Friday, July 23, 2004

Europe's Eternal Jew

Over at Spanish blog HispaLibertas, Manel writes on an interesting commentary by a former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Per Ahlmark. I found a copy of his commentary in English, which shows that not all Swedes are neutered Germans. Ahlmark writes on the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism (if you care to make that distinction) and the linkeage he sees with the also rising and rabid anti-Americanism. Steven den Beste wrote on this subject before, and I added some thoughts of my own here.

Ahlmark opines that the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism alike, is formed by "a kind of blindness, combined with a strange mixture of alienation, guilt, and fear toward both Israel and America":

Millions of Europeans resist seeing Israel as a country fighting for its survival. Israel cannot afford to lose one major war, as it would mean the end of the Jewish democratic state. But huge numbers of Europeans believe that something is fundamentally wrong with the Israelis: they never compromise; they prefer using military means to solve political problems.

Something similar is at work in the European attitude to the US. Look at Europe, many Europeans say, we have eradicated wars, dangerous nationalism, and dictatorships. We created a peaceful European Union. We do not wage war; we negotiate. We do not exhaust our resources on weapons. The rest of the planet should learn from us how to live together without terrorizing each other.
It is sadly true. It is frustrating discussing with an average European on the matter, and moreso if you hold up the theory that their lack of experience or remembrance (for Eastern Europeans luckily, this is far less the case) to ever having to fight for their freedom and democracies, makes them out of touch with the realities of this world. Inevitably it gets greeted by looks of utter disbelief, leaving you inmediately discarded as a war-loving right-wing nut. Ahlmark addresses this sentiment as follows, and explains how it is fictional:
As a Swede, I have heard such pacific boasting all my life: that neutral Sweden is a moral superpower. Now this bragging has become the EU's ideology. We are the moral continent. Call this the "Swedenization" of Europe.

Yes, today's EU is a miracle for a continent where two modern totalitarian movements - Communism and Nazism - unleashed rivers of blood. But what Europe forgets is how those ideologies were overcome. Without the US Army, Western Europe would not have been liberated in 1945. Without the Marshall Plan and NATO, it would not have taken off economically. Without the policy of containment under America's security umbrella, the Red Army would have strangled the dream of freedom in Eastern Europe, or brought European unity, but under a flag with red stars.
To deal with the threat of terrorism, and other world events where freedom is pitted against totalitarianism, Europeans have constructed their own world, Ahlmark notes.
Instead of supporting those who fight international terrorism, many Europeans try to blame the spread of terrorism on Israel and the US. This is a new European illusion. Spain's latter day appeasement à la Munich arises from this thinking.
It explains why Europe seeks to align its policies with this illusion, more and more openly calling for the 'War on Terror' to be seen as a judicial affair, with more attention to root causes. The same is happening in Spain as official government policy, just recently.

To explain the roots of all this, Ahlmark turns to British writer Ian Buruma, who claims that Europe's anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism stem from guilt and fear, leading to 'fat guts' at home and pacifism abroad. He sees the visible merger of the two in the term 'neocon', something I absolutely subscribe to and I resent the term fully because of it.
The two world wars led to such catastrophic carnage that "never again" was interpreted as "welfare at home, non-intervention abroad." The problem with this concept is that it could only survive under the protection of American might.

Extreme anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism are actually merging. The so-called peace poster "Hitler Had Two Sons: Bush and Sharon," displayed in European anti-war rallies, combines trivialization of Nazism with demonization of both the victims of Nazism and those who defeated Nazism.

Much of this grows from a subconscious European guilt related to the Holocaust. Now the Holocaust's victims - and their children and grandchildren - are supposedly doing to others what was done to them. By equating the murderer and the victim, we wash our hands.

This pattern of anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism returns again and again. "The ugly Israeli" and "the ugly American" seem to be of the same family. "The ugly Jew" becomes the instrumental part of this defamation when so-called neoconservatives are blamed both for American militarism and Israeli brutalities and then selectively named: Wolfowitz, Perle, Abrams, Kristol, etc. This is a new version of the old myth that Jews rule the US.
Europe needs to stop and take a close look at where it is heading. It needs to revisit the idea that 'History is over', and the concept of 'Just War'. It needs to accept its history, and understand that its reaction to it has been flawed, setting Europeans up to repeat it, rather than avoid making the same mistakes ever again.

As for the US' part, they need to get tough with Europe. I guess that's why I'm in favor of replacing NATO with new, purpose-oriented alliances with separate European nations. Like a parent that after fifty years decides it's time for Junior to move out of the basement and get a life of his own, The US need to push Europe out into the real world. Junior won't move out by himself.

Winds Of Change
just now posted on the same subject, which makes for a good accompanying read.