Sunday, February 20, 2005
The entire "Trans atlantic Split: Chirac Aghast At Blundering Yank Moron Shock!" vs "Transatlantic Rapprochement: Rumsfeld Gives Tongue Sarnie To Schröder – See Souvenir Pictorial" narrative is wholly post-modern: either way, it makes no difference. That suits Europe; the Kyoto Treaty makes no difference to global warming, the EU negotiating troika makes no difference to Iran's nuclear programme, the threat of an ICC subpoena makes no difference to the Sudanese government's mass slaughter programme – and Washington has concluded that a Europe that makes no difference suits it just fine, too....
The Washington Post's Fred Hiatt compared the President's inaugural speech with Gerhard Schröder's keynote address to the Munich Conference on Security Policy last week and observed that, while both men talked about the Middle East, terrorism and 21st-century security threats, Mr Bush used the word "freedom" 27 times while Herr Schröder uttered it not once; he preferred to emphasise, as if it were still March 2003 and he were Arab League Secretary-General, "stability" – the old realpolitik fetish the Administration has explicitly disavowed. It's not just that the two sides aren't speaking the same language, but that the key phrases of Mr Bush's vocabulary don't seem to exist in Chirac's or Schröder's.
The differences between America and Europe in the 21st century are nothing to do with insensitive swaggering Texas cowboys. Indeed, they're nothing to do with Iraq, Iran, Kyoto, the International Criminal Court, or any other particular issue. They're not tactical differences, they're conceptual.
Europeans have sacrificed everything -- economic growth, freedom of contract, fluid labor markets, national sovereignty, their own fertility -- all in the service of stability. It would be ironic if the greatest threat to that costly stability weren't the United States with its muscular foreign policy and Darwinian economy, but the uncontested ascendency of Islamic fascism. Not that it makes a difference.