Friday, October 15, 2004

Damned Yankees 

This really reads like a story from the "Onion":

"Jennifer Locke, a bright-eyed blonde New Yorker, drags on her cigarette and nods to pals at the American University of Paris. She'd be just one of the gang but for a deep, dirty secret. At 21, living among the fractious French who mostly revile President Bush, Jennifer Locke votes Republican.

" 'I'm always the one on the other side,' she lamented with a bitter laugh, recounting the insults and near violence she draws out when she champions Bush. 'There are 800 students in this school, and I think I'm the only one who admits to being Republican,' Locke said. That is likely an exaggeration, she acknowledges. But, she adds, it's close enough."
Who will stand up for Europe's newest persecuted minority?

You can also read
this long screed about how the European populus doesn't dig America and/or Bush anymore.

"America is different now... It rules by force, not by the weight of respect. There's a sense of 'do what I say and not what I do.' It was always so open. Now it seems to us totalitarian," says a French hairdresser, showing total lack of understanding of what totalitarianism is (France, of course, had the good fortune to avoid the Soviet variety, and the Nazi occupation was the lightest in Europe. A piece of trivia for you: the first German soldier to be killed by the Resistance did not die until fourteen months into the occupation).

"Americans are fed propaganda, and they say it's democracy," says British film-maker based in Paris, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the American media market if far more diverse than the European one.

"Torgeir Knag Fylkesnes, 29, on leave from Norway's Socialist Left party to run his 'tellhim.no' Web site, posted a letter to Bush, saying Norwegians respect America's 'strength, generosity and creativity.' But, he added, four out of five Norwegians oppose the war because Bush's policy 'only fosters resistance'," forgetting that resistance is what happens during conflict.

(if you like some more solid, poll-based research, as opposed to anecdotal evidence, you can check out
this story.)

What all of this comes down to is that Europe still doesn't seem to realise that there is a war going on and that the United States is currently waging it on their behalf, too. Europe has a long and proud history of deluding itself about own security, up until 1914 that a major war between continental powers was no longer possible, then after 1918 that World War One was really "the war to end all wars", and during the 1930s that appeasement would work against Hitler. In all these cases Europe chose naivete and wishful thinking over realism, and in each case ended up badly disappointed.

It was only during the Cold War that most of the Western Europe, for most of the time, was scared enough of the Soviets to allow a dose of common sense to creep into the European affairs (those of us with longer memories, however, will be wary of trying to see that era as a golden age of steadfast trans-Atlantic unity - the truth was much more complicated than that, whether you recall France pulling out of NATO in the 1960s, or the huge controversies over the placement of American tactical nuclear missiles in the 1980s). Even then, though, one gets the impression that the whole nostalgia about the "old America", the gentle giant that listened to the allies and respected everyone's views, boils down to the fact Europe came to be too used to and too comfortable with the United States that generously provided Western Europe with a no-questions-asked security umbrella.

European anti-Americanism is sadly nothing new, certainly not a post-S11 and post-Iraq development, as
John Rosenthal reminds us in today's "Opinion Journal" (if you're a regular reader of this blog, you would have been introduced to John's work some time ago). It has always been all too pervasive among large sections of European elites, but certainly seemed to have spread more widely among the general population.

The problem is that for America, the 1990s ended on September 11, 2001 - something I
wrote about before. The problem also is that for Europe the 1990s still haven't ended. The whole continent is blissfully and peacefully living in a post-modern, post-Cold War utopia, where war is once again unthinkable, the peace dividend never runs out, and the rest of the world (with exception of the Americans) is as enlightened and friendly as the Europeans like to think they are.

Al Qaeda, alas, doesn't share that fantasy, and it's only a question of time before Europe is made the realise it the hard way. When that happens, expect a lot of denial - it won't be the Islamofascists' fault; it's America that will be blamed for provoking them in the first place. But the reality will eventually set in. And the miracle of it all will be the fact that the United States will once again be ready and willing for the thankless task of saving Europe's ass.

(hat tip: readers Steve and Tanker Schreiber)


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