Thursday, February 20, 2020

Europe Has a Problem

Dare we say it, but Europe has a problem. Good old Europe, ancestral home to many of us, is in serious trouble. Not only has it lost Great Britain but its Eastern front is none too happy with the weak sisters of the West. To be more specific, while Western countries struggle to assimilate unassimilable Muslims, the East has closed its doors to migration… and thus, to looting, pillaging, raping and murder.

As though this were not bad enough, the Trump administration has called out the countries of NATO as freeloaders, as weaklings who depend for their defense on the American military.

It is not just a question of European nations paying their allotted share of the NATO budget. More importantly, it’s about whether any of them would fight to defend a Baltic nation, for instance, against a Russian incursion.

As Walter Russell Mead points out, the Europeans are wallowing in a Kantian fantasy of cosmopolitan universalism. They believe that they manifest superior virtue, because they have allowed their nations to be invaded by marauding armies of migrants who act like conquerors, not like supplicants.

They cannot defend themselves against internal or external enemies and they imagine that this proves their moral superiority:

Europeans often contrast the “nationalism” of backward political cultures like Russia, China and the U.S. with their own supposedly enlightened attitude of cosmopolitan solidarity. Yet if these numbers are accurate, Europeans haven’t replaced nationalism with European solidarity. They have replaced nationalism with fantasy: the belief that one can have security and prosperity without a strong defense.

The result: they are turning NATO into a paper tiger. Without the United States they would be in serious trouble. Hopefully they are beginning to see the light:

European leaders believe they are trading parochial loyalties for higher and broader commitments, when in truth their countries lack the solidarity that makes international order possible. Those who dream that they can have security without the willingness to fight for it are slowly turning NATO into the paper tiger that its enemies hope it will become.

Steven Erlanger raises a similar point in the New York Times. He sees European cowards quaking in their boots over the possibility of a second Trump term:

There was a lot for diplomats and policymakers to consider when they gathered at a recent global security conference in Munich: China rising, Russia meddling, Germany weakening. But the inescapable question — the one that might change the world most immediately for Europe — was whether President Trump would win re-election in November.

Needless to say, they were horrified to hear Mike Pompeo tell them that they ought to accept American leadership. This means, as often noted, that if these nations want to be American allies, they should act like it. This means, nations that cannot defend themselves, who depend entirely on the United States for their defense, should not act like petulant children by propping up the Iranian regime and pining for a return to the Iran Nuclear Deal and the Paris Climate Accords:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s admonishment to the Europeans to accept American leadership and “reality” was met at the conference with stony silence. Traditional American allies were far from assured that they would be able to depend on the United States in another Trump term.

Naturally, the Europeans were far more comfortable with citizen of the world, Barack Obama. After all, Obama was one of them. He opposed American nationalism and American patriotism in order to become a world leader. Thereby, he fulfilled the terms of their cosmopolitan universalism.

Naturally, it was like a trip to Fantasyland. They loved the feeling and they loved the view. And, rather than to face their own weakness, Europeans blame Donald Trump.

Many anticipate a collapse in the already eroding trust in American leadership and credibility.

“Trump’s re-election would be deeply consequential,” said a senior European official who asked not to be identified, fearing retribution on his country. “If the U.S. re-elects him, knowing everything about him, that will change things here.”

A second Trump term “will be more of the same and yet worse,” said Amanda Sloat, a former State Department official now at the Brookings Institution.

Mr. Trump has questioned the American commitment to NATO. “That has been corrosive to the underlying trust among allies,” Ms. Sloat said. “That might be reversible after one term, but eight years of Trump would be deeply damaging.”

Europeans saw Mr. Trump’s election, by such a narrow margin, as “maybe a blip,” said Daniel S. Hamilton, a professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins.

“If Americans re-elect him, it’s a strategic decision,” Mr. Hamilton said. “But it’s hard to know what the Europeans would actually do about it.”

Not surprisingly, the European diplomatic leadership is lost in the clouds, dazed and confused. They do not possess the competence required to work with America on future diplomatic initiatives. It’s like a bunch of children who rebel against parental authority but who do not know what to do once that authority pulls back:

Many expect the Europeans to heighten talk of independence, but to have trouble creating a credible security alternative, and thus, in the end, they would find ways to get along with Mr. Trump — or get around him — rather than confront him openly.

“There are a lot of voices saying that ‘we have to do more for strategic autonomy,’ cloaked in emancipatory rhetoric,” Mr. Hamilton said. “But there’s no consensus on what their own interests are. They may do just enough to annoy the Americans, but not enough to be serious.”

And also:

European leadership remains weak and divided, noted Sophia Besch, an analyst in the Berlin office of the Center for European Reform. “We talk a lot about U.S. leadership but not enough about European leadership,” she said.

Claudia Major, a defense expert with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said that much would depend “on what kind of Europe Trump meets.” It could be a strengthened one or a divided one that would allow bigger powers to take control.

“There are so many European answers,” she said, “because there are so many different countries and interests.”

Duh, they have just figured this out.


Freddo said...

When watching Europe's elites at play I imagine what the last days at Versailles must have been like, or perhaps the parliament when it was dissolved by Oliver Cromwell. The elites may howl, they may scream, but there is one thing they will not do: work hard at their tasks.

UbuMaccabee said...

The Cathedral knows it is under attack, but it's not sure of the next move. Cathedral will organize heavily to destroy Trump in 2020. They really do fear they might lose their firm grip on power. Western liberal democracy is not what it appears.

UbuMaccabee said...

Freddo, their only task is to hold power, no other. They are not fit for any other kind of work. One day you notice that there are no wise men running things. And that day is usually too late. That realization occurred to many in 1914, but was soon forgotten. The path to destruction is so clear to reason, but the momentum that pulls you into it anyway is something to behold. Ancients looked to the planets, but we laugh at them and have no better answers. Mars wants blood seems as good an answer as any.

Sam L. said...

Trump to the EU: You're grown up. You need to act like it. Your fate is in your hands. DEAL WITH IT.

“If Americans re-elect him, it’s a strategic decision,” Mr. Hamilton said. “But it’s hard to know what the Europeans would actually do about it.” My guess is Complain About It and Do Nothing Actual. Doing what is needed would cost them MONEY.