Sunday, April 17, 2005

The opinions of Europe, at least some of it

Varifrank has this piece on the opinions of many Europeans about the U.S. Go read it.

We've got two things here. First is the difference between their thoughts on us and ours on them. In many areas I'm sure it's different, but the main attitude of people I've been around is "You don't like us? Big deal, then leave us alone, we've got more important things to worry about". Their thoughts on us seem to be "You are simpleminded, and close to barbarians, and don't take what we tell you into proper account! You have to change as we say!" Which doesn't go over real well here. Mind you, I'm speaking of 'old Europe'; much of 'new Europe' seems to have a different take on things, from what I've read. In any case, it's the contrast between 'you have to change as we dictate' and 'go away, we're busy'. You may have noticed that nothing so irritates someone telling you how to change as being ignored, which would account for some of the noise from the EUnuchs(as Misha calls them).

In case you haven't figured it out, I really don't give a rat's butt what they think. Various things led me to this, but part was nicely summed up by a cartoon I saw back during the mess in the Balkans: a man(German, I think) was reading the headline in his morning paper(Mass Murder in Kosovo or something similar) and telling his wife "This is terrible! Why don't the Americans do something?". The obvious question was "This is in your damn backyard, why don't YOU do something about it?" And it was asked, and there was never a good answer. That mess wasn't the only thing, but it was a definite factor in my opinion.

The second thing that comes into consideration is the deference given by many here to the opinion of the Europeans, on everything. "We can't act without U.N. approval, we need to approval of our allies, we NEED to consult before we act"- with 'consult' meaning 'get their stamp of approval or we CAN'T act'- on any issue at hand. Had a nasty argument one night with an acquaintance on this, she insisting we had to have the approval of EVERYONE before we acted- everyone apparently meaning France, Germany and Russia in the case in question- otherwise it wasn't 'legitimate' action. It seemed to be of paramount importance to her to get the approval of the U.N., these countries in particular, before we should be allowed to act. And that 'allowed' part really set me off. In the aftermath of 9/11 we found out what the NATO pacts were worth now that the Soviet Union is gone; insisting that we had to have the approval of every sniffy premier, president, etc. before we could act pissed me off. And it still does. She probably wouldn't have approved of us taking the action we did after the tsunami disaster without the U.N. being in control; never mind that it was almost two weeks as I recall before the U.N. actually got someone there to look around and decide where to set up their HQ(luxury hotel with catering) and set up meetings about who should do what in what approved manner. She'd probably have agreed with Claire Short that only the U.N. had the 'moral authority' to act(bad words and screaming deleted). I flat refuse to agree that we have to have the approval of anyone to act in self-defense, this including in some cases whacking someone before they can do what they're planning.

Note: a D.A. once told me that if someone makes it plain that they intend to hurt you, you don't have to wait for them to strike you before you act. No, you can't shoot someone down the street for making threatening noises; if someone is telling you they're going to beat the crap out of you, you don't have to wait for them to start before you act. If this is true for an individual, why should we as a country have to wait for someone threatening to hurt us to do it before we act? If you're going to make snarky noises about stomping anyone we disagree with, save it; that's not what I'm saying and you know it.

One other thing Varifrank points out is that the europeans in question seem to think that we HAVE to have their good opinion and we HAVE to be their friends. And we don't HAVE to have either. We don't have to be their friends, and we don't HAVE to care about their opinions. I think, at some point in the future, this is going to be pointed out to them in some really loud way, and they won't like it. It's liable to be interesting.

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