Here’s the cover of this week’s Economist magazine.
In this issue The Economist argues the US should avoid pulling out of the region. First, America has interests in the Middle East, “Today’s chaos is trashing human rights and torching values that many, including this newspaper, look to America to defend. Not everyone will agree—some Americans are tired of their country acting as a global policeman, and others rightly point out that its geopolitical priority is China’s growing ambition… But even allowing that, the Middle East still matters.” Second the Economist states that even though America is becoming petroleum self-sufficient, “If it cannot keep the oil flowing, its economy will suffer grievously and so will its claim to global leadership.” Finally it must stop nuclear proliferation, “it must be a brake on other regional powers who might think of launching weapons programmes of their own.” In the detailed analysis that follows the lead, it goes on to blame Bush’s excessive hubris for wanting to remake the region while taking Obama to task for his neglect and reticence to engage there. “One president went too deep into Iraq, the next got out too soon; the first over-reached, the second under-shot; the Republican wanted to use American power to strike enemies everywhere; the Democrat often seemed to treat American power itself as dangerous. But whereas Mr Bush improved in his second term, writes Mr Rothkopf, Mr Obama has not learnt from his mistakes.”
Yet nowhere in the 3,000 word piece does it state why Americans have to be the ones who have to die in order to “save” the Middle East. Why does it always have to be us?
Is it because the Europeans have shown themselves time and again to be able to stand on their own and protect themselves? The weakness of the European states during the Cold War was understandable, but the EU was unable to sort things out in the former Yugoslavian states in the 1990s. It couldn’t counter Russia when it partitioned Georgia in 2008 and rolls on its back when Russia does the same to the Ukraine today. Even taking Khaddafi out wasn’t possible without the US “leading from behind.”
It’s been 70 years since the end of World War 2. When will Europe be able to stand on its own?
Anti-American sentiment has grown like a cancer throughout Europe and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by those of us who travel there frequently. I don’t understand why I as an American have to put up with snide comments from complete strangers while traveling on one hand, then be expected to put my military-age son’s life at risk on the other. When we act in our own best interest we get criticized for doing so unilaterally, but when we step back from the line, thereby forcing the Europeans to step forward we are slammed for isolationism. For 14 years we have faced a barrage of criticism for our imperialism in the Middle East from the Europeans, and now we face complaints about wiping the region’s dust from our boots.
I am not an isolationist as 14 years of writing in this journal proves, but I do recognize that isolationism runs red through the veins of our nation. America was founded by people trying to escape some place, whether religious tyranny in Europe or economic stagnation in central America and Asia. People didn’t come here to integrate with the rest of the world, they came here to avoid its insanity and stupidity. Every American realist or neo-con recognizes this yet outsiders (and our own idiot Left whose ideas were imported for the most part from Europe) are so quick to label us as “imperialists” whenever we act in our interest or whine when we fail to act. I don’t even agree with Obama’s policy of abandoning the Middle East yet take offense at the Economist, a magazine which supported not only the Iraqi Invasion of 2003 but the election of Barack Obama not once but TWICE, chiding us that we must not abandon a region that Europe has done f**k all to help. That’s chutzpah, but then again chutzpah is a word Jews thought up while living among Europeans.
Instead of criticizing the US for abandoning the region why don’t the European take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves why they can’t stand up for themselves in the first place. Why does America need to provide them with not only their spine, but their brains, hearts and claws? Why are the EU nations cutting defense budgets a year after Russia shot down a plane full of Europeans, annexed the Crimea and is about to take serious chunks out of Ukraine? Why is the UK facing “inevitable” defense budget cuts a month after Russia flew a bomber carrying a nuclear missile over the English Channel? It’s easy to develop extensive socialist safety nets while living under a protective umbrella paid for by the American taxpayer and built from skin and bones of American youth.
Nearly 100 years ago the United States came to Europe’s rescue, and our soldiers returned home carrying Spanish Flu, killing 675,000 Americans, double the number killed or wounded in Europe. America then turned its back on Europe, which quickly birthed Stalin and Hitler. 25 years later Americans were once again dying for Europeans, and that time we stayed. And what has it gotten us?
The Economist may fret about America abandoning the Middle East. I wonder how it would feel about America abandoning Europe, but regardless of how it feels, perhaps it’s time America returned to its isolationist roots. Think of it as a “growth experience” for Europe, which would have to either learn how to take care of itself or speak Russian (given the laziness of the Greeks I know which way they’d go.) Perhaps then the Europeans wouldn’t be so quick to attack the US for acting – or not – in a region that is much closer to and much more important for Europe. But given that the Europeans can’t even clean up their own sport, relying upon the newly installed US Attorney General to take down FIFA’s Sepp Blatter, I’m not holding my breath waiting for the EU to shoulder the burden of its own defense. Oh, and of course the Europeans are already whining about American overreach there.
My ancestors may have been Slavic peasants and Irish sod-cutters, but at least they had the brains – and chutzpah – to leave Europe.