A Phony Alliance

Article excerpt

The U.S. fights for Europe while the E.U. fights America.

The USA has a strange habit of fighting the wrong enemy and ignoring the right one. Conservatives, sadly, have not been immune to this, though they have a better record than liberals in learning from their mistakes.

In the early years of Soviet global power after World War II, many in the U.S. ludicrously saw Great Britain and her bankrupt empire as a more dangerous rival than Stalin. Perhaps the lingering memory of the White House in flames in 1813 will always keep British and American conservatives further apart than they ought to be. The exposure of the real and repellent nature of the Soviet empire, by such writers as Arthur Koestler, together with the struggle for Berlin and the string of coups and takeovers across Eastern Europe, eventually persuaded those on the right that Moscow presented a profound and serious threat not just to American power but to everything America stood for. Yet, having recovered from one foolish mistake, American conservatives moved on to make another. During the long decline of the USSR, they failed to see the power of the cultural revolution that was trashing thought, literature, and morals in the West's universities, churches, and media. Now, weakened by that cultural revolution, the USA squanders its prestige in futile combat with puny tyrants in the Balkans and the Middle East, while actively encouraging the growth and consolidation of a new and resentful rival: the European Union.

It seems to be the settled view of the State Department that the E.U., which until recently was supposed to be nothing more than a trading bloc, should be encouraged to solidify into a superstate. Worse, those nations in Europe that are wary of joining this monster get no sympathy from the U.S., which seems rather to like the idea that "Europe" should have one address, supposedly so that it is easier to deal with. Much of the recent diplomacy over the Balkans has been designed to encourage the notion that there is a political entity called "Europe" which should learn to police its own problems. The truth-that the military operations against Serbia have been almost entirely American-has been deliberately obscured by the pretense that it is a joint American-European assault under the NATO flag.

This is a multiple fantasy. Without American forces, NATO is a military weakling. And as the historian Timothy Garton Ash has pointed out, Europe has changed its borders more often than Africa in the last hundred years. It has not been a political unit since the fall of the Roman Empire. Even then, its boundaries enclosed only part of the continent, which has no clearly defined limits but is generally thought to extend from the shores of the Atlantic to the disappointingly unspectacular range of hills known as the Ural Mountains. Within that space run a number of frontiers, some economic, some physical, some linguistic, some religious, all of them making nonsense of the idea that there can be a United States of Europe as there is a United States of America. A man who loses his job in Dublin cannot simply sell his house, put all his goods in a UHaul truck and drive to Athens or Milan. The language, laws, schooling, and culture are so different that he would need to undergo a four-year immersion course to cope when he got there. If he went further in any direction, the problems would be even greater. As well as more languages than I can count, Europe has three distinct alphabets. If you include the Caucasus region, make that five alphabets.

Only two of those alphabets are currently recognized in the European Union, which is an unequal alliance between a resurgent Germany and a declining France, together with their client states and a hesitant and isolated Britain. The E.U. also excludes the Slav nations and-no matter what you may hear-is likely to carry on doing so. The interesting thing, from an American point of view, is what holds the whole thing together. …