A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Europe's Turn

I just came across this piece of commentary from the Guardian. It is quite interesting (although I don't agree that the War in Iraq is "lunatic folly") and I agree with much that the author, Jonathan Freedland, has to say.

Here is an excerpt:

If Europe doesn't want Middle East war to begin again, it has to step up---

Insults are not predictions: they're not meant to come true. But the leading nations of Europe seem bent on proving that every word of abuse rained down on them from across the Atlantic over the past few years was justified. To call the French "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" once appeared no more than a neocon slander. The American insistence that Europe was a continent of limp-wristed wusses, who were fond of fancy oratory but ran from the first sign of trouble, could be written off as mere Texan bluster.

Not now. With France in the lead, the great powers of Europe are confirming the US right's prejudices. During this summer's war between Israel and Hizbullah, they certainly talked the talk - pressing for a ceasefire, demanding an international force be placed between the combatants. But now it's time to walk the walk, and the Europeans are finding they'd rather stay on their chaise longues.

The French are the worst offenders. In a hurry to show the Americans how great powers ought to conduct themselves in the Middle East, France boasted of its status as the former colonial master in Lebanon and jointly proposed the UN resolution that would end hostilities. Central to that accord was the promise of a 15,000-strong force capable, alongside the Lebanese army, of keeping Hizbullah behind the Litani river and Israel behind its own border. France would supply most of the troops and be in command.

But now it's time to deploy and the French have dispatched precisely 200 troops - far short of the number the UN hoped they would send. They, and the Italians, whose planned 3,000-strong contingent now puts them in line to lead the UN force, are suffering from cold feet. They're worried that their men will be vulnerable; that they may have to confront Hizbullah; and that, if they don't, Israel will start do the job itself, leaving the blue helmets in the crossfire.
Unless the Europeans would like to have their women wearing burqas and be forced to pray to Allah, it is time for Europe to step up and fight the good fight, as we did for them 60 years ago.

We are in another battle for civilization. This time, for once, it is not the Germans storming across France, Germany, Poland, Austria, etc. It is the slow crawl of the barbarous Muslims, who seek only to conquer. Sure, there are plenty of Muslims who are nice, friendly people, who only want to live their lives, but the ones who speak loudest and are active want to see us dead and our ideals with us.

We, the US, cannot not do it all. Nor can Britain or Israel. If the Europeans want to be saved, they will have to exert themselves.

So this is Europe's responsibility. Over the past five years, the continent's politicians have made great capital lambasting the simple-minded crassness of the Bush approach, its doomed belief that the world could be reordered by force. Americans were from Mars, Europeans were from Venus - believers in the gentle suasions of "soft power". Much of that made good sense. But these Venusian Europeans usually conceded that there were times when there was no alternative to military might, albeit deployed for pacific ends. Most European leaders guiltily concede that a properly mandated force could have stopped the massacre at Srebrenica and should have stopped the genocide in Rwanda. The lesson of both those calamities is that sometimes Europe has to use hard power. Now is just such a time, and Europe is dithering pathetically. The result is that a Washington Post commentator could yesterday declare with justification that "as we always learn, Europe without American leadership is a mere tourist destination".
Soon enough, if the Europeans decline to act, Europe will only be a tourist destination of the Muslim sort.

I, for one, don't plan to pack a burqa when I finally visit England and the Continent.

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