Nothing is quite
as surreal as the Islamic world’s fury at the liberal and
innocuous Danes. How could anyone wish to burn their embassies
and kill their citizens, when they have always offered all the
politically correct, multicultural platitudes and welcomed in
any and all from the Middle East?
Now the furor over
the cartoons, coming on the heels of the bombings in Madrid and
London, the French rioting, the murders in Holland, and the failed
European negotiations with the Iranian theocracy have shaken Europe
to its foundations.
If the most liberal
and tolerant states in Europe such as Holland and Denmark have
the most problems with Islamic radicals, then what does that say
about the continent as a whole? Why were not the calculating jihadists
singling out a more unapologetic Catholic Poland that has larger
contingents in Iraq and is far prouder of its Christian roots?
Do the Europeans sense
that the more open, free-wheeling and non-judgmental the culture,
the more it is hated by the jihadists? If Europe as a whole is
more pro-Palestinian than the United States, disapproved of Iraq,
and yet is still hated as much, is magnanimity at last exposed
as appeasement—earning only contempt from an emboldened
however, for any overt expression of alarm. It is too much to
ask of the European Union for now to go on the record supporting
the right of Danish free expression or to demand an embargo of
Iran as it approaches nuclear autonomy. Instead, expect the European
reaction to be far more subtle: the same old public utopian rhetoric,
but in the shadows a newfound desire to galvanize against the
threat of Islamic fascism.
Here is what
we can probably anticipate. First will come a radical departure
from past immigration practices. Islam will be praised; the Middle
East assured that Europe is tolerant—but very few newcomers
from across the Mediterranean let in.
There will be continued
public furor over the American efforts in Iraq, but far greater
secret efforts to coordinate with the United States—in everything
from isolating the Assad regime in Syria to rethinking missile
defense. For the past three years the post-colonial Europeans
have wished the Americans to learn their imperial lessons by failing
in Iraq. Yet it may well be that many in private will now wish
us to succeed, if only in the hopes that such Middle East democracies
will be less likely in the future to turn loose their mobs to
burn European embassies and threaten their citizens.
We won’t see
much public condemnation of Hamas, but more likely quiet efforts
to pull the plug slowly on subsidies for such terrorists. The
Europeans praised Arafat, then learned that he was singularly
corrupt. Nothing disturbs a European more than to be swindled
and damned as immoral in the process. Subsidies to Jew-hating
Hamas terrorists only ensure both.
Europe will still
talk about bringing Turkey into the fold of the West, but de facto
is horrified at the thought that millions of a religion that empowers
so many to go berserk over a few cartoons might soon comprise
the most populous nation of Europe. I doubt any European diplomat
will invest any political capital at all in restarting in earnest
Turkish/European Union talks.
We can also look
forward to more bizarre pronouncements such as Jacques Chirac’s
warning about the French nuclear deterrent. In point of fact,
Europe has no real defenses against a 9/11-like attack. They know
it. So do the terrorists.
Crash an airliner
into the dome of St. Peter’s or knock down the Eiffel Tower
tomorrow: Europe has no mechanism to hunt down the perpetrators
in the Hindu Kush, the Bekka Valley, or the wilds of Iran—much
less, like the United States, to hold a rogue regime responsible.
Frustrated by its
lack of military resources, but cognizant of the classical need
to warn an enemy that more is to be lost than won from starting
a war, France is reduced to bluster about nuclear weapons—threats
that probably are either not believed or welcomed by the jihadists.
In lieu of a credible military, Europe will send more tiny contingents
to Afghanistan, remind the world that Britain and France are nuclear,
and somehow hurry up to construct a conventional deterrent where
there is now none at all.
Finally, the Europeans
who despised the unilateral and preemptory George Bush will start
to grate at his new multilateral side even more. Be careful what
you wish for, especially when an American leader may now not necessarily
be such an easy target of caricature—or may not always do
the dirty work of fighting jihadists from Pakistan to the Sunni
Instead, by letting
the Europeans take the lead with the Iranian negotiations, and
keeping nearly silent about the cartoon hysteria, the United States
essentially has told the Europeans, “Here is the sort of
restrained sober and judicious global diplomacy that you so welcome.”
Because of slated
troop withdrawals from European bases, and a new American weariness
with the old anti-Americanism, some Europeans are beginning to
recoil at the idea that they might well be on their own—and
in a war against fanatical enemies that they have appeased and
without rational friends that they have estranged.
In response, we may
see less of the anti-American rhetoric and a return to the Cold
War slogans of a “strong Atlantic Alliance” and “an
essential Nato,” as nuclear jihadists replace the fear of
300 Soviet divisions.
So now Europe is being
thrust right into the middle of the so-called war against Islamic
fascism. Once threatened, it will either react with a newly acquired
Churchillian maturity to protect its civilization, or cave, in
hopes that even more Chamberlain-type appeasement will satisfy
It should be a fascinating
Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and
author of A
War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian
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