March 12, 2007
The Hidden Premise of European Anti-AmericanismBy James Lewis
If "one's man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," then all wars are the same, liberation equals conquest, tyranny equals democracy, aggression equals defense, and Churchill equals Hitler.
That seems to be the hidden premise of European, and especially Franco-German cant against the American-British overthrow of Saddam. Because the truth is of course that George W. Bush's decision to overthrow Saddam for fear that he was armed with WMDs, is a lineal descendant of FDR's decision to come to the aid of Britain against Nazi Germany, Harry S. Truman's decision to fight in Korea, and Woodrow Wilson's decision to aid Western countries against Prussian militarism in World War I. The United States involved itself in these conflicts to prevent larger and terrible consequences for itself before being militarily attacked by Germany.
Saddam was a mass-murdering, aggressive tyrant, whose Baath Party grew straight out of the fascist parties of the 1930s. Saddam's desire and capacity for making WMDs were obvious to all, even the Left. Since military intelligence is always partly wrong, adult decisions must be made under uncertainty. Bush and Blair made a rational decision to overthrow Saddam, just as FDR and Churchill made a rational decision to overthrow Hitler. The West knew nothing about Hitler's efforts to make atom bombs and cruise missiles when they decided to stop him. Bush and Blair knew little about Saddam's actual weapons in Iraq --- Saddam deceived his own generals, as well as every intelligence agency of the West. Bush and Blair did what they had to do, given their imperfect but thoroughly alarming knowledge. When you see a sociopath with a gun, you don't wait for metaphysical certainty before taking action.
The hidden premise of the Franco-German-eld assault on American and British actions in Iraq is this:
If you deny the decent realism of American and British actions against Saddam, then you must also disavow Western actions taken against Hitler under similar circumstances.
The hidden subtext of European elite rage against George W. Bush is therefore by extension a post-hoc defense of the Nazis and Vichy France. Psychologically, it is a massive effort to deny guilt for fascist totalitarianism in Europe.
As I have recently pointed out, the idea that today's generation even needs to defend itself against the suspicion of fascism is utterly bizarre, and itself a creation of Europe's ruling elites. But once the accusation has been manufactured by the media and the educational system, the elites also "absolve" Europe of a false accusation by redirecting their people's guilt and anger against the defenders of decency in the world.
They use one of the oldest tricks of the trade: blame others to lend self-righteousness to their unification efforts. Bismarck did it with Austro-Prussian War and Franco-Prussian War The elites are in a serious effort to create a new European Empire beyond the dreams of Bismarck, but not those of Napoleon. If you doubt it, read about Dominique de Villepin's glorification of Napoleon and the new world-historic European Union (led by France, of course). De Villepin, Chirac, and the French socialists all share the same neo-imperial fantasies, and are pleased to employ Bismarckian propaganda to make it happen.
By accusing America and Britain of taking "illegal" action, Europe has elevated the United Nations to the status of a universal law-making body. The UN, the most consistently corrupt and undemocratic international front for leftwing and Islamist aggression, has thereby been implicitly elevated to the status of a legitimate, democratic institution. A fantasy of law is substituted for the real thing. Democratic countries with actual elected governments should take note, and ignore the consistently corrupt United Nations until it attains some degree of democratic legitimacy. If ever.
Until such happens, Coalitions of the Willing are needed to cope with real and urgent dangers today. France and Germany will be notably absent from such Coalitions acting to protect human civilization from the barbarism that looms once again.
The groundwork for moral equivalence between democracy and murderous tyranny was laid over two generations of willful post-modern obfuscation of the difference between "the fire and the fire brigade," as Churchill aptly called it. Unsurprisingly, the intellectual paragons of such ethical primitivism included Nazi admirers like Paul de Man, Martin Heidegger and Francois Mitterand, and Stalin worshippers like Jean-Paul Sartre. Many Sixties radicals in Europe were totalitarians in spirit, taking their cues from fascist as well as Leftist forerunners. Just as before the war, "les extrêmes se touchent (the extremes converge)." When the violent past of famous Green politician Joschka Fischer was exposed, he simply explained that, yes, "we (radicals) were drawn to the totalitarian temptation."
That's a nice way of putting it. As late as the 1970s the people of Cambodia were subject to the gentle ministrations of a French-trained Leftist intellectual who gave in to the "totalitarian temptation," someone named Pol Pot. Perhaps three million Khmer people never survived to tell the tale. Mao Zedong killed tens of millions of Chinese in the 1960s, even while American college airheads were parading with Mao's "Little Red Book." In recent memory two million North Koreans were starved of food by another Stalin-Mao devotee, Kim Jong Il, and nobody in the West really knows if the starvation has ended yet.
Europe is now being subjected to daft "Third Way Socialism" by a new ruling class that is trying to recreate a Soviet Lite version of the same old political con-job, using the same old scapegoating propaganda that worked so well for Bismarck in the nineteenth century. The goal, of course, is to serve themselves while proclaiming ever-lasting compassion for others.
Hence German hectoring against "the Anglo-Saxons" --- a phony racialist term from the 19th century --- and its implicit reversion to the dark, rejected past. Throw some really scary Islamic-fascist head-choppers into the mix, lubricate the whole mess with billions of euros in Saudi money, and you have today's witches' brew in European politics.
Irrational scapegoating is always the sign of political pathology. It doesn't matter who is playing the goat. Scapegoating is the premier social distress signal, the SOS of the soul. Anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, anti-Anglo-Saxonism are today's scapegoating passions on the European continent. But it could equally well be French anti-Prussianism of the 19th century, anti-Black demagogy in the American South during the Jim Crow years, or contemporary rage against democratic conservatives from the Left all over the world. Scapegoating is a confession of secret fear and envy. Totalitarian fantasies are designed to allay those feelings.
The solution to totalitarianism is well-known. It has been known since the European enlightenment, or perhaps since ancient Athens: It includes such standards as genuine tolerance for debate, a willingness to compete economically in open markets, a reliance on free speech and respect for the individual - because when you respect individuals there is no problem of racism, sexism, or homophobia. Goethe, Voltaire, Kant, Montaigne, Erasmus, Spinoza, Aquinas, Jefferson, Chesterton and a hundred others -- the entire enlightened ethical tradition of Western civilization -- stands ready to be used. Europe only needs to look to its own strengths to defeat today's "totalitarian temptations."
The struggle between enlightenment and the totalitarian temptation has never yet ceased, and it may never cease. Totalitarians are experts in the art of demagogy, sophistry and manipulation, but the bottom line is always destroying free speech, free thoughts and free actions. So it's not that hard to tell the sides from each other, even when the colors change from Black to Red to Green. The question is always: Can you tolerate open debate? If not, as in today's European Union, then you are at bottom a totalitarian. If yes, then you are a classical liberal --- or a modern democratic conservative.
James Lewis is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. He blogs at http://www.dangeroustimes.wordpress.com/