December 30, 2003


Europe and the US: Lost in translation (Bret Stephens, Dec. 26, 2003, Jerusalem Post)

Across the Straits of Gibraltar, along every side of the Italian boot, the Middle East literally laps on Europe's shores. In America, Muslims constitute fewer than one percent of the population, according to a 2001 survey. In much of Europe, the figure exceeds 12%, and growing fast. For America, the Middle East is a place that generates oil and terrorists, both of which pose potential strategic threats. For Europe, the Middle East is a place that generates hordes of destitute people, who pose an existential one.

No wonder, then, that Europe looks with skepticism on US efforts to bring democracy to Iraq: It remembers what democracy almost brought Algeria in 1992. No wonder Europe was willing to countenance Saddam Hussein: Who else could have held that fractious country together? No wonder Europe wants to give the Palestinians a state, and quickly: What else so inflames Muslim sentiments on their own streets? No wonder no French government was ever going to go along with an unpopular American war on an Arab country: Even Bush might have thought twice if Arab-Americans were as numerous in Florida as they are in Michigan.

None of this is to say that Europeans are necessarily right on the issues. It is to say that European motives aren't so pleasingly divorced from the realities of the Hobbesian world as many observers, particularly in Israel and the US, seem to believe. The truth is that Europe generally operates according to a fairly hardboiled view of the world and its place within it; the course it has pursued for decades has been steady and consistent.

Here too we see that demographics determines policy and national futures.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 30, 2003 10:14 AM

If Europe's policies were so "hardboiled", they wouldn't have let themselves get into this pickle in the first place.

Posted by: Twn at December 30, 2003 10:44 AM

In the continuum (or is that dichotomy?) between fighting and fleeing, I imagine that there's room for hardboiled (i.e., not mushy) appeasers.

We see it in the US too. The fanatical, the militant, the ardent, the vicious, the bombastic (together, to be sure, with the articulate, the thoughtful, the rational sounding, the measured toned) supporters of surrender.

Hard boiled surrender

Posted by: Barry Meislin at December 30, 2003 11:03 AM

Were the Europeans really hardboiled, the Muslims would now be taken care of in extermination camps. That's the European way of dealing with undesirable minorities. It'll probably come to that anyway (let's not forget that the French were allies of Milosevic too, when he was committing his genocide on Bosnian Muslims).

Posted by: Peter at December 30, 2003 11:03 AM

The Europeans have had no problems killing Jews, but killing Muslims (outside of Serbia) probably won't happen - not in the least because there will be return fire.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 30, 2003 12:30 PM

I don't think that the Muslim minority is sufficiently big to impact on European politics yet. In my view the main problem is the media monopoly that prevents the espousal of ideas different from that espoused by the European elite.

The fear used to be that of government controlling the media, but I think these days it is the media controlling the channel of ideas and hence the government. For example if you are against the European Union, then you are instantly labelled as a xenophobe. If you are against the actions of the Palestinians you are a Zionist. If you support the overthrow of Saddam Hussein you are a Nazi and if you believe in a traditional Christian God you're a nutcase.

So you can see that President Bush is instantly labelled a Nazi, Zionist, xenophopic nutcase. Any European politician with similar views would not get any political coverage other than being derided with those epithers. That's the main difference between European and US politics.

Posted by: A at December 30, 2003 1:13 PM

In "Clash of Civilizations," Huntington proposed that in a globalized world, the pressure of havenots on haves would result in huge migrations. He also proposed that as Africa got closer to the 19th century, it would be easier for Africans to emigrate. So, to him, it wasn't just a Muslim thing.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 30, 2003 3:55 PM