March 17, 2011
Europe Misses the TideThis month Europe missed a last opportunity to grow up. Libya was about as good a case as we will ever see of a hated little Generalissimo right under the soft underbelly of Europe, ready to be pushed out in favor of a better, if not perfect regime. Muammar Kaddafi only abandoned his nuclear program when Bush invaded Iraq, fearful of a self-confident America that wanted no maniacs with nuclear weapons in charge of Middle Eastern oil. But now Europe, which claims “peaceful superpower” status in the world, simply flinched and did nothing. Three European heads of state demanded that Kaddafi resign, and that old crook gave them all the high sign while bombing and strafing large numbers of civilians in the streets of Benghazi.When Europe was helpless after World War II during Stalin’s time, it was protected by the United States. We came to the rescue against Hitler and the Kaiser, and barely eked out a victory. But like the fabled Chinese tale where a kind rescuer is obligated forever to support a man or woman whose life he saved, we have gotten involved in “foreign entanglements” to protect a subcontinent of 330 million prosperous people who do not pay for their own defense, and who never face the difficult adult choices that a real foreign policy imposes upon civilized nations.As a result, Europe has become a continent of crybabies on welfare, the worst of all possible worlds, except for the devastation of war itself. It has cannibalized its military, so that its ability to exercise elementary self-defense keeps shrinking, and its dependence on foreign influxes of cheap labor and cheap votes from the Muslim world grows ever larger. In its lazy self-indulgence Europe is committing suicide, and its boastful claims to have solved the problems of war and peace forever sound ever more desperate and hollow. The demographics are now turning against the continent that gave rise to Western civilization, leaving the business of big power politics to the United States, China, Russia, and whatever emerges from the reactionary swing of the Middle East.And all because Sarkozy, Merkel and Cameron could not agree to send a few planes to control the skies over Libya.Obama was in his usual dithering mode, and Europe was no better. But Libya is sitting on Europe’s southern flank, and the EU now has 53 million increasingly radicalized Muslims imported by the Left as cheap voters, easily bought (for the moment) by welfare.Kaddafi is a domestic bully and tyrant, but he has also blown up a civilian airliner over Scotland, killed a London policewoman with sniper fire from the Libyan Embassy there, and aided Muslim terrorist groups in Africa and Europe. Without George W. Bush, Kaddafi would now be close to nuclear weapons, and in a year or two he will have them, just like Iran. That will make him untouchable.Like Saddam Hussein, the Saudis and Iran, Libya has used its oil to buy influence in the capitals of Europe and the United States — the most likely reason why the West has not been able to arouse itself from its impotent torpor after 9/11/01. Oil money has flooded the coffers of politically powerful lobbyists in Washington, D.C. and London, in Paris and Brussels. Former French President Jacques Chirac is once again facing trial in Paris, but we already know about the Oil-for-Food scandal that allowed Saddam Hussein to buy the Qai d’Orsay and UN Secretary General Kofi Anan. Europe used to be fairly free of corruption, but under the EU Machine, like the Chicago Democrats, politics is for sale. That means oil money is now more powerful in deciding Europe’s fate than all the voters combined. As Daniel Hannan points out, in the EU Parliament the members are elected but have no power to legislate, while the real ruling class never has to answer to the voters.Europe has given up on electoral government and is now putting up a phony front, like Vladimir Putin in Moscow. This is not, repeat not, an accident, and America’s political class is eying the EU with real envy. In the United States the left is constantly plotting a similar takeover of the judiciary, the bureaucracies, and ultimately the elected branch of government. That is the real reason for ObamaCare.Europe’s failure to take a stand on Libya therefore means a moment of opportunity that is lost forever. Obama could have chosen this moment to be decisive, but he is still vastly inexperienced and ideologically stuck in beliefs that lost any relevance with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Obama may be trying to revive the international left, but even Marxist presidents cannot reverse the tide of history. They can preen and bully their way around the stage for one or two terms, but when they leave, the tides of history come flooding back.When Ronald Reagan took over after the disastrous presidency of dithering Jimmy Carter, he was able to accomplish historic things. That is because he seized moments of opportunity, one after the next. The invasion of Granada looked like a peanuts operation at the time, but it set limits to Soviet expansionism in the Americas, and it restored the American military’s faith in itself. Reagan knocked down the air traffic controllers’ strike the instant he entered office, and Khomeini released American diplomats he had been holding for years. At the end of Reagan’s second term the Soviet Union had crumbled and Western civilization had reasserted itself through the remarkable efforts of three people: Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and John Paul II. It was a triumph of civilization against barbarity, and it did not happen by accident.Muammar Kaddafi is a moral midget, but he has one thing the West now lacks: He has the will to live and win. Using only his personal fanaticism and that of his followers he has turned the tables on a popular revolt that could have given legitimacy to a small Western intervention. The West could have kept influence in Libya by supporting the opposition and helping to rebuild the country, thereby holding back Islamic fascism and the quest for nukes. The West failed, and will now look on helplessly while events play out in their own remorseless way.We think we are immune to the forces of history, but history merely grins at our puny statesmen and rolls over us.“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which,
taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”
(Julius Caesar, Act 4, scene 3).
By James Lewis