The behavior of our erstwhile European allies (and cultural kinsmen) has always been a puzzle to Americans.
The latest contretemps with Europe over the war on terror speaks volumes about how two peoples look at the same set of facts but arrive at wildly differing conclusions. John O’Sullivan has analyzed our anxiety over the Europeans in the National Review. His primary point is our exposure to the European world view is limited to official views. Not so much that Americans are naive self centered cowboys, but what we see, hear and read are the pronouncements of the European ruling class, a self selected and elected elite; in other words a class of people. O’Sullivan concludes there is more sympathy and understanding of America among the average Tom in Birmingham or Hans in Frankfurt. He’s probably correct. In the wake of 911 the European police forces arrested dozens of plotters who intended to bomb a diverse collection of embassies, parliaments and national monuments. Being a potential target should sharpen the survival instincts.
What Americans can not fathom is how a continent steeped in the blood of millions could be so obtuse in the face of a direct threat. The 20th century was an object lesson to the world that mad men and tyrants must be opposed when they are still small and weak. The price of appeasement was elegantly summed up by Winston Churchill in his epitaph on Chamberlain’s actions at Munich, "…the government had to choose between war and shame. They chose shame. They will get war, too." Such clear sightedness is sorely lacking in modern and sophisticated Europe. The voices of modern European "enlightenment" are nearly indistinguishable from the discredited equivocations of leaders like Daladier and Halifax.
It is past the time of choosing for Europe. They can join us and work with us to accomplish our goals through multi lateral diplomacy backed with robust military force, or they can rush to conciliate the Butcher of Baghdad. Regardless of their choice, America will pursue its own interests.