[I]n the late 80s and early 90s, Western Europe was at the top of its economic and social performance. Western Europeans were then almost as affluent as the Americans and, so, some could console themselves with the appearance that the whole thing wasn’t basically an American victory, but rather a Western one - and that Europe would anyway soon eclipse the USA.(via Instapundit)
For Western Europe however, the next 15 years were a unidirectional stroll down the slope. It became less and less competitive compared to the US and both high levels of unemployment and low growth rates came to stay. And the growing, alienated, Muslim minorities didn’t become any more assimilated in the meanwhile. But, on the other hand, Bill Clinton asking non-stop the world to forgive his country’s sins and his reluctance to take decisive action after many terrorist attacks projected a re-comforting image of a repentant, humbled and weakened America.
Those whom the fall of the Berlin Wall had left orphans of a cause, spent the next decade plotting the containment of the US. It was a complex operation that involved the (in many cases state-sponsored) mushrooming of NGOs, Kyoto, the creation of the ICC, the salami tactics applied against America’s main strategic ally in the Middle-East, Israel, through the Trojan Horse of the Oslo agreements, the subversion of the sanctions against Iraq etc. I’m not as conspiratorially-minded as to think that all these efforts were in any way centralized or that they had some kind of master-plan behind them. It was above all the case of the spirit of the times converging, through many independent manifestations, towards a single goal. Nonetheless we can be sure that, after those manifestations reached a critical mass, there has been no lack of efforts to coordinate them.
And so, spontaneously up to a point, anti-Americanism became the alternative ideology that came to fill in the vacuum left by the failure of traditional, USSR-based communism and its Maoist or Trotskyite satellites. Before 1989, the global left had something to fight for: either the strengthening of the communist states or the correction of what they called their bureaucratic distortions. To fight for something is simultaneously to fight against whatever threatens it, and thus, the leftists were anti-Western and anti-Americans too, anti-capitalistic in short.
Now, whatever they wanted to defend or protect doesn’t exist anymore. They have only things to destroy, and all those things are personified in the US, in its very existence. They may, outwardly, fight for some positive cause: save the whales, rescue the world from global heating and so on. But let’s not be deceived by this: they choose as their so-called positive causes only the ones that have both the potential of conferring some kind of innocent legitimacy on themselves and, much more important, that of doing most harm to their enemy, whether physically or to its image.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Nelson Ascher encapsulates the manner by which the most recent spate of anti-Americanism among Europeans has reached a crescendo. He traces it back to the fall of the Berlin Wall.