Skip to comments.Mark Steyn- Message from America: we're independent
Posted on 07/06/2002 4:57:52 PM PDT by Pokey78
On Thursday, to celebrate America's Independence Day, I celebrated America's independence - not just from George III but from the rest of what passes for the civilised world. You only have to glance at the front pages of any European newspaper to realise that America is the western world's odd man out, and has been increasingly since September 11.
Personally, I couldn't be happier about it. I'm delighted the United States is "out of step" with, say, Belgium. Not because I'm Belgophobic. If the Belgians want to support the International Criminal Court, keep Saddam in office until his nuke arsenal is ready to fly, and continue subsidising Yasser Arafat's pay-offs to the relicts of suicide bombers, go ahead, you're an independent nation.
Unfortunately, on the European side, it's the very concept of independence that's at issue. The Rest Of The West disputes not America's positions so much as its right to have positions. To do so is "unilateralist" - which is, when you think about it, just another word for "independent". When your positions are as independent of the global consensus as those of Mr Bush then you must be - all together now - "arrogant". Or so we are assured by such famously modest types as John Simpson, the liberator of Kabul, and his anonymous interviewee in last week's Telegraph, the "leading British civil servant" who complained about the President's "arrogance" while describing him as "a bear of very little brain".
One sympathises with Sir Hugh Sless-Auld-ffarquahar, GCMG or whoever it was. Obviously, the Presidency of the United States has never attracted the same calibre of talent as the Deputy Permanent Under-Secretaryship of the Ministry of Car Parks. But I wonder if this is quite the way to ensure Britain's voice is heard in Washington. Smug-ffarquahar's complaint is that Mr Bush presumes to "announce to the Palestinians who should and shouldn't be their leader". Actually, that's not what the President said and, in fact, it's the Euro-elite who tell people who they can vote for. In February, Louis Michel, the Belgian Foreign Minister, speaking on behalf of the EU, threatened sanctions against Italy if they voted for Umberto Bossi's Northern League. Nothing "arrogant" about that, apparently.
In other words, the Michels and Pattens and Smug-Pratts are indulging in what the psychologists call displacement. Mr Bush is a polite, modest fellow. He speaks softly because he carries the world's biggest stick. Conversely, the Europeans speak ever more shrilly because their twig is even tinier than Osama bin Laden's notoriously small penis. If they wanted to, they could make the twig bigger, by spending more on defence. But they've made a conscious decision decided not to: as Paavo Lipponen, the Finnish Prime Minister, said in a recent speech in London, "the EU must not develop into a military superpower but must become a great power that will not take up arms at any occasion in order to defend its own interests". Perhaps it lost something in translation, but, if he means what he says, the EU has embarked on a unique scheme for world domination dependent on hectoring the rest of the planet into submission. If Mr Bush is allowed to go his own way, this strategy of noisy impotence - all mouth and no trousers - will be exposed as a sham.
But America is also a historical anomaly: the first non-imperial superpower. It has no colonies and no desire for any. For almost 60 years, it's paid for the defence of the West virtually single-handed while creating and supporting structures - the UN, Nato, G8 - that exist only to allow its "allies" to pretend they're on an equal footing. For "allies", read dependencies: it's because the US provides generous charity defence guarantees that the European governments have been free to fritter away their revenues on socialised health care and lavish welfare. The non-arrogance of Washington is unparalleled in human history: it's American muscle that tames Bosnia but it's the ludicrous Paddy Ashdown who gets to swank about the joint playing EU viceroy.
In Washington, meanwhile, cooler assessments are being made. America knows now what multilateralism boils down to: after September 11, Nato invoked its famous Article Five - an attack on one member is an attack on all - and, even as the declaration was rolling off the photocopier, a big chunk of America's nominal allies were insisting it didn't mean anything. There's no point pooling resources with people who have no resources to pool. There's no point getting together and forming a whole that's less than the sum of your individual part.
If that sounds "arrogant" to Europe, well, do something about it. You don't want Bush to topple Saddam? Fine. Sign a mutual defence pact with him. You like Yasser that much? Send your mythical Rapid Reaction Force to guard Ramallah. That's what real powers do. But sneering civil servants being patronising about colonials isn't going to cut it. That argument was settled in 1776.
...and he runs it in an English paper. I love it.
Mark, you da MAN!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.