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Bashing European "cowardice"

by das monde Mon Aug 22nd, 2005 at 09:28:23 AM EST

Promoted from the diaries ~ whataboutbob

Just recently, the Axel Springer CEO Mathias Doepfner wrote an article Europe, Thy Name is Cowardice. It is an example of the US-reactionary-type of debasement rhetoric, where European Iraq policy is shamelessly irresponsible or welfare system evidently collapsing, whereas Bush's Iraq war or economy measures are always right regardless dismal consequences. There has to be European version of this drivel, and here it is.

The beginning of the article is historically sound, but extrapolations are voluntarily prejudiced.

The writer Henryk Broder recently issued a withering indictment: "Europe, your family name is Appeasement." That phrase resonates because it is so terribly true. Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives as England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated too long before they realized that Hitler needed to be fought and defeated, because he could not be bound by toothless agreements.

The author then typifies the appeasement with the examples of Cold War policies towards Eastern Europe, and Yugoslavia's violent collapse. Then he says
Europe still hasn't learned its lesson. Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle East, European appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," often seems to countenance suicide bombings in Israel by fundamentalist Palestinians. Similarly, it generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore the nearly 500,000 victims of Saddam's torture and murder machinery and, motivated by the self-righteousness of the peace movement, to harangue George W. Bush as a warmonger.

Let's stop here for a moment to consider historical perspective. The history did not start with 1930's. European states had followed primeval military instincts for centuries; that culminated in the total absurdity of the First World War. Meanwhile, some countries (like Dutch/Flemish or Scandinavian) already knew experience that avoiding war generally works out most nicely, to put it simply.

We may agree that peace lessons were over-learned for the World War II. That appeasement was shameful indeed.  The only excuse is that Hitler and Stalin were quantitively new historical phenomena, which were not entirely easy to figure out in a decade.

But the old war lessons still remain. What kind of toothed opposition from Europe should have been expected against the USSR? What would have been the consequences? Was the post-war Soviet regime exceptionally immoral? That part of history is justified both for the USA and Western Europe by the actual power balance.

The "appeasement" regarding Bosnia and Kosovo is of different kind, I would say. First of all, it is inadequacy of European and diplomatic bureaucracies. This problem has to be solved as yet. In the meantime, the things in Rwanda and Darfur are no less terrible. But neither US nor UN can do anything.

"Protecting democracy in the Middle East" is a flimsy description of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Internally, both sides are comparably democratic. European position is vague. At it core, it opposes total repression of Palestinian goals. But Palestinians do not figure alternatives to suicide bombings. Europe's failure is not of Chamberlainian proportions.

When it comes to Iraq, European judgment is better than of the Bush administration. Aging Saddam Hussein was not a global threat. He was not emphatically connected to 9/11, if at all. The Iraq war did not solve the terrorism problem, but most probably worsened it. Now, it is not Europe responsible that Saddam's regime is replaced by terrorist mess, fundamentalist strivings and compromised women rights.

It is not true that Europe failed with appeasement again. The Hitler situation applies neither to Saddam Hussein, nor to George W. Bush. Europe did use some courage and power to oppose reckless Bush decisions. Maybe future historians will accuse Europe that this opposition was not firm enough, who knows.

Further down, Doepfner's article becomes less coherent.

Today we are faced with a particularly grotesque form of appeasement. How is Germany reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic fundamentalists in Holland, Britain, and elsewhere in Europe? By suggesting - wait for it - that the proper response to such barbarism is to initiate a "Muslim holiday" in Germany.

What is then the proper response? New crusades? Thanks, Europe has enough credit for them. Counting objectively, Islamic "barbarism" is not that much abundant in Europe. With all sympathy and respect, the bombings in Madrid and London are more related to US lead invasions than to European "resignation". Tension in Belgium arises more from Vlams Blok initiative. The tolerance tone in the Netherlands was first abruptly changed by the late Pim Fortuyn; the recently murdered Theo van Gogh was a provoking personality as well. (I heard a cynical formulation that see, the Dutch fight intolerance well.) That does not mean that Dutch (or German, etc.) integration policies do not deserve critique or ridicule. But this is an indication that rightist concerns about immigration are exaggerated or poorly expressed.

What atrocity must occur before the European public and its political leadership understands what is really happening in the world? There is a sort of crusade underway - an especially perfidious campaign consisting of systematic attacks by Islamists, focused on civilians, that is directed against our free, open Western societies, and that is intent upon their utter destruction.

This is pathetic. Facts support different views how coordinated or widely supported the Islamic terrorism is. But one clear source of excessive aggression is the current US administration. Just as appeasement, aggression has consequences, unintended as well. When the strongest player exercises its power without respect and regard of others, the disadvantaged may feel free to use whatever powers they have without any constraints. This is not justification of terrorism, just an observation of how moral standards may develop. Terrorists must be found and prosecuted or killed. But it is reasonable to be aware of people which disagree with us or even hate us, which nevertheless wish to live normally, yet may join the pool of potential terrorists under ignorant circumstances. Unjustified aggression feeds terrorism more than naive pacification.

Only two recent American presidents have had the courage needed to shun appeasement: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. America's critics may quibble over the details, but in our hearts we Europeans know the truth, because we saw it first hand. Reagan ended the Cold War, freeing half of Europe from nearly 50 years of terror and slavery. And President Bush, acting out of moral conviction and supported only by the social democrat Tony Blair, recognized the danger in today's Islamist war against democracy.

It is a strange suggestion that fate of whole civilization clings on lucky election of two "courageous" presidents. More interestingly, let us superpose a few notions and ask ourselves: How did Reagan deal with Islamic terrorists? Did Bush recognize the danger of Islamic terrorism prior 9/11?

The answers spoil the idealistic "courageous" picture. Ronald Reagan eagerly supported and sponsored bin Laden, Taliban, and also Saddam Hussein. Too eagerly perhaps? All modern terrorism starts with Reagan, it seems. On his turn, George W. Bush did nothing about al Quaeda before 9/11/2001, although on 8/6/2001 he was specifically briefed Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States. Apparently, Bush ignored warnings of outgoing president Bill Clinton and security advisor Clarke about "by far the biggest threat Bin Ladin and the al Qaeda". This is not a question of motives, but of responsibility. Aggression has consequences, doesn't it?

In the meantime, Europe sits back in the multi-cultural corner with its usual blithe self-confidence. Instead of defending liberal values and acting as an attractive center of power on the same playing field as the true great powers, America and China, it does nothing. <...>

Where does this self-satisfied reaction come from? Does it arise because we are so moral?

I fear that it stems from the fact that we Europeans are so materialistic, so devoid of a moral compass. For his policy of confronting Islamic terrorism head on, Bush risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of additional national debt, and a massive and persistent burden on the American economy. But he does this because, unlike most of Europe, he realizes that what is at stake is literally everything that really matters to free people.

Nice try to blend Bush's failures with "risking everything for confronting Islamic terrorism". But the pessimism about civilization's vulnerability is disappointing. Are we so wrong to have confidence that terrorism won't prevail, unless we ourselves completely disregard anyone's pain just like terrorists? (And when did China become a great democratic or anti-terrorist power?)

We have to end up with morality and cowardice. It is the opposite of cowardice to stand by your judgment when it appears right. A moral compass is the following: taking care of mutual understanding, of healthy global environment (whatever that may mean) and taking responsibility of your actions (and some inactions, right). Taking no care does not look particularly moral.

Well written, good analysis and pleasant to read. The timing is essential for rebuttal to these Bush impersonations within Europe.

Their analogies are lame, only in historic context their attacks are part of a xenophobic pattern: blame minorities and strangers for our own failed leadership to new challenges.

Bush and Company rely on cold war thinking and policies to create enemies where there are none, and fail to combat the true problem: OBL, AQ leaders and the Taliban. Real shit as*** for taking the world community to the brink of new wars.

The creation of the European Union has cut off the heads of the dragon that stirred its tail for many wars.

Thank goodness there are brave persons like Cindy Sheehan.


'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 05:27:39 AM EST
Thanks for this detailed rebuttal.

When you look at the thread that "commented" on my WSJ article:


you see that the level of comments rarely goes above that of the invesctive or the certitude that we are cowards, liars and our arguments should not even be listened to. It's a bit discouraging.

So recommended for making the effort, even if in all likelihood it won't convince anyone on the "other side".

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 06:03:08 AM EST
At dailykos.com I am known as ray z :-)
by das monde on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 06:36:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very often, bully is the only arument of right wing nuts. This is reminiscent to terrorism: terrorists do not know any means of getting what they wish, only blowing up. So perhaps we should help those debaters to find and love intelligent arguments. Of course, generally we should try to win, but on particular occassions we may go softer if they use a legitimate point :-)
by das monde on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 08:09:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great job, "Euro cowardice" is one of those big narrative memes that SusanG diarised about. Drawing from her diary, the big challenge for progressives it to

a) Challenge the bad stories, bravo to you for doing so here.

b) Develop some different stories. In particular, I think that we are all still living with a failure to really get a true picture of Reagan out there. Thus, the hero worship continues. It may also be that we need to think of stories of "Euro bravery" although that is a complex one...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 07:18:03 AM EST
      ~ Posted at BooMan Tribune ~


Bush Ship Sinking


Tables turned - Rudy Giuliani's RNC Speech
So terrorists learned they could intimidate the world community and too often the response, particularly in Europe, was "accommodation, appeasement and compromise."

And worse the terrorists also learned that their cause would be taken more seriously, almost in direct proportion to the barbarity of the attack.

Terrorist acts became a ticket to the international bargaining table.

Gulliani again equating Palestinian terror from the seventies and the Intifadah of 2000 to present, to Al Qaeda terrorism and OBL according to the Likud propaganda machine after 9/11.

Must listen to interview of G man ::

Future US Foreign Policy ◊  An Insight From Men of Power
G. Gordon Liddy Interviews Bibi Netanyahu [WMP]
22 October 2001 -- The G Man in Israel


'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Aug 22nd, 2005 at 04:10:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe's image problem, that of being seen as appeasers and cowards, is going to take a while longer to live down.  In the greater scheme of things, the early-mid 20th century was not so long ago.  Words like "Holocaust" "purges" and "Vichy" still send cold chills up the spines of many.  

Don't get me wrong, I don't think having a certain reputation or trying to correct past mistakes can excuse any Europeans who choose to join Bush's reactionary "war on terror."  And those who do so will probably be judged ironically by history ... as appeasers and lackeys of the Bush Administration.

And like our Democrats, Europe can choose to go along the bully path of Bush, but know that it will be judged by different standards.  That is, even though they supported him, the Democrats and Tony Blair are still seen as cowards.  

Europe might not achieve the reputation of being the fierce, brave warlords of years gone by anytime soon.  But looking at the instability around the world, it is in the unique position of becoming the touchstone for cool-headed, pragmatic, smart policy.  Let the rest of the world fight over the title of "BadAss."  Meanwhile concentrate on diplomacy, intelligence, education and prosperity and your chances of suffering another vast takeover by extremists will be greatly diminished.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 10:42:22 AM EST
Per the reactionaries, Europe did it too well.

What strange new world, that has such hang-ups in it.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 09:09:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I will go out on a limb here to ask for help with the following. This page
is obviously sponsored by someone with a "viewpoint."

But there are listed here extracts from newspaper articles about significant problems in Sweden with immigrants. For example: "Malmo, Sweden. The police now publicly admit what many Scandinavians have known for a long time: They no longer control the situation in the nations's third largest city. It is effectively ruled by violent gangs of Muslim immigrants. Some of the Muslims have lived in the area of Rosengard, Malmo, for twenty years, and still don't know how to read or write Swedish."

Are these fair translations of mainstream newspapers? Or is this just one hack quoting another hack?

Is the failure to "do something" about this sort of thing an example of European cowardice?

Can someone offer a fair description of the immigrant situation in Europe? What leads to such racial hatred that guys like Le Pen can have successful political parties? America has not had an openly racist presidential candidate since George Wallace in the 1960s, but Europe has ultra-right-wing parties and skinheads in the newspaper frequently. What is really going on?

by asdf on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 11:16:04 AM EST
What is really going on, asdf, is that you are posting trollier and trollier crap comments. Falsely naive questions. Lousy unsubstantiated quotes that don't mean a damn thing and that you know don't mean a damn thing. Oh dear me how hard it is for me to understand...

Tell me. Do you understand the article excerpted above by  das monde? Do you understand the importance, the level in the press hierarchy, of the person who wrote it? Do you agree with it? Does it seem to you to draw a correct portrait of what George W Bush's America is doing, of what Europe is doing, of the world situation? Can't you address yourself to that?

Let's see you grow a brain and stop waving around the shitty little bugs you spend your time digging out from under slimy rocks.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 03:59:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know what you mean - quoting what is obviously a extreme-right Israeli website is certainly not the best way to start a discussion about Muslims in Europe, and this thread was not really the place for it (it could have been if that question had been linked to the text being discussed), but the topic itself is valid, and asdf has made a number of substantive commetns elsewhere.

Can I suggest to asdf that s/he prepare a diary on that topic?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 06:37:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right, that is not a good post.
by asdf on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 09:31:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Western cities suffer from many criminal gangs: Turkish, Serbian, Russian, Romanian, whatever. I don't see it as a particularly Muslim problem. It is not very productive to stress that aspect. Immigrants with the same background tend to stick together, and sometimes behave like criminal groups. It is more like economic barbarism than religious or national stand.
by das monde on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 07:59:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And even more to the point, the immigrants, the illegal ones, were transported by gangs, stay under the control of the gangs when they arrive and are afraid of the police.

We have problems here with this sort of crap, and it's almost always organised crime from within the ethnic groups committing crimes against members of the ethnic groups. We had some Chinese kidnapping rings that seemed terribly surprised when the police came after them: they didn't expect anyone to care.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 22nd, 2005 at 06:02:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In some strange way this reminds me of this old post on my own blog http://www.fransgroenendijk.nl/reactieding.php?id=431_0_1_0_C
"European cowards support Bush"

    ...Save democracy from direct elections
by FransGroenendijk on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 09:07:12 PM EST
So long as the United States alternates between sponsoring single-partisan dictatorships and monarchies, it's difficult to see how that's even possible.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)
by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 09:07:55 PM EST
I had a very difficult time reading past this sentence at the beginning of your post.  Please note the part in bold:

Just recently, the Axel Springer CEO Mathias Doepfner wrote an article Europe, Thy Name is Cowardice. It is an example of the US reactionary type of debasement rhetoric...

Look, I know what you are trying to say here, but what I truly resent is a kneejerk tendency to generalize American sentiment.  It's the same thing I saw right after the election:  people wrote diary after diary on dailyKos bashing the "red states", because "they voted for Bush".

I am from a red state.  I did not vote for Bush.

That's the analogy I see here, i.e. I do not appreciate your "it is an example of the US reactionary type of debasement rhetoric".

All of the US is like that?

I think not.

With all due respect, I think you should adjust your thinking about Americans.

It's an excellent post, but you pretty much diluted whatever point you were trying to make by typing that one phrase.

by Plutonium Page (page dot vlinders at gmail dot com) on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 09:59:19 PM EST
I see your point. In my mind, "US reactionary" is one word. I do not separate "US" and "reactionary". The meaning of isolated words are not very much related to  intended meaning of the whole phrase. But I understand your sentiment. I made an attempt to diffuse unintended implications.
by das monde on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 10:14:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What are you claiming there? New Mexico is not really red, is it? It was split right down the middle, and the final results were never known because by then it did not matter anymore... ;)

And as to you not voting for Bush, I still have my doubts... With such a name, you must be part of the militaro-industrial complex - red red red!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 22nd, 2005 at 03:01:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose I just interpret remarks like those to be in reference to our govt & media not to the American people in general.

Yeah, I would certainly hope that everyone here understands that not all Americans, not even the majority of Americans, are reactionary, or any other ugly stereotype that is out there.  Of course, it is also difficult to ask the world not to judge us by our leaders when half the voters in the country supported the idiot...

...Isn't NM more of a purplish state? ;)  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Mon Aug 22nd, 2005 at 09:42:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
more or less purple?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 22nd, 2005 at 09:55:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's your Purple America.   I live in a large urban area on a very blue island, which is surrounded by a vast red sea.  (Where's Moses when you need him?)  So yes, we are actually purple, but recorded as a "red" state in the sense that the electoral votes went to HRH Bush.
by caldonia on Mon Aug 22nd, 2005 at 11:45:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, caldonia. I remember seeing this after the election. A lot of people found it a more accurate picture than blue states, red states.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 22nd, 2005 at 11:55:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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