Wednesday, September 14, 2005

European Anti-Americanism Isn't New

Jonah Goldberg, writing in National Review Online:
Here's a gloomy thought for you: America is going to be lonely for a very long time. After reading the October issue of The American Enterprise, "Red America, Blue Europe," that's the only conclusion one can draw.

There is a grand myth that the world, particularly Europe, loved America before George W. Bush came into office. The reality is that it only dislikes us a bit more than it used to.
Clinton wasn't popular with most of them either. They hated Bush before they even knew him.
In the 1980s, anti-Americanism was also a big problem, but fortunately the elites of Europe generally understood — with some lamentable exceptions — it was better to have America as a friend than the Soviet Union as a ruler.

But now that the Cold War is over, European elites have been liberated from the need to play well with the United States. Elections in Germany and France have largely been won in recent years by running against America. The U.S. is the only superpower and European elites don't think anyone but them should be superpowers. The Chinese have a similar attitude, of course, and pretty much every foreign policy article and expert I can find says we're going to be playing Cold War-style games with China for the next 50 years.

In other words, we are facing at minimum two enormous problems that will far, far outlast the Bush presidency, and, unlike in the past, it's not entirely clear we can rely on our friends to stand with us. This is a broad generalization, which means that it's open to contradiction by a great many facts while still, I think, remaining true. We do have some real friends, most notably Britain, Japan and Australia.
I'm not sure how much they like us either. Especially Britain.

But check this out:
A third of Germans under 30 think America ordered the 9/11 attacks. The "theory" that the Pentagon attack was self-inflicted stagecraft is in wide circulation in France, and the subject of a best-selling book.
How does one explain this? Blind hatred? Ignorance?

The rest of the article is worth reading. Mr.
Goldberg recounts that assuming we can improve ties, the benefit will be meager - most of Europe's militaries are in worse shape than at any time in the last fifty years. Aside from Britain and possibly France, none could provide significant military aid in the event of a crisis. The American-held shield of NATO has allowed them to divert defense funds into ever-bolder social engineering.

It causes me to wonder, though. Americans aren't quite as stupid as their leaders and others would believe. We're aware we aren't too popular right now. So if push came to shove, would we help out Europe again? That depends on a lot of unknowns of course; much could change. But if a Cauldron or Red Storm Rising scenario were to occur now, would Americans care to help?

Ten years ago, I'd say yes, unquestionably. I'd still say yes now - but I'm not as sure as I once was.


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