Saturday, October 25, 2008

Should we emulate the EU?

This question isn’t a frivolous one. We have a presidential candidate who thinks we should consult the EU on matters of diplomacy and shouldn’t go to war unless we have their cooperation and approval. How sturdy is this EU rock the American Left wants to establish its foreign policy upon?

On page 26 of A Grand Illusion, an Essay on Europe, Tony Judt writes, “The Second World war was peculiar both in that it had divided countries against themselves and in that almost every European participant lost. It thus had the interesting and lasting consequence of giving the sub-Continent something else in common: a shared recent memory of war, civil war, occupation, and defeat. Despite the huge human losses of the First World War the sense of a common experience of conflict and destruction was far greater after 1945. As a result, Europeans became, collectively, ‘defeatist’ – not only unwilling to fight one another anymore but wary of any commitment to fighting at all.

“This was not very surprising: Austria had, by 1945, lost six wars in succession since the time of Metternich: France had suffered three costly and debilitating continental wars in the span of one man’s lifetime, from each of which the country emerged poorer and weaker. Belgium had been fought over and occupied twice in thirty years. It is significant that ever since 1945 opinion polls across western Europe show a consistent reluctance on the part of most people to express any confidence in their own state’s military capacity, little support for high military expenditure, and no sustained inclination to treat military prowess as a measure of national greatness. The two outstanding exceptions to this pattern are Great Britain and Finland – the only two west European states to have emerge from the second World War with a creditable military record of which to boast.”

COMMENT: This is something all Americans know more or less, and yet a great number of them believe that Europe is wiser in terms of diplomacy and the use of military power. Perhaps the Americans who want to look to Europe in these matters are at heart pacifists and so the European pacifism resonates with them. Europe learned their pacifism the hard way – as though some bully beat up a smaller boy who kept getting up. The boy kept getting up and the bully kept knocking him down. At last when the boy could get up no longer he had finally learned defeat. He had become a pacifist the hard way.

But America has not been knocked down in that way. We have not suffered European-type defeats. Yes, we suffered a defeat of sorts in Vietnam, but that was the sort of thing the British, in their empire days took in stride. Stiff-upper-lip, you know. We’ll whip them next year if we need to. No, the American pacifists, I suspect, grew their pacifism as a rationalization for their unwillingness to fight in Vietnam. The alternative would be to admit to cowardice. It is much better to become a pacifist. Look at Europe. They have a whole sub-continent full of them.

As a further reflection upon my hypothetical NAU ( North American Union -- see ) we do have NAFTA, which is the sort of agreement that Europeans used to build upon in order to grow their EU. However, the Europeans sought a sort of huddling together. We have all been beaten, abused, and raped; so let’s hunker down in our pacifistic EU. Neither Canada, Mexico, nor the U.S. have had that experience. Canada and Mexico haven’t had the experience of being great conquering nations, but neither have they had the European experience of being conquered. There would be difficulties bringing these three nations together, but not European-type difficulties, and least I don’t think so.

In I wrote,”In regard to Japan, the Journalist, Hiro Aida wrote, “During the height of U.S.-Japan tensions in the 1980s, a friend of mine, a Japanese trade lawyer qualified for the DC and New York bars, said that the best way to solve all our bilateral troubles was for Japan to become the 51st state of the United States. This would by definition eliminate “international’ trade frictions between us and, moreover, the relatively populous ‘state’ of Japan would gain more than a quarter of all the seats in the House of Representatives – a political block so huge that it could dominate U.S. trade policies! My friend, clearly, was either joking or crazy. Even so, it is worth asking whether Japan would be a red or a blue 51st state. It is blue at the moment, but not so blue as France where 85 percent support Barack Obama. Japan would be a blue state with motley red spots, particularly among the leadership elite.”

If we considered, hypothetically – just for the sake of making a point, Canada and Mexico as the 51st and 52nd states, we would be committing ourselves to being utterly blue forever, I fear, but consider the sort of blueness we would be. Yes, blue and therefore liberal and unwarlike . . . except we have not ever suffered the sort of defeat the Europeans have, and if push came to shove (our blueness being only skin deep), we would enter a future war with the confidence that we could win it – something the Europeans have apparently lost the ability to imagine.

Lawrence Helm

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