August 23, 2008
Europe Betrays Itself in GeorgiaBy James Lewis
Europe has been the cause and battleground for all three World Wars of the 20th century. For that reason there has been one supreme question in world affairs since Hitler and Stalin: Can Europe ever learn to avoid repeating its own suicidal history?
For many years the answer seemed to be "Yes." Every German chancellor since Konrad Adenauer voiced the Western consensus that the civilized world had to support democracy and liberty, for its own sake. That meant opposing totalitarian dangers before they became lethal to the civilized world. The Europeans were pretty sober about that, because they could see the results of totalitarian tyranny, just by glancing over the Berlin Wall. Day after day, people got shot trying to flee the Workers' Paradise. The West was constantly reminded of which direction they were trying to escape.
We also understood very clearly that Hitler should have been stopped early on, before he grew too powerful. The accepted wisdom was that Winston Churchill turned out to be right, and Neville Chamberlain was wrong. Chamberlain himself admitted exactly that after he resigned as Britain's Prime Minister.
Yet today, Europe has flopped itself into an abject kow-towing posture toward Moscow. Former German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder --- by far the worst German leader in six decades --- has just blamed Georgia for getting itself invaded by Russia. I don't know if Schroeder believes in a good public whipping for all the victims of rape and violence in Germany, but that would follow with perfect logic from his betrayal of Georgia.
This is the biggest international development since the end of the Cold War. The West has knowingly junked the most important policy lesson of the 20th century: Don't give in to armed bullies. This failure will come back to bite us. You can bet on it.
Putin the Poisoner is a throwback to the bully politics of Stalin and Hitler. He hasn't achieved their level of dangerousness -- not yet. But let Europe keep kissing Putin's anatomy and he'll get there pronto.
And now the Europeans are demanding that the United States rescue them from their own folly.
It's pretty amazing.
This is the story of how the EU blindly indulged the Moscow Bully to become more and more aggressive, culminating in his creaking blitzkrieg into Georgia a few weeks ago. By now Putin has moved mobile ballistic missiles into South Ossetia and is threatening nuclear strikes on Poland. In the Middle East he is reverting to Moscow rules by selling advanced military hardware to Syria and Iran. All of former Soviet colonies are under barrel of the gun again, and they can feel that old familiar chill going up their spines. The peoples of Poland, the Ukraine and Georgia are not looking to France, Germany or Britain for help. There is no help to be found there. They are just looking to the United States.
Europe's failure to grow up as a responsible power, able and willing to protect its own Eastern neighbors, is a profound betrayal of its own best values, not to mention its own self-destructive history.
President Saakashvili of Georgia said it: "Who else can stand up for liberty in the world?"
He was talking about the United States. But that's giving Europe a pass they don't deserve. Europe has all the means to stand up for liberty in the world. What they lack is the guts, the crucial will to defend themselves and their fellow members of the European Union. The welfare state has siphoned off the money needed for a working European military. It has also sapped the will to survive. Britain's supine surrender to Iran's kidnapping of half a dozen sailors under the very guns of a British warship tells the whole story. Queen Victoria would be rightly ashamed.
Thus the Europeans have abandoned the Western Enlightenment. In their Post-Modern fad they have even tried to destroy all the reasoning that went into the Age of Reason. The American Constitution and Declaration of Independence are among the greatest political documents of the Enlightenment. The leftist part of the West is in decline -- that includes our Democrats, Senator Obama -- but not because it lacks anything materially. Its sickness is purely spiritual and moral.
The EU ruling class didn't actually invite Putin to invade Georgia, but their violent rage at the US made them such an attractive target for the Bully of Moscow that just they slammed the Russian door into their own noses. Putin just took advantage of their weakness, their timidity and their constant efforts to split the United States from Europe -- which is what Chirac and Schroeder were trying to do, when they whipped up European rage against George W. Bush. Anti-Americanism is not spontaneous. It is strategic. It's just a childish, vain, and self-destructive strategy.
The modern wave of anti-Americanism in the European media is a close copy of previous nationalistic propaganda campaigns. Otto von Bismarck united the German provinces in 1870 by whipping up anti-French nationalist hatred. Anti-Americanism in Europe is just a reprise of Bismarck's tactics, except it is intended to unite the European Union against a single, safe enemy: Us. If the political elites chose to put a lid on anti-American hatred, they could, because politics and the media are controlled by the same political class. The fact that major magazines and newspapers, like Der Spiegel in Germany, continue to rage at the United States is a signal of elite opinion. But it is also a sign of their impotence and their lack of willingness to grow up into a responsible world power.
Imagine you're Vlad Putin -- you'll have to wear your Pirates of the Caribbean outfit with the bearskin hat -- and it's five years ago, the fateful year of 2003. For decades the United States has warned the world about Saddam Hussein, situated right at the oil spigot of the industrial world. Nobody really knows what Saddam has in the way of a nuke program. But Hussein, a truly sadistic tyrant who delights in torture, has been boasting and hinting about his nukes for decades, even before the Israelis knocked out his Osirak nuclear plant in 1981. Even the Democrats said it over and over again. It's not debatable.
By 2003 even the UN knows that Saddam has 550 metric tons of yellowcake uranium. They've gone so far as to put pathetic-looking seals on the locks of the wooden warehouses where the uranium is stored. That'll stop him! So anybody with a bulldozer can knock a hole in the wall, take a couple hundred pounds of that uranium and make a dirty nuke. Just load it onto an airplane, fill it with aviation fuel, and fly it into the Pentagon. Or into the Saudi oil fields, just a half hour by air from Baghdad. It's not hard; Uday and Qusai could have done it in a heartbeat, and don't think they didn't ask Daddy to do it. Even Osama Bin Laden managed to hit us in 2001, but fortunately without the yellowcake. Consider that pure luck.
The purpose of a dirty bomb is not to kill by radiation or blast. It is to panic and traumatize an enemy. Can you imagine the world panic a dirty bomb would trigger? You don't need anything more than Saddam had. All the fraudulent media outrage about Saddam's WMDs is utter nonsense. Saddam had the means to start a major stampede in the Western media with huge consequences for the world. We were just hoping and praying he wouldn't do it. But prayer is not policy.
As for Saddam's intentions, he invaded Kuwait in 1992, just a couple of hours' tank ride across the nice flat desert to Saudi Arabia. Saddam's big mistake was stopping his tanks. He could have sent his armor driving right into the Saudi oil fields and controlled 40% of the world's oil. We beat him back in 1992, but we left him in power. In gratitude, he tried to assassinate George H.W. Bush. This is something the New York Times tends to overlook. I guess they don't really blame him for trying.
Saddam Hussein was a megalomaniac mass-murderer who had giant statues put up to himself, claimed to have fifty palaces, and had building-sized wall posters showing him on a white horse as the conqueror Saladdin. Does that tell you anything about his hopes and dreams? He ran a terror regime explicitly modeled after the Nazis, having started his career as an assassin for the Ba'ath Party. In his regime of fear nobody could tell the truth, including his own generals, who all thought he had WMDs. The CIA was sure to be wrong, since they've always been wrong about nukes before. They've got the track record to prove their uselessness.
So there you are, the leader of the free world, faced with a known aggressor with WMD capacity, and no reliable intelligence at all. What's the lesson from Hitler, Stalin and Tojo?
Talk about making a tough decision in the face of lethal uncertainties.
George W. Bush takes Saddam out. Better be safe than sorry when it comes to an international bully with 500 tons of yellowcake. It's the only sane decision to make. You don't wait for metaphysical certainty when so many lives are on the line. You act to remove the danger. Bush did just that. Bless him for his clarity and courage.
Back in Moscow, Vlad the Poisoner is one po'd guy when he sees the US military knocking out Saddam in just three weeks. Here's the United States showing its cookies, and Mother Russia is weaker than it's been since 1917.
Now Putin is a classic bully, who keeps testing the limits of his power. So he started with killing his domestic opponents, assassinating journalists, nationalizing industries, and chilling the Russian media. Small stuff. Then he proceeded to poison KGB traitors in London and Ireland, trying to kill the Ukraine's President Yushchenko, and invading Georgia. Those are only the high points; behind the scenes you can bet there's a lot more.
After every Russian shove Europe backs down. Worse than that, it let itself to be bought off. The worst example is our friend former Chancellor Herr Gerhardt Schroeder, who got himself a top job with Russia's Gazprom energy company right after he passed a sell-out energy treaty through the German parliament. That'll teach Putin how to deal with Europe.
Here's an interesting link: Germany's natural gas supplies are now mostly from Russia; Georgia owned a competing pipeline; Herr Schroeder works for Gazprom, the Russian energy monopoly controlled by Putin. Russia invades Georgia three weeks ago, and Schroeder publicly blames the victim for getting herself raped. Interesting, no? And we know that Putin was the KGB rezident in East Germany before the Evil Empire fell, so he knows the German elites inside and out. Every East German used to report on every other one. The West Germans were thoroughly penetrated from top to bottom. You think maybe the Russians still have some pull over there?
Whatever Europe does it does partly out of fear, partly out of calculation, and partly out of vanity. The vanity part burst out at the United States after the Cold War --- which, remember, crunched all those imperial egos in Paris and Berlin, London, Stockholm and Brussels. European capitals have been the center of an empire; they cherish an imperial past and indulge in sheer self-puffery. Moscow, London, Berlin, Paris -- Europe's grandiosity is amazing. So they secretly hated being dominated by the dumb Americans for the whole Cold War, even if it saved their necks. If you doubt it, just read British spy novelists like Graham Greene and John Le Carre, both seething leftie America-haters who used to work in the Brit government.
After the Cold War, Europe went into one of its periodic fits of mad self-glorification. Except this time it was socialist self-glorification, which is "peaceful world conquest by good people who understand Karl Marx." If that sounds bizarre, just check out the standard propaganda line from the European Union. It's all compassionate imperialism. But if you remember your history you might wonder what's really going on.
When they saw Saddam brought down, our European friends went into their biggest hate-America explosion since World War II. The foremost US-haters were Jacques Chirac and Gerhardt Schroeder. Their rage against us was strategic, not just emotional: They were trying to split the Atlantic Alliance, so their new Holy Roman Empire could take over. After all, they have 450 million people, a huge industrial base, the European Union (which they control top-down), a Ruling Class (which they also control), and the hollow shell of a superstate, like police, a judiciary, military unification, a world-class armaments industry, an executive branch, a president, and a foreign ministry. So if they could draw in Britain and the former Soviet colonies, they would have the biggest empire in the world. The dream of a united Europe, shared by Charlemagne, Napoleon, Stalin and Hitler, would finally be a reality.
George W. Bush stood in the way of socialist world victory through love and peace -- plus a really, really good fantasy life. Bush made the US look strong. That's all wrong, as our Democrats are always telling us. The Democrats are European socialists. There's not much daylight between Obama and the Prime Minister of Sweden. (That's why Obama has such a tough time figuring out what they mean by "patriotism." What the hell does it mean? It's so confusing.)
So George W. got ripped and ripped by our good friends in Europe. The Democrats would have jumped up and down on his naked bleeding body if they ever got the chance. Some of them are still trying to Impeach Bush.
It wasn't just a lot of screaming and yelling. Europe's military response to 9/11 was pathetic beyond belief. It still is.
Our media and Democrats may not remember this, but seven years ago the United States was attacked by Islamofascist terrorists, who killed nearly 3,000 people in NYC and DC. NATO is a mutual defense pact, which translates as "we help you and you help us." NATO has kept Europe secure for sixty years. But it's all been one-way -- we've defended them with the Berlin Airlift, by building up European armies, in proxy wars in the Middle East, Korea and Vietnam, and in finally by getting the Soviets to let go of their European colonies, when Ronald Reagan gently pushed them into a nervous breakdown.
We've done our share. What did Europe do after 9/11? Other than raging at the victim?
Well, here's an honest European's opinion, Matthias Doepfner, the CEO of the Axel-Springer publishing group:
James Lewis blogs at dangeroustimes.wordpress.com