Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Ex-Girlfriend

Mark Steyn makes an amazingly accurate assessment of the U.S. relationship with Europe:

But, in the broader sense vis-à-vis Europe, the administration is changing the tone precisely because it understands there can be no substance. And, if there's no substance that can be changed, what's to quarrel about? International relations are like ex-girlfriends: if you're still deluding yourself you can get her back, every encounter will perforce be fraught and turbulent; once you realise that's never gonna happen, you can meet for a quick decaf latte every six – make that 10 – months and do the whole hey-isn't-it-terrific-the-way-we're-able-to-be-such-great-friends routine because you couldn't care less. You can even make a few pleasant noises about her new romance (the so-called European Constitution) secure in the knowledge he's a total loser.

World leaders are always most expansive when there's least at stake: the Queen's Christmas message to the Commonwealth is the ne plus ultra of this basic rule. In Her Majesty's beloved Commonwealth family, talking about enduring ties became a substitute for having them.

That's the salient feature of transatlantic dialogue since 9/11: it's become Commonwealth-esque - all airy assertions about common values, ties of history, all meaningless. Even Donald Rumsfeld is doing it.

This is sad, but true. Although NATO will hang around for a while, Europe is old history now for us. Our external problems with Islamic fundamentalism are its internal problems (as Steyn indicates in the article). They just haven't figured that out yet.

Soon European states will be immersed in an internal battle that even if the U.S. wanted to, it would not be able to help them with--except insofar as our larger strategy to transform the Middle East into an enclave of democracy may ultimately be helpful.

Like the girl who dumped the guy because she felt she had a better deal with someone else; Europe may have to come to terms with its own opportunistic and fairly self-destructive psychology -- a psychology that has brought about a casual acceptance of the welfare state and the unrelenting pursuit of socialist economic and political solutions, despite their catastrophic local history-- before it can have a meaningful relationship with anyone, especially the U.S.

Meanwhile, we can remain "good friends". Let's do lunch.

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