however, Europe and America have nothing to say to each
other. Transatlantic Europe is dead on arrival. Ever since
the Cold War ended, US policymakers have been doing their
damnedest to figure out a justification for NATO's continued
existence. NATO is the critical instrument of US supremacy.
The Bush Administration came up with the need for "stability."
The Clinton Administration was more cunning. It played on
Europe's insecurities about its supposed terrible past.
A new post-War generation had come to power in Europe. And
though its only experience was of a society more tolerant
than any the world had ever known, the one issue it felt
passionate about was "intolerance." NATO's raison
d'etre, therefore, would be to fight racism, anti-Semitism,
and "ethnic cleansing." The project for the "new
NATO" went together with a sudden US Government preoccupation
with Holocaust restitution. Europeans had to make amends
for its past. Europe's banks and industries had to fork
over billions or else face legal and financial sanctions
in the United States. But more was needed. A movement cannot
get off the ground without someone living to hate, someone
who can energize the faithful. The Serbs were made to fill
in as the alleged embodiment of Europe's past. But things
did not go according to plan. Last year's bombing campaign
was a flop. Europe's leaders or at least the more
intelligent among them know that NATO did not win.
The Russians saved it from disaster. The "new NATO"
is no longer even on the agenda.
be sure, Europe's policymakers still find the idea of "humanitarian"
crusades appealing, doubtless as a way of pretending that
the European Union stands for values higher than farm subsidies
and regional policy. This is why the EU jumped at the chance
of showing its strong disapproval of Austria's Joerg Haider.
In a retread of the good old days, President Chirac left
no cliché unuttered when he recently described Serbia
as "an apparently entrenched bastion, where the worst
memories of Europe's past still fester: nationalism, ethnic
persecution, hatred of others and contempt for freedom."
In short, Yugoslavia was "an offence to the founding
principles of the Union."
Europe's electorates are a stubborn lot. They are not interested
in any of this highfalutin stuff. They just want to continue
to enjoy a comfortable life. They have little taste for
imperial adventures. Instead of interfering in the Balkans,
they believe, the European Union should be protecting their
standard of living from the depredations of globalism. Such
narrow-minded parochialism infuriates Europe's elites as
much as it does our own. But things are a little different
in Europe than here. Perhaps it has something to do with
the high voter turnouts, but unlike in the United States,
politicians in Europe have to accommodate the wishes of
year's bombing campaign was as much the elite's war in Europe
as it was in the United States. But it was Europe's governments,
not the Clinton Administration, which hovered on the brink
of collapse just before the Russians stepped in to pull
the plug on the Serbs. Year in, year out Europe's policymakers
vow to make the Continent's economy more like that of the
United States. They urge the creation of "flexible"
labor markets, of an entrepreneurial culture. They promise
to cut back on welfare, long vacations, extensive health
care benefits. Europe has to become more "competitive,"
they cry. The trouble is, Europeans have no interest whatsoever
in living under American-style capitalism. They have no
wish to compete with the sweatshops of Asia and Africa.
The swiftest road to electoral disaster in Europe is to
start fiddling around with the welfare state. Jacques Chirac
in France tried it and in 1997 lost control of the National
Assembly. Helmut Kohl tried it and was ignominiously thrown
out of office in 1998. His successor, Gerhard Schroeder
continued where he left off and soon his poll numbers were
down in the toilet. It was only when he reversed himself
with a few government bailouts of industries that his fortunes
began to recover.
elites shudder with horror at Joerg Haider. But the dirty
little secret of Europe and it really is not even
much of a secret is that almost everyone agrees with
him. Europeans are distinctly unenthusiastic to put
it mildly about immigrants. They lower incomes, spoil
the quality of life and undermine national cultures. Most
Americans believe the same thing. But in Europe politicians
respond and pass laws that restrict the rights of entry
of asylum seekers. Europe's elites drone on endlessly about
enlarging the European Union and inviting a number of the
former Soviet bloc countries to become members. As far as
most European voters are concerned, however, this would
be nothing short of disaster. Like Haider, they do not want
to be inundated by Poles and Slovaks looking for work and
undermining trade union bargaining power. Nor do they want
to see BMW or Renault transferring their operations to the
East. As for "free trade," Europeans expect full-blooded
protectionism from the EU.
materialist aspirations of Europe's voters and the political
ambitions of Europe's elites have been the driving force
behind the emergence of the European Union as a global rival
to the United States. The other day, President Chirac proposed
the other day the creation of "a new European rapid
reaction force for the North Mediterranean area." This
force would supplement the European army of 60,000 agreed
to in Helsinki in December. This crisis force will allegedly
soon be available for deployment outside Europe. Chirac
did not explain what he meant by the "North Mediterranean
area" or what sort of military missions he had in mind.
Since NATO is already taking care of any possible "missions"
and more, there is no military point to his proposal. It
is entirely about the creation of an EU armed force. German
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has called for the creation
of a "hard core" of EU states that would integrate
more quickly than others. This so-called "multi-speed
Europe" would have to be in place before any new member-states
are allowed to join the EU. In other words, EU enlargement
was being put on the back burner.