We seek to project the message that there are rules to which all nations
are subject. America has a simpler message: kill Americans, and you're
By George, I think he's got it!
Her citizens do not see her as one country among many but as nonpareil,
the biggest, the best, the one-and-only: final judge of her own
interests and a pretty fair judge of what's good for the rest of us too.
None of this is inconsistent with a strong sense of justice: a sense of
justice characterises America at home and abroad, but it will be their
justice and they will be the arbiters. Nor is it inconsistent with a
wish to do good abroad: no people have shown such a consistently
generous ambition to make our world a better place.
But their help will be given ex gratia and its terms dictated by them.
America will save the planet if America must, and it will pay the piper:
but it will then call the tune. A negotiated process of cooperation is
not what America has in mind.
Yes, that's about right. But let's look at why that might be, shall we?
Ninety years ago, the United States was pretty much isolationist. Wilson
was reelected in 1916 on the slogan, "He kept us out of the war."
But the Europeans got themselves bogged down in stalemate, and
slaughtered millions of their men to no avail. It got so bad that the
French Army mutinied and refused to make any more attacks, because the
individual soldiers were tired of getting butchered. The only answer for
France and England seemed to be to get the US into the war, adding its
contribution of treasure and ***. And that was done, and Germany and
Austria were defeated, and American shook everyone's hand and came home.
"And we won't come home 'til it's over, over there!" That was one of the
songs that our soldiers sang as they went to war. And they thought it
was over, and came home, and within 20 years those blasted "old"
countries in Europe were tearing each other to shreds again. And again
we had to go "over there" and help straighten the mess out. And again it
cost us *** and money, only a hell of a lot more of it the second
time. A half million American men died in the war, and fewer than fifty
of them were killed by enemy action within the 48 states of the Union.
The only direct military attacks on the United States were a handful of
instances where Japanese
submarines shelled the coasts of Oregon and California. (Note that
Hawaii and Alaska were not yet states. It's also noteworthy that it was
a Japanese attack which brought the US into the war, but the US applied
70% of its might to the European theater.)
And after the war it was clear that the European nations couldn't take
care of themselves. (Fool me twice.) Old they might be; some might even
say senile. Whatever it was, left to themselves they'd start fighting
yet again if we went home. So the United States occupied Western Europe.
(And the Europeans welcomed the occupation, because they also knew that
they couldn't keep themselves from fighting again. The running joke then
was that the purpose of NATO was to keep the Americans in, the Russians
out and the Germans down.)
Who is most responsible for the EC? Ready for an arrogant self-centered
American answer? We are. The United States occupied Western Europe and
imposed the longest interval of peace there in the last 600 years, and
let the nations there know that the US wouldn't tolerate any more
fighting between them. For fifty years, Germany and the UK and France
and Italy have been allies with each other, because the US said so. For
most of that interval the US had more than a million men in Western
Europe, with the stated purpose of keeping the USSR out, and the
unspoken purpose of keeping the Western Europeans from fighting each
other. Had any of those nations gotten feisty with each other (as they
had been doing for the last thousand years), they were going to have to
answer to us.
So they got their peace, imposed on them by the US. (Maybe that explains
their fascination with peacekeepers, and our disillusionment with them.)
And now they're used to living together; and for the first time since
Charlemagne they're uniting. It remains to be seen whether it will work.
And the US came out of that with a deep distrust of European wisdom and
European advice. No matter how much older and wiser they claimed to be,
they hadn't managed to do what we had ourselves: unite a huge area under
a single government and live without war. We fought our Civil War, but
that was 140 years ago and we've mastered living together ever since.
And it took our meddling and our military occupation to make them live
together without war.
We're not interested in listening to European advice because the
Europeans have proved that their advice is worthless. We had to clean up
their act, and indeed we are still occupying Europe and still
guaranteeing the peace there. We are still "over there" because it isn't
"over, over there" even now. (The USSR no longer exists and there is no
longer a threat of invasion; we're still there to keep the Western
European nations from fighting each other.)
We gave Europe one chance, after WWI, to dictate their own terms and the
result was another ***y war. So the second time, we did call the tune
-- and the result was a hell of a lot better. If we think that we are,
as he puts it, "a pretty fair judge of what's good for the rest of [the
world], too" then it's because we've proved it. We have been far from
perfect, but we did a hell of a lot better job than the Europeans
But that's because we are willing to try the unconventional. For
example: after WWI, France insisted that Germany, with its ruined
economy, pay drastic reparations to France. The result was hyper
inflation, collapse of the Weimar Republic, and the rise of the Nazi
If there is a more misbegotten "peace" treaty in history than the Treaty
of Versailles, I sure don't know what it is. It's difficult to imagine
how it could possibly have been worse than it was.
So after WWII, the United States tried a different approach: the
Marshall Plan, and NATO. Instead of the destroyed losers paying the
winners, the big winner with its intact economy gave aid to everyone who
wanted it, allies and former enemies alike, to help them rebuild.
Instead of the victors occupying the losers, the United States occupied
everyone (except the USSR), enemies and allies alike.
And even in the recent past the Europeans have proved that their counsel
sucks. That's what we learned in Yugoslavia, something I've discussed
here at great length. Years of dithering where the US lobbied for
military action and the Europeans counseled diplomacy and sanctions, and
what it got us was years of slaughter and civil war there. Finally the
US issued an ultimatum; and after 6 weeks of bombing, the war there
ended. Milosevic was deposed, and the Serbs went back to democracy and
ceased to be imperialistic. And it's been reasonably peaceful there ever
But having forced the Europeans to accept an attack (which they
graciously let us do most of) they insisted on being involved in
controlling it and because of that it damned near failed. Our military
learned a lesson: coalition command doesn't work. There needs to be a
single commander in a war so that there is a single strategic goal.
So in 2001 we, ourselves, got attacked -- and the Europeans were
generous with their advice and willingness to help decide what American
military forces should do. Is it any wonder we're not interested? The
Europeans can't even clean up their own back yard without our help; why
should we listen to what they have to say about anything else?
The Twentieth Century is a tapestry of European failure and American
success. If there's any arrogance here, it's the one held in the
capitols of Europe where they still think of the US as some sort of
rambunctious ***ager who is strong but stupid and needs to be led by
older and wiser heads. Experience proves otherwise. We've made our
mistakes, but we haven't set off two world wars. That honor goes to our
good friends in the UK, Germany and France, who don't seem to understand
why the US isn't eager to follow their advice.
This is not the greatest evil the world has ever seen, nor the
cleverest, nor the first - and nor, certainly, will it be the last.
But America is moving into a phase of believing so, and America is apt
to throw her weight around.
No, I don't think that people here think that this is the greatest evil
the world has ever seen. Certainly none of us who grew up during the
Cold War would confuse the threat we now face with the annihilation that
could have been unleashed against us with half an hour's notice during
those 40 years. Bad as these terrorists are, they do not have the
ability to turn the United States into a parking lot.
But we're also not interested in shrugging our shoulders after three
thousand good people were killed here, and going about our business. We
didn't start this particular war, but we're going to finish it. And
anyone who slaughters Americans is going to be dead meat. (I think
that's a pretty good message to send to the world. If that is all they
learn from this, I'll be happy.)
And quite frankly, I can't think of any reason why we need either
permission or advice to take care of it.
For more than half of the last century, the United States has had to
intervene in Europe to keep the peace, or to settle wars. But it's
noteworthy that the Europeans have never had to send military forces to
the United States to help us deal with anything, during the entire
history of the Union. Is it arrogance for the US to keep its own
counsel, or a rational appraisal of the situation? Since the Europeans
have proved beyond doubt that they are incapable of keeping their own
houses clean, why should we listen to their advice on how to clean ours?
This Message is guaranteed environmentally friendly ...
read more »