Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The Last Days Of Brussels

A brilliant piece by Dutch writer Leon de Winter in The Weekly Standard, who writes about Europe's self-congratulatory pose when it comes to its so-called Soft Power, its (perceived) ability to project power through persuasion, dialogue and compromise. Its roots of this aversion of using force, lie with the Holocaust, after which something snapped inside the collective mind of Europeans.

Post-historical and post-religious Europe, born in the shadow of the Holocaust, does not see sacrifice as legitimate. Of course, considering that Europe has nurtured some of the world's cruelest ideologies, the dread of scenarios that might require sacrifice is hardly surprising. The problem is that much of the world, especially the Arab Islamic parts of it, is simply not interested in the moral and ethical implications of Europe's bloody past.

Since Auschwitz--the benchmark of ideological and political developments in Europe--the miracle of European prosperity and freedom has not led to the conviction that this prosperity and freedom must be defended, if necessary by force; on the contrary, the miracle has given birth to an attitude of cultural relativism and pacifism. It is as if modern Europe had divested itself of its idealistic and historical context, as if many Europeans saw the miracle of a prosperous and free Europe as an ahistorical, natural, and permanent state of affairs--as if Auschwitz had been wiped from their memory.

But anyone who is ignorant of, or ignores, the fact that tens of millions of Europeans died in the twentieth century in the struggle between good and evil--and it seems most Europeans have simply forgotten this--will fail to appreciate that the continued existence of Europe's system of liberal moral and ethical values is the result of conscious choices by courageous Europeans (and many others).
But De Winter fears it may not be so much amnesia that has since struck the European mind, but a complete disconnect with its past. Of wars as an abstract concept, always wrong, whatever the stakes, whatever the alternatives.
Most Europeans no longer regard Auschwitz as the disastrous result of evil ideas and the evil decisions of human beings. Instead, they see it as the consequence of something more like a natural disaster.

Perfectly expressing this concept of war were the huge demonstrations in Europe against the war in Iraq. In these rituals, the term "war" was taken out of its historical, political, and cultural context, and no justification for fighting was deemed acceptable. The high priest of this antihistorical creed is Michael Moore, who, 59 years after the end of the Second World War, in a discussion with TV talk show host Bill O'Reilly, would not state categorically that only a devastating war could have saved Europe from something far worse, namely Nazism. By these lights, war is bad whatever the historical or political circumstances.
This, he explains, resulted in European paralyzation when the Former Yugoslavia imploded, and the hated United States was needed once again to bring peace. He holds a bleak view for the future of Europe, for which he uses the example of the Iranian nuclear bomb. Having congratulated itself (the article opens with references to press articles on the 'agreement' reached by EU foreign ministers with the mullahs in October 2003, avoiding in their minds a nuclear crisis proving the superiority of the EU's Soft Power approach) on its diplomatic 'successes' with Tehran, and meanwhile painting the US as the real enemy:
It is remarkable that current developments in Iran do not dominate our headlines. The media are obsessed by Abu Ghraib, by those "liars" Sharon and Bush, by Halliburton and the neocons. And their obsession extends to conspiracy theories, although they fail to realize that something must be wrong when a radical pacifist like Michael Moore can receive the best film award at Cannes from Quentin Tarantino, a man who has done more than anyone to glamorize violence. In the meantime, a terrifying danger looms on the horizon, set to transform the geopolitical map of the Middle East within two years and so the map of the entire world: the Iranian nuclear bomb.

The mullahs are quite frank about why they want nuclear weapons. On December 14, 2001, the de facto dictator of Iran, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, spelled out his dream in a sermon at Tehran University. "If one day the world of Islam comes to possess the [nuclear] weapons currently in Israel's possession," Rafsanjani said, "on that day this method of global arrogance would come to a dead end." This, he said, is because the use of a nuclear bomb on Israel would entirely demolish the Jewish state, whereas it would only damage the Islamic world. Iran's leaders have made dozens of similar statements.

Last week Israel's senior commentator Zeev Schiff wrote in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: "There is an impression that Iran has no fears of any United Nations Security Council action. If its audacity succeeds, Iran will gain another period of unhindered nuclear development. Even though the Iranians have been caught out in the lies they have been weaving for 18 years, it is possible the ayatollahs' regime in Tehran believes that time is on their side."

What happened in Tehran on October 21, 2003, was not proof of the viability of soft power, but the opposite--proof of its impotence. The Guardian and the rest of the European media were fooling themselves and us, blinded by their hatred of Bush's hard power. "Washington sought to persuade Western allies to take a tougher line on Iran," Haaretz wrote last week, concluding dryly, "But Britain, Germany, and France say they prefer to try and persuade Tehran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency." They never learn.
Of course, as we read today, Iran is doing exactly that, converting 37 tons of "yellowcake" uranium into uranium hexafluoride (UF6), which only purpose is for atomic warheads.

It put me in a somber mood, because it puts yet more importance on the US Presidential elections this November. And a Kerry win will surely see the Iranian Bomb Looming over Europe and the World. In all, the article paints a civilization during its last days. It may be fifty years, it may be another hundred. But if Europe insists on staying its decadent course, paying more and more Dane-geld along the way, it is doomed to disappear.

It is up to the United States, and only the United States, to push them, like (oh irony!) a stern father, back from the brink. A good place to start would be a complete pullout of US troops, and let them realize they have no defense. Offer them the protection of an anti-missile shield, but let them pay in full. Leave the United Nations, and let them realize they are surrounded by thugs.