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June 18, 2004

Victor Hanson reads my mind...

...and expresses it better than I do. Though, to be fair, he's the paid thinker, so I'm probably reading his. Wait! I am - as expressed in today's NRO article.

Some snippets:

All this spin hides the real problem, which has nothing to do with Bush. The ethicists of Europe don't want to see success in Iraq, since it might be interpreted as a moral refutation of their own opposition to Saddam's removal. So let us in turn stop begging old Europe, NATO, and the EU to participate in the rebuilding or policing of the country. To join or help, in the collective European mind, would be to suggest that an emerging democracy far away was worth our own sacrifice to rid the world of Saddam Hussein. Liberating Iraq, shutting down Baathist terror, and establishing consensual rule, after all, was a dangerous — and mostly Anglo-American — idea, antithetical to all the Europeans have become.
It was moving to commemorate the Normandy invasion on its 60th anniversary, but politely left unsaid amid the French-hosted celebrations was the real story of 1944 and 1945. We owe it to the dead, not just the living, to remember it with some integrity and honesty. Most of the Nazis' own European subjects did little to stop their mass murdering. There was no popular civilian uprising inside Germany or out. Most Germans were hostile to the onslaught of American armies in their country, preferring Hitler and the Nazis even by 1945 to so-called American liberators. When they did slur the Fuhrer it was because he brought them ruin, not the blood of millions on their hands. When they did stop fighting the Americans, it was because the thought of surrendering to the Russians was far worse.

Of course, in their defense, it's almost always a small group of people who mobilize the larger - as in our Civil War, for that matter, the Revolution, as well. The difference now seems to be - they have no small groups of people willing or able to mobilize... except on the wrong side.

But with European war, massive American aid, and Communism no longer present realities, the Atlantic world reverted to its natural tensions. Along with the Berlin wall, our NATO-inspired alliances also had a great fall. Well before George W. Bush assumed office, America and the Europeans split over differing ideas about liberty, free markets, class, race, and religion. And these shards are not going to be simply glued back into their proper places to reconstitute the fragile trans-Atlantic whole. As Europe addresses its demographic time bomb — with ever-increasing entitlements, less and less defense spending, and ever greater schizophrenia as it vacillates between paranoid repression and dangerous laxity — its angst about the freewheeling and upbeat United States will only grow.

I lived among the French and Germans for over 14 years. Hanson speaks truth here. While we share a common heritage and several core values, there are fundamental differences between us - greatest being the perception of the power and role of the state. Which isn't surprising, since most of the people coming to this country were fleeing the European paradigm for a better life elsewhere. And I suspect, should you look deep, it's the native-born scions of privelege in this country who look most approvingly upon Old Europe (in other words, becoming that which their forbears fled in the first place), while much of our immigrant population, to include the western hemisphere hispanics, do not. Not that we don't need to knock a little "el jefe'ism" out of their cultural basket, so they too can avoid the trap most of their former national governments are in.

We seek not to punish Europe by our departure, but to save it from itself. The problem is not just that our troops are doing nothing in places like Germany, or merely that they are more needed elsewhere — they do real damage by their presence in enabling an increasingly strident and opportunistic pacifism and an anti-Americanism fueled by dependency and ignited by resentment.

A little 'tough-love' is in order. Of course, that too, is fraught with a different kind of danger...

I fear that we should expect over the next 50 years some pretty scary things coming out of Europe as its impossible postmodern utopian dreams turn undemocratic and then ugly — once its statism and entitlement economy falter; Jews leave as Arabs stream in; its shaky German-French axis unravels; its next vision of an EU mare nostrum encompassing North Africa and Turkey begins to terrify Old Europe; and its pacifism brings it real humiliation from the likes of an Iran or China. Indeed, despite Europe's noble efforts to incorporate the former Warsaw Pact, we are already seeing such tensions in the most recent EU elections.

We all like the Europeans and wish them well in their efforts to create heaven on earth. But in the end I still think we Americans are on the right side of history in Iraq — while they are on no side at all.

I like most europeans I've met - until we get to politics and the role of the state. Then, oddly enough, I have more in common with the Eastern Euros I've met, and (still) many Brits.

They were our parents, and we in a sense owe them a debt of gratitude - but we've also been paying for their time in the rest home, too. It may be time for a little cost-shifting back across the waters.

The whole piece is here. You owe it to yourself (and Hanson) to at least skim the whole thing and make sure I didn't mangle him!