Saturday, February 26, 2005

Adult Supervision Required

Victor Hanson is not impressed with European soft power--and rightly so. But he thinks the best way to get a responsible Europe that will defend itself is to walk away:

How, then, can Mr. Bush salvage the old relationship? After the Cold War, we only acerbated an already unwholesome parent-teenager relationship with the Europeans, who bragged of their new independence, snapped at their benefactors, but always counted on our subsidized protection. That simultaneous denial of and insistence on dependency was not healthy for a continent with a larger population and economy than the United States, as contemporary European insecurity always warred with past glories and unrealized potential capabilities.

Yet, if Europeans are ever going to enter into a full partnership with America, then we better let them move out, encourage them to rearm—or hope they find that the world works according to the refined protocols of the Hague. America must have the confidence that the European pan-democratic continent has evolved beyond warring against itself—and us as well. For all the diplomacy of Secretary Rice and President Bush, it is the Europeans’ choice, not our call.

I don't believe that Europe is beyond another bout of internal bloodletting. Just because Europe since 1945 has only seen war in the Balkans does not mean war is banished. Europe went through a period from 1815 to 1914 without much large-scale war. France versus Prussia, Austria versus Prussia, Russia versus Britain and France, French versus Italians (I think). It sounds like a lot, but over 99 years and considering the violent past of Europe, that really wasn't much. So I'm not convinced that Europe has had war bred out of it. They have a violent past and the very zeal they look to Brussels is a sign that Europeans don't think war is bred out of them. Otherwise why would they seek suppression of national conflict through a super-state entangling them all in rules and treaties?

And if Europe isn't immune from warlike impulses, I don't think it is safe to assume that a revival of war impulses couldn't be directed against us. We could be blamed for their problems. They blame us for so many things already, why not?

Nor is it quite moral to abandon the people in Europe who still support us. Are we to leave them to the tender mercies of absolutist bureaucrats?

We need to fight for the soul of Europe and try to bend events to benefit us--not walk away and assume the continentals will get it right. What will make them get it right? What external threat is there that Europe might need to face? There's nothing. No external military threat exists that could make Europeans wake up and rearm and use hard power at our side against a common enemy.

I have no confidence that Europeans have evolved against warring against themselves--or us.