“Dear Old Europe”

An Open Letter

Stephen Green asks Europe for a a little less interference with Iran:

You guys have your managed economies, and we have our free markets. But as long as we’re all enjoying the good life, who cares how it comes about? You get your long vacations seventeen times a year, and we get our hyperdefinition fusion TVs. However you slice it, though, we’re still the same — we each enjoy our leisure, and lots.

We’d like you guys to get a little more active in the world, and you’d like us to reign it in a little. But when push doesn’t come to shove, we really want the same thing: to get about the business of enjoying our lives and our families. Now, you think you can get there by playing nice, while we think we have to play nasty from time to time. For all the friction of our different means, you and I still desire the same ends.

We’re a lot alike, you and me. And that makes what I have to say all the more difficult.

Go read the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Iran a No-Show for Meeting With U.N.


  1. First off, ‘Dear Old Europe’ is so irrelevant they aren’t worth talking to about much of anything. Secondly, they will soon be gone forever. Read yesterday’s piece by Mark Steyn and try to disagree with any of it. http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110007760 We had better be ready to deal with Iran ourselves and / or with the Israelis.

  2. I thought I should repost the following that I just posted there, about how Europe sees the USA as having different interests and agendas, how it doesn’t see even a US success as being a patch on European initiatives but sees the USA as preventing European actions. It’s not any European preference for being nice – read on… There’s a deep misunderstanding about Europe here, probably due to the USA being comparatively short-termist. Europe does not think being ‘nice’ will work (remember Suez?). Only Europe has learned that it cannot take any intiatives (remember Suez?). That’s why European militaries have atrophied, why Europe wanted the USA in on the Balkans (for fear that any initiative would be undercut if it wasn’t), and why Europe won’t strengthen up (why, when there would be no discretion in what was done with the forces?). European military reductions are not a cause of military impotence but a symptom – the recognition that the USA has consistently undercut the possibility of independent action since the ’50s (there was only just enough left for the Falklands campaign). The US took over the global policeman role and displaced the policing efforts others were applying after their own hard learning curve – only, the US’s cultural history rejected the sound reasons for European behaviour that it squelched (remember Suez?), and made it that much harder for the US to learn the lessons in its turn. What is more, the limited ethical justifications for imperialism do not apply to interfering with civilised countries and Europe (remembering more distant history like Greece and Rome) has a well founded fear that a USA without full understanding might well do the same sort of thing as Rome once did to Greece – liberate yet inadvertently destroy. A curious side effect of all this is that practically all European special forces are man for man better than US ones (equipment not considered). Dutch marines are better than US ones, and so on. But quantity has a quality all its own, and ordinary forces are much less motivated too. And in regard to Iran, well, that is European initiative on the diplomatic front, just not aligned with current official US policy. It may well be misdirected, but there’s no value to Europe in helping the USA there (no, really). The values are indeed different, for instance ‘Europe’ doesn’t care in the slightest about the survival of the state of Israel as such, though it does not desire massacre either. But it sees little to choose between what it sees as two lots of ragheads who are already killing each other.

  3. I have to aggree with Lawrence here, I live in the UK and that his post beautifully sums up the opinions people have over here. Bizarrely though, because of movies and holidays limited to theme parks and the like, people in Europe seem to think that the US people should have the same mentality as them. They do not seem to grasp the very size of the US and the different socio-economic situation.

  4. So what you’re saying Lawrence, is that Europe is cursed to eternal inaction/cowardice just because of what happened at Suez and the existence of the USA (that is, if the US wasn’t confronting evil tyrants around the world, Europe would suddenly grow a backbone and do so itself)? Thats funny because I always thought you had a choice to move beyond failures in the past and take a stand for good in the present. ‘but there’s no value to Europe in helping the USA there (no, really).’– So what? Europe’s only value is ‘do whatever the USA hates’; no matter how wrong or suicidal that may be? (Bravo, that’s the way to assert your sovereignty) By the way Lawrence, what makes you think Europe’s SF and Marines are better then the USA’s? I’d be interested in any facts you could give me on that (rounds fired in training, physical fitness standards, ect.) As well as places I could go to check it out for myself. But I guess it doesn’t matter if they’re better if Europe doesn’t have the guts to use them for anything.

  5. Baracus, I should mention that I am not a European (I emigrated from the UK to Australia), and I am not endorsing a European position but describing it. However your response is mistaken at several levels. Whatever European agenda might emerge, absent US hegemony, would be different in various respects. But that doesn’t mean it would shirk a policing role as now (‘hey, you pushed us out – it’s all yours, you ungrateful Americans’). Nor does it mean that there would be an instant European recovery of the means. After all, it took decades to wind down to this level (until the ’70s the Royal Navy was still doing the Persian Gulf policing, and is still active in Oman now). As for comparisons of troops, I was careful to point out that this was comparing the higher grade forces after the effects of forced reductions. These have allowed more selectivity. I have myself observed Dutch marines, and heard how US marines refused to go over a Royal Marines assault course (some years ago now, of course). And I did not compare US equipment, ordinary troops, or overall effectiveness adversely with European forces. I just pointed out one area where the cloud had a silver lining. Of course, by nearly all standards but US ones, ‘a stand for good’ includes working towards winding back today’s US role in the world. That even includes my own standards, though you shouldn’t read into that any endorsement of extreme means while lesser options and indeed US alteration remain possible. But I do not regard a US victory, in today’s situation, as anything other than the horse exchanging the wolf for the man who rode him. I belong rather to the old school of British conservatism, culturally; the one that does not regard alliance as subservience.

  6. I find the comment about ‘ragheads killing each other’ WRT Europe especially amusing. In many ways, Israel is composed out of the cream of Europe. Many of the best European businessment, scientists, doctors etc. were Jewish and many of them emigrated to Israel since its formation and now. That they wouldn’t recognise the people who once lived in their lands (and in some cases still do), and desire to have economic and other ties with them is ludicrous. In my mind the biggest difference between Israel and the countries that surrounds it are not religious, cultural, political or governmental. Rather, it’s that Israel is a highly successful, hard-working and smart nation whereas most of its neighbours are not. I think, without Israel and Jews, the western world would not be as rich as it is today. Why, therefore, would Europeans want nothing to do with them? Also, if Europe are taking a long term view, why do they not care about the impacts that allowing global instability (ignoring terrorism and genocide, etc.) will inevitably have on themselves? If nobody did anything about terrorism, I’d hate to think what Europe would be like in 20, 30 or 50 years. In fact, even with the USA’s attempts to control radical Islamism, etc. I fear for what Europe would turn in to. So, how is their view longer? I’d agree that the USA has, in the past, acted with very short sight. But that does not seem to be the case at the moment, thank god. Have they not noticed the shift, or do they not want to?

  7. Nicholas, European views of individual Jews who went to Palestine (earlier) or Israel (later) don’t affect their – or in this case my, as well – view of the state of Israel as being pretty much a rogue state in most meaningful respects. There’s the memory of how it was established through terrorism against the British. Furthermore, unlike Eire, there’s still an essential continuity with that; the routine violations of other countries’ sovereignty, with things like abductions and assassinations – often without even the tenuous justification of direct terrorist connections, but plain ordinary raison d’etat like the assassination of Gerald Bull in Belgium. Yes, of course there were reasons of Israeli national interest; that’s largely the point. As for the longer term view, again I share it although not in as great a degree: that the USA is in fact charging off in the wrong direction, most likely making things worse, and that it’s anyway a lose-lose for the rest of the world, since US victory on US terms would actually make other countries more vulnerable to being pushed around. Like I said, it’s the fable of the horse teaming up with the man to beat the wolf, only ending up stuck with the man (it’s from Aesop, I think). It’s not a ‘nobody would do it if the USA didn’t’ thing – it’s a ‘nobody else can take initiatives separate from the USA, since we know from experience that they stop us if we try’. Absent the USA, there would be a period of great dificulty while the rest of the world got its act together – but that wouldn’t be an enduring thing. Don’t forget, Britain continued the policing role in the Persian Gulf very effectively until the early ’70s, when Carter (of all people) thought the US should get more involved. And even now, Britain has effective responsibility for keeping Oman quiet – and succeeds, so far.