Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Talent for War

Robert M. wrote in response to my Sitzkrieg post, wondering how the Germans could go from warriors to worriers so thoroughly. Did the Cold War sap them of martial vigor so completely? Did NATO succeed all too well in keeping the Germans down? (In addition to keeping the Russians out and the Americans in, as the saying went.)

Did we do this to the Germans by protecting them? The Germans were among the best soldiers in NATO and an ally whose loyalty rivaled Britain's. Yes, the German people increasingly worried about theater nuclear weapons and had their own detente policy with East Germany, but the government remained solid in keeping an excellent army in the field. Perhaps the influx of natural socialists from uniting with East Germany pushed Germany over the edge.

And is this a general European disease? Is Europe committed to peace?

For now, I suppose so. But I don't assume the Germans are permanently pacifist any more than I think Europe is permanently defanged. Europeans are very much from Mars.

The Europeans don't believe they are pacifists. This is why their elites strive so hard to create a European empire by force of regulations instead of force of arms. They want to suppress the European talent for warfare.

Of course, I think that we should oppose a European empire regardless of how it is formed. Letting one entity control the economic, financial, scientific, and military power of the continent would be a mistake. We've fended off threats from Europe since our birth and I don't assume this threat is extinguished.

An EU empire will be threat to us and when a nation tries to withdraw, a EU Brezhnev Doctine will be used to forcibly keep that nation in the EU. You won't leave the EU any more than you can leave the mob. And internal threats? We've seen how they can kill their own. It could happen again.

Victor Hanson sees the current European situation as reflecting the times of two past eras:

Despite a public anti-Americanism, individual Europeans extend the old warmth and friendship to American visitors. Yet beneath the veneer of the good life, there is also a detectable air of uncertainty in Europe this summer, one perhaps similar to that of 1914 or the late 1930s.

Two past pre-war eras, if I have to point out the obvious. And what might this bring?

Publicly, Europe's frustrations are fobbed off on "crass Americans" - and particularly George Bush. The Iraq war has poisoned the alliance, the Europeans insist. They contend that America's greedy consumers warm the planet, siphon off its oil and trample foreign cultures.

But in private, some Europeans will confess that the problem lies with Europeans, not us. Some brave soul soon is going to have to inform the European public: Work much harder and longer for less money; defend the continent on your own; move out of mama's house and start changing diapers - and from now on expect far less from the state.

Who knows what the reaction will be to that splash of cold water? In response, what European populist will soon appear on the streets in Rome, Berlin or Madrid once again to deceive the public that it was someone else who caused these disappointments?

We in America should take note of the looming end of this once seemingly endless summer. We've been there, done that with this beloved continent all too many times before.

In the end, we must stay engaged in Europe to prevent a new threat to us from arising in Europe. (And I worry more about the Europeans than any long range Moslem demographic threat that Mark Steyn writes about.) I value what they do for us as individual states.

We can have European friends, no doubt. We cannot have Europe as a friend.