It’s a good day at American Thinker. In one of my preceding posts, I quoted at length from Kyle-Anne Shiver’s article about Mike Huckabee. Now, I’m about to quote from Soeren Kern’s article about the reflexive anti-Americanism that characterizes Europe.
Kern’s starting point is Bill Clinton’s announcement that, if Hillary wins, he and George H.W. Bush will go on a whirlwind, worldwide tour convincing everyone that George Bush has been relegated to the dustbin of history and that America is willing to make nice again. (If this is really true insofar as Clinton is speaking for George H.W. Bush’s involvement, I really don’t think I can say enough bad things about George H.W. Bush, a man who would go around attacking his own son. I doubt it’s true, though.)
Kern starts off by pointing out what should be obvious to Bill Clinton, who claims to be a learned and intelligent man: Anti-Americanism predates George Bush, although there’s certainly been a resurgence during his administration. Kern goes through Spain, Germany and France for examples of anti-American sentiment that existed decades or even centuries before Bush’s presidency.
The more important point that Kern makes, though, is that Europe’s anti-Americanism is, as one might expect, as much a product of envy as anything else. And, really, you can’t blame the Europeans, because it’s extremely human to want to take down a peg, or to dislike, someone or something that has the power and wealth you really think should belong to you:
As political realists like Thucydides (c 460-395 BC) might have predicted, anti-Americanism is also a visceral reaction against the current distribution of global power. America commands a level of economic, military and cultural influence that leaves many around the world envious, resentful and even angry and afraid. Indeed, most purveyors of anti-Americanism will continue to bash America until the United States is balanced or replaced (by those same anti-Americans, of course) as the dominant actor on the global stage.
In Europe, for example, where self-referential elites are pathologically obsessed with their perceived need to “counter-balance” the United States, anti-Americanism is now the dominant ideology of public life. In fact, it is no coincidence that the spectacular rise in anti-Americanism in Europe has come at precisely the same time that the European Union, which often struggles to speak with one voice, has been trying to make its political weight felt both at home and abroad.
In their quest to transform Europe into a superpower capable of challenging the United States, European elites are using anti-Americanism to forge a new pan-European identity. This artificial post-modern European “citizenship”, which demands allegiance to a faceless bureaucratic superstate based in Brussels instead of to the traditional nation-state, is being set up in opposition to the United States. To be “European” means (nothing more and nothing less than) to not be an American.
Because European anti-Americanism has much more to do with European identity politics than with genuine opposition to American foreign policy, European elites do not really want the United States to change. Without the intellectual crutch of anti-Americanism, the new “Europe” would lose its raison d’être.
That’s the reality behind anti-Americanism, and one that has nothing to do with George Bush. He’s just the latest rhetorical device in the European’s never-ending sense that they can elevate themselves, not by improving themselves, but by knocking America. Behind this psychological reality, though, lurks a real danger:
Anti-Americanism is (at least for the foreseeable future) a zero-sum game because the main purveyors of anti-Americanism are in denial about the dangers facing the world today. They believe the United States is the problem and that their vision for a post-modern socialist multicultural utopia is the answer. Never mind that most Europeans do not have enough faith in their own model to want to pass it on to the next generation.
This is the dilemma America faces: If it wants to be popular abroad, it will have to pay in terms of reduced security. And if it determines to protect the American way of life from global threats, then it will have to pay in terms of reduced popularity abroad.
But if America loses out against the existential threats posed by global terrorism and fundamentalist Islam, then the issue of America’s international image will be moot.
Better, therefore, if the next president focuses on keeping America strong and secure, rather than on pleasing those who will never like the United States, even if its foreign policy changes.
Better, also, for the next president to focus on wielding American power wisely, because doing so will earn the United States (grudging) respect, which in the game of unstable relationships that characterizes modern statecraft, is far more important than love.