Nothing Left, to Say...

Where We Shed Light on the Right, We respect governance by the 2C's, Common Sense and the Constitution, where we never have anything say...We are also the home of the (almost) weekly Rant and Recipe...

Thursday, August 19, 2004

For those of you who don't know of Mark Steyn, today you are going to get a most pleasant introduction. Since the President on Monday announced a worldwide realignment of our armed forces I have been contemplating a missive on that topic. For too long, Europe and much of Asia has reaped the peace dividend of suckling at America's defense umbrella teat. No more. It's long past due that the industrialized, Westernized World contribute to military efforts beneficial to all. Whether it be the War on Terror or pacifying and quelling regional unrest in Africa or Asia, more nations need to begin to bear the burden. This is what has so galled me about the french, their preening and self indulgent foreign policy recalling past glories and ignoring their own political reality and peril. Instead, combating US policies and actions knowing full well that they can reap the bonhomie of oppressed dictators, negotiate crooked business deals to their favor and never once commit a single frenchman with a rifle to fight for freedom.

Well instead of my own celebration of this long overdue troop movement, I give you instead the words of Mark Steyn, a favorite columnist of mine. He's a Briton, a Euro who actually understands what is going on in the world. Thanks to reader Dan Lynch who provided the link. So without further a do and with apologies to Mr. Steyn for the venue, here is his latest column....

'We won't come back till it's over/Over There!' sang America's doughboys,marching off to war in 1917. In the Second World War, they had other songs to sing, which is just as well because, even though the World War was over over there 60 years ago, and the Cold War was over 15 years ago, only now are the Yanks heading home.In the largest military realignment in years, Washington plans to withdraw 70,000 troops plus 100,000 family members and support personnel from overseas US bases. That means, for the most part, from Europe. This will undoubtedly be welcome news to the likes of Goran Persson, the Swedish prime minister, who famously declared that the purpose of the European Union is that "it's one of the few institutions we can develop as a balance to US world domination". It must surely be awfully embarrassing to be the first superpower in history to be permanently garrisoned by your principal rival superpower. But it's also grand news for those of us who've long argued that America's six-decade security guarantee to Europe has been a massive strategic error.

The basic flaw in the Atlantic "alliance" is that, for almost all its participants, the free world is a free lunch: a defence pact of wealthy nations in which only one guy picks up the tab. I said as much in a Canadian column I wrote on 9/11, and a few weeks later the dominion's deputy prime minister, John Manley, conceded that his country was dining in the best restaurants without paying its way: as he put it, "You can't just sit at the G8 table and then, when the bill comes, go to the washroom." But in NATO, for generations, whenever the bill's come, there's been a stampede to the washroom, not just from the Canadians but the Continentals, too. Like any other form of welfare, defence welfare is a hard habit to break and profoundly damaging to the recipient. The peculiarly obnoxious character of modern Europe is a logical consequence of Washington's willingness to absolve it of responsibility for its own security. Our Defence Editor, John Keegan, once wrote that "without armed forces a state does not exist". That's true in a certain sense. But, in another, for wealthy nations who've found a sugar daddy, it's marvellously liberating. You're able to preen and pose on the world stage secure in the knowledge that nobody expects you to do anything about it.

Bret Stephens, the editor of the Jerusalem Post, opened his mail the other day and found a copy of something called"Conclusions of the European Council", a summary of the work done during the six months of the Irish Euro-presidency. He made the mistake of reading it. Here's item 80: "The European Council expresses its deep concern at the recent events in the Eastern Congo, which could jeopardise the transition process." Been following that one? Europe is free to flaunt its "concern" ­ and even its "deep concern" ­ over the Eastern Congo precisely because it's entirely irrelevant to events in the Eastern Congo. As Stephens points out, European countries now have attitudes in inverse proportion to the likelihood of their acting upon them. They're like my hippy-dippy Vermont neighbours who drive around with "Free Tibet" bumper stickers. Every couple of years, they trade in the Volvo for a Subaru, and painstakingly paste a new "Free Tibet"sticker on the back. What are they doing to free Tibet? Nothing. Tibet is as unfree now as it was when they started advertising their commitment to a free Tibet. And it will be just as unfree when they buy their next car and slap on the old sticker one mo' time. If Don Rumsfeld were to say, 'Free Tibet'? That's a great idea!The Third Infantry Division go in on Thursday', all the 'Free Tibet' crowd would be driving around with 'War is not the answer' stickers. When entire nations embrace self-congratulatory holier-than-thou moral poseurdom as a way of life, it's even less attractive. The Belgians weren't half as insufferable when they were the German army's preferred shortcut to France.

For the purposes of the preceding racist generalisation, I should explain that I'm semi-Belgian, but I'm happy to apply the same point to many countries with which I lack consanguinity. At Friday's Olympics ceremony, for example, I noticed the team from liberated Afghanistan drew far more enthusiastic cheers from the Athens crowd than the team of the country that actually liberated them. Fair enough. But what then is the practical value of their professed support for the Afghans? At the time of the Afghan liberation, a poll found only 5.2 percent of Greeks supported the war. A wealthy continent liberated from the burdens of military expenditure is also liberated to a large degree from reality. Poor peoples have no choice but to live in the real world: if a drought wipes out their crops, they starve. Likewise, rich, powerful nations have traditionally required great vigilance to maintain their wealth and power.

But Europe increasingly resembles those insulated celebrities being shuttled around town from one humanitarian gala to another ­ like Barbra Streisand flying in by private jet to discuss excessive energy consumption with President Clinton. Just as elderly rockers and Hollywood divas are largely free from the tedious responsibilities of rich industrialists or supermarket magnates ­ payroll costs and plant upgrades ­ so the EU can flaunt its "concerns" about the world and leave the logistics to others.The US security umbrella, along with the Eurovision Song Contest, was really the prototype pan-European institution. The Americans helped build a continent in which you could sing Waterloo rather than fight it, and, if in their excessive generosity they accelerated an inclination to softness and decadence, well, it's not their problem. For the wars of the future, it makes sense to have a mobile presence using old colonial bases in the Horn of Africa or old Soviet bases in Central Asia as temporary homes. The EU, meanwhile, has challenges of its own, and in the coming clash between a shrinking secularised Euro-elite and its swelling Islamist populations it's not clear whether, as James Baker would say, America has a dog in that fight. The only question for the Continent is whether it's over over there in a more profound sense than those singing doughboys ever contemplated.

Obviously, Mr. Steyn is gifted with a talent for words and he uses them like fine instruments. I wish that I were as eloquent but at least I am free to post his words here. I hope you enjoyed them because he said what I wanted to far better than I could have...

Smilin' Paul Villa U.S. Senate 2004
cyber-Congressman, R-Reno
Proud Member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and 2 SUV Family


Post a Comment

<< Home