scoffed of our proposed Iraqi war), and while they will be the first to criticize us should we stumble, there is nevertheless a general feeling that the temperamental, half-crazed Americans are now going to be unleashed to settle accounts for the Western world in general.

Of course, in their view, we are fighting the war against terror crudely, and must be continually monitored and audited by more subtle minds that can guide us through the labyrinth of world politics. Somewhere in all our efforts they suspect also that there must be some unstated and sinister American goal. Still, in the last analysis, there is a certain satisfaction among Europeans that al-Qaeda and Iraq have perhaps bitten off more than they can chew and will earn a reckoning long overdue.

HATING WHAT YOU WANT
I heard in conversations often that we are the global menace. "Ask yourself why you are hated" was repeated ad nauseam. Occasionally something like the following was voiced: "The entire world cannot be wrong in not liking you." Often comparisons were made to the empires of the USSR and ancient Rome to suggest our hyperpower status is similarly exploitative and thus eventually also will fall. Any memory that America once fought far from home to protect the democratic soil of Europe again Prussian militarism, German and Italian fascism, and Soviet totalitarianism has been long erased.

But oddly many Europeans love to visit the U.S., have relatives here, or were educated at an American university. Some of the most adamant socialist critics of America are former residents of the United States who taught in (and often are pensioned from) American colleges and universities.

Part envy, part adolescent resentment toward a supportive but interfering parent, part simple confusion — the Europeans seem to think they are the brain to our brawn, fascinated with our wealth and power, but saddened that such splendid assets could not be directed in a more focused and supplicated manner to do the world real good. Just as they were confused about the ultimate source of our economic and military strength, so they have even less insight about the morality of removing murderers like Noriega, the thugs in Grenada, Milosevic, Arafat, and Saddam Hussein. In contrast to Americans, they seem to care more about the procedure than the ultimate result of using force.

So there is a real gut fear that there is something dangerous about us Americans. We are like some frightening virus that bores into the system and takes control of the internal mechanisms, thereby ensuring the zombie its slow destruction. Whether it's the baffling addiction of their youth to violent American videogames or their own preference for Spiderman over French films, Europeans have to watch themselves around us lest they lose their carefully developed and maintained hierarchies.

Americans are the new Sirens whose seductive appeal to the appetites might lure even the most resolute Odysseus onto the shoals of self-indulgence and moral corruption. Most Europeans seem to attribute problems with their own children's disobedience, laxity, and listlessness to the poison of American popular culture (what they euphemistically call "globalization") — odd given that Americans, in fact, are not pampered, but work about a month per year longer than Europeans and often expect their kids as adults to work their own way through college or join the military.

ON BEING LIKED
A fourth paradox is the changed American attitude toward Europe after September 11. Before that milestone, Europeans were at least smug that their disdain affected us. Once upon a time — especially in the Clinton administration — we patiently listened to moral lectures, apologized constantly, and tried all sorts of ways to explain our baffling behavior to our moral betters. Europeans felt their ace in the hole was that we really did want to be liked by them and earn their moral approval.

No longer. They fear now that September 11 was a macabre liberating experience for Americans, and realize that we don't much care about European carping when our greatest buildings and best citizens are vaporized. Yet, when you tell a European precisely that — and as politely as possible — he is either shocked or genuinely hurt.

Iraq? Stay put — we don't necessarily need or desire your help. The Middle East? Shame on you, not us, for financing the terrorists on the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority and Israel? You helped to fund a terrorist clique; we, a democracy — go figure. Racism? Arabs are safer in America than Jews are in Europe. That 200,000 were butchered in Bosnia and Kosovo a few hours from Rome and Berlin is a stain on you, the inactive, not us, the interventionist. Capital punishment? Our government has executed terrorists; yours have freed them. Do the moral calculus. Insensitive to the complexities of the Middle East? Insist that the next Olympic games are held in Cairo or Teheran, and let a deserving Islamic Turkey into the EU.

WHAT’S NEXT?
Scholars attribute these tensions to the growth of inordinate American military power in the aftermath of the Cold War and the 20-year boom of the American economy. Yet, while it would be foolhardy to join Europe in its utopian, statist, authoritarian, and ultimately dangerous enterprises, we should not ignore their views either. They really do admire us when we act morally. For all their aspersions, they know the Taliban is evil and Mr. Karzai far better. They accept that our bombs, not their greater number of peacekeepers, saved lives and drove Mr. Milosevic out. If we seek to stay on and create a legitimate government in Iraq, they will quietly be pleased when it is all over. And they also acknowledge — albeit privately — that America has some cause to suspect U.N. actions when authoritarian governments like China are on the Security Council, and lunatic and criminal thugocracies like Libya, Syria, and Zimbabwe vote in the General Assembly on an equal basis with democratic states.

If we can ignore all the grating ankle biting and hypocrisy, the Europeans must remain our friends because they do see within us a shared moral heritage, and so admire American idealism when it is coupled with real power. In these dark days ahead, it is in our own interest that our efforts against Middle Eastern autocrats always be couched in the language of genuine concern for their captive peoples. Liberation, not aggression, must be our motto. Europe won't like publicly what we do, but privately they will agree that we did what we had to do.

Posted by David Melle
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Comments

Were I a citizen of America or Israel, where I could fully participate in moral, political and religious debates fairly without repercussion, I think, I might ingnite a peaceful coexistence not only between Israel and Palestine but also in the world as a whole distinct intellectual and political hyprocrisy.

I am a born African Moslem, who came here in September 1968 to study traditional philosophy.Since death awaits no man, and he carries with him nothing other than his bad or good deeds that justifies eternal life, at age sixty, I have devoted myself to telling the truth than lying. Hence saving and nourishing lives is better than torturing one another selfishly.

Since positing the facts often offend the elite, or authorities somehow, am I in the eye of the First Amendment expressing my opinion without offending the authorities while holding a bare resident visa?

Nonetheless, we must, I think, by all means shoulder collective responsibility and political homogeinity, in the absense of favoritism, nepotism or intellectual hypocrisy to better our lives in this fraghile world whether or not we believe in God.

I hold no religious preference other than the fact that I was born a Moslem.

Sincerely,

Tejanism.

Posted by: Tejan Tarawaly forTejanism at January 12, 2003 06:44 PM


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