home > archive > 2004 > this article
Did 3/11 = 9/11? Spain's surrender and the destiny of Europe
By Nicholas Stix
I am not a Spaniard.
Somewhere, on March 12, I saw the headline, "We are All Spaniards Now." It was an allusion to the Le Monde headline from September 12, 2001, "We are All Americans Now."
As we now know, that initial French (and German) sympathy for America was short-lived. In no time flat, the Old Europe of France and Germany sought to appease Islamism, and while claiming to be our allies, to betray us at every step of the way.
Not so, the Spaniards. The 1,300 troops they sent to Iraq were largely a symbolic matter, but the symbolism was powerful.
After 9/11, when so much of Europe was making mischief at our expense, many Americans assumed that Europeans would react differently, if they were hit. I was one of those Americans. But on the Sunday after 3/11, a majority of Spanish voters -- who pre-3/11 had supported the ruling, America-friendly Popular Party -- voted it out, on behalf of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist Workers' Party. It was as if to say to the Islamists who had attacked them, "See, we're not your enemy." It was the worst sort of collective cowardice imaginable -- not only did it hurt America, but it did nothing for the Spaniards. Do they think that Islamist suicide bombers are now going to consider Spain their friend?
Zapatero says that he looks forward to enjoying a "magnificent" relationship with France and Germany, which is a slap at the U.S. In another slap at the U.S., he says that he will not bring Spanish troops home, if George W. Bush surrenders control of American troops to the U.N., which is less honest than his pre-election position that he was going to bring home the troops, period.
Let's see. The last time the U.N. pacified a war zone was … never.
Zapatero claimed, "Fighting terrorism with bombs, with operations of ‘shock and awe,' with missiles, that does not combat terrorism, it only generates more radicalism. The way to fight terrorism is with the rule of law, with international legislation, with intelligence services. This is what the international community should be talking about."
Speaking to the New York Times, "David," the world's most quoted window frame maker, translated Zapatero's true sentiments into clear Spanish, "Maybe the Socialists will get our troops out of Iraq, and al-Qaida will forget about Spain, so we will be less frightened. A bit of us died in the train."
Zapatero's decision to recognize gay marriage or civil unions, will surely also warm the hearts of Islamist terrorists everywhere. Those Spaniards who changed their votes, spat on the graves of the now 202 dead. But let us not forget the millions of Spaniards who stayed the course. To them, I tip my hat.
(Sticking to the neocon party line, on March 16, David Brooks wrote in the New York Times, that the Spaniards had betrayed the Iraqi people. As if this were about the Iraqi people! Claims by Brooks & Co. to be "for the Iraqi people" ring as hollow as domestic advocates' claims to be "for the children." In fairness to Brooks, however, much of his column does stand up to scrutiny, and he was the first writer to observe that the Spaniards who switched their votes, sought "a separate peace" with al-Qaida.)
Even ordinary extortionists, when they get paid off, always want more. But as some clear-eyed observers, such as Mark Steyn have pointed out, Islamist terrorists are no ordinary extortionists. Whereas the ordinary kind live to get paid, Islamist extortionists live to kill and be killed. And al-Qaida didn't just attack Spain due to its alliance with America, but as Steyn also pointed out, due to its expulsion of the Moors (Spanish Muslims) in 1492. (Since Spain expelled the Jews the same year, do I get to wage war on Spain, and declare it a Jewish state?)
I am also not a European.
Lee Harris argued, "The world changed on Sunday" with the March 14 Spanish elections, but the real problem is that Europe failed to change. If Europe cannot rouse itself to fight back, after it has been attacked on its own soil, we may conclude that the cowardice we saw after 9/11 was not merely the expression of anti-Americanism and opportunism, but of a deeper paralysis, which is now in its terminal stage. And so, I weep for Europe.
Europe's paralysis is best expressed in the combination of two seemingly contradictory statements, one by David Brooks and the other by Edward Luttwak:
"Now all European politicians will know that if they side with America on controversial security threats, and terrorists strike their nation, they might be blamed by their own voters." (Brooks)
"Any [European] politician who invokes Madrid to demand a withdrawal from Iraq will be inviting terrorist attacks to prove his point." (Luttwak)
Both statements may co-exist in the same universe of discourse, the universe of weakness, the universe of defeat. The vicious circle of weakness dominating European thought is countered by the virtuous circle of strength that George W. Bush has expressed: America takes the battle to al-Qaida & Co. We kill some of their members, and capture others, from whom we get the intelligence necessary to kill and capture other terrorists, and so on. That may seem simplistic, but in fact, a nation will either gain the advantage or steadily decline, in the war on terror; a stalemate is not an option. Strength will compound strength, or weakness will compound weakness.
(The "circles" are metaphors, rather than discrete, logical units. For we are talking about people and nations, not logic or geometry. In the real world, a strong man or even a strong people can be brought low through the collective cowardice or thuggery of others. And so it is, that al-Qaida seeks to beat America through chasing off her allies. And so, we can expect attacks on the United Kingdom, and more attacks on the U.S. on or just before our own November 2 presidential election.)
Western European nations increasingly embrace appeasement, while permitting themselves to be overwhelmed by Islamist enemies who hold everything European and Christian in contempt. For a possible harbinger of things to come in Western Europe, in Kosovo over the last few years, Serbian Orthodox Christian churches, monasteries and cemeteries have routinely been desecrated by Albanian Muslims.
From 1945-1990, Western Europe lived under the shadow of the Soviet "Empire of Evil" (Ronald Reagan), and yet it was safe from being overrun, because we protected it. And so, while America spent billions on Europe's defense, Europe could spend billions on decadent welfare programs which further sapped its moral strength. The result was the same as it always is, with those who get used to getting a free ride. Rather than gratitude, Europeans felt resentful and superior towards us.
A classic case of a spoiled character feeling resentful and superior towards his betters is the Tom Cruise character (Lt. Daniel Kaffee) in the 1992 movie, A Few Good Men. Defense attorney Kaffee cross examines his nemesis, Lt. Col. Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson).
The confrontation could as easily have been between Europe and America over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Unfortunately, politically correct writer Aaron Sorkin and director Rob Reiner presented Nicholson as the heavy and Cruise as the hero, but it is a tribute to Sorkin's rhetorical talent, that his speech became a credo for many members of the LAPD and the American military.)
The problem with most of Western Europe, is that it wants to be safe, but still won't guard itself, yet no longer wants America on "that wall." That means that Western Europe will be defeated by Islamism. Most Americans under the age of 40 know little about Europe, and have only the most tenuous relation to the Old World. What they do know, however, is that we bailed the Western Europeans out of two world wars, and then saved them from communism.
And yet, today our relationship to Europe, even the concept of "Europe," is typically exaggerated here at home. American socialist writers speak still of our "European allies," when referring to countries (France and Germany) that can only honestly be referred to as rivals or outright enemies. And multiculturalists, black racists, and white nationalists alike refer to white Americans via the euphemism, "European Americans."
The socialist writers' practice is not hard to understand. They are writing not of America's allies, but of their own. They see themselves as domestic enemies of America, and consider America's foreign enemies their friends. (Hence, I disagree with Lee Harris' thesis that American liberals have no concept of an "enemy." Sure they do – the term refers to their own country, and its patriotic defenders.) You can find these traitors all over the world, sucking up to America's foreign enemies, the latter of whom hold the traitors in contempt, but who find them useful idiots. Sound familiar?
And so, when the Spaniards turned on us, the New York Times' March 16 house editorial engaged in double-talk: "It is possible to support the battle against terrorism wholeheartedly and still oppose a political party that embraces the same cause."
No, it isn't.
In theory, one could "support the battle against terrorism wholeheartedly," while voting against a political party embracing the same cause, if say, that party had botched every other aspect of statecraft, particularly the economy, and the opposition also wholeheartedly supported the battle against terrorism. But the vast majority of Spaniards had never even halfheartedly supported the war on terror, and the Popular Party's stewardship of the economy had been excellent. But at the Times, anyone who screws over America is their friend, and must be defended.
Such traitorous anti-Americanism is nothing new. In Oliver Stone's anti-American movie, Platoon (1986), set during the War in Vietnam, the "good" American sergeant, "Elias" (Willem Dafoe), says "We've been kicking other people's asses for so long, I figure it's time we got ours kicked." The character was a hero to anti-Americans across the land, who saw his murder by the evil sergeant, "Barnes" (Tom Berenger), in terms of the crucifixion of Jesus. That reaction was odd, coming as it did from a group of atheists.
The use of the term "European-American," has had an even odder trajectory. As far as I can determine, it comes from the Nation of Islam, when it was known as the Black Muslims, under the leadership of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad (aka convicted felon and traitor, Elijah Poole; 1897-1975) and Elijah's momentary favorite son, Malcolm X (aka convicted felon, Malcolm Little; 1926-1965). The Black Muslims identified the races with continents. Well, sort of. Early on, they referred to blacks as "Asiatics," so their geography was as nutty as everything else they said.
I think white multiculturalists are simply imitating black racists, as they do whenever they talk about race relations.
The white nationalists are arguably the oddest bunch. The typical white nationalist knows as much about Europe as he does about Timbuktu, and the brilliant ones, most notably Sam Francis, know better than to join the words "European" and "American." Perhaps this is some sort of parody of the way blacks think they are turning a negative into a positive, by obsessively using the "n"-word.
America does have a very close cultural and historical relationship to England, but if there's one thing I learned in over five years of living in Europe, it is that England ain't in Europe. (That is when I also learned that I am no "European.")
I know the Brits are now members of the European Union, but when I lived in then-West Germany, the Brits were part of the EU-forerunner, the Common Market, yet I never heard any Continentals speak of the British as "Europeans." There was a palpable tension between the Brits and the Europeans, and there still is.
We got our language, our Common Law traditions, our notions of representative
government, and our empiricist philosophical tradition from the English.
The European tradition, conversely, is one of centralized absolutism and
obscurantist, metaphysical speculation. Since FDR, unfortunately, we have
been moving toward the Old World, as the American people have acquiesced
to creeping socialism, centralization, absolutism and anti-scientific thinking.
And yet, I was once in love with Europe. The idea of Europe, at any rate. I got over that love, by living there. And yet, I shall never forget, and never regret, the five years I spent in West Germany, reading old editions of old books; studying philosophy with the world's greatest living classicist, Hans Joachim Kraemer (not that I'm a classicist!); working on the assembly-line, producing the world's greatest production car (at Daimler-Benz); falling in love with the German language and one of its speakers; and traveling on both sides of the Berlin Wall.
By the early 20th century, Europeans tended to speak synonymously of "Europe," "Christianity," and "the West." But Christianity was born in the same place as Judaism – the Middle East. Christianity may have achieved its greatest political power in Europe, but by the mid-19th century, at the height of European power, Christianity was a decadent, empty shell. And the ideas associated with "the West" were already moving … west.
Until the past generation, the notion of being a "European," as opposed to the national of a particular country, was an oddity. There were no "Europeans," there were only Frenchmen, Germans, etc. Today, since "Europeans" do not identify themselves in opposition to Asia and Africa (and South America isn't a part of their consciousness), the only unifying factor I can see in their identification with the Continent, is in their opposition to America. (No, not "North America"; Europeans are indifferent to Mexico and Canada. The term "North America" functions merely as a petty insult to Americans.)
The official story today, is that nationalism destroyed Europe. As is so often the case, the official story is nonsense. Nineteenth century European history is largely split between wars pitting nation-states and alliances against each other, and the rise of revolutionary, transnational movements (communism, pan-Germanism). Those two trajectories converged and exploded, in the first half of the 20th century. In each case, a transnational movement (communism, national socialism) bonded with a national base and nationalistic passion (Russia, Germany, Austria). The irony is that one of the reasons that Europe failed to stop Nazism, was due to the interwar influence of a bureaucratic, pacifist humanitarianism. After the war, that pacifist humanitarianism was left standing, unchallenged, in Western Europe, where it still saps the Continent's strength. Today, corrupt, supranational bureaucracies (the UN, EU) are manipulated by nationalist interests (France, Germany, Russia) in the name of "internationalism."
Europe functions today as a grand museum. It is home to much of the world's great art, literature, philosophy, architecture, libraries, churches, and museums in the traditional sense … and oh, the food! Unfortunately, this treasure is largely lost on the Europeans, who have been culturally bankrupt and politically socialist since at least the end of The War. Given their embrace of the inferior fare at McDonald's, Europeans' appreciation of even their own food is suspect.
Rather than studying the masterpieces of the past, in order to create new ones, Europeans today often are simply satisfied to know that previous Europeans created great works, to patronize cultures that have not, and to smugly believe that their neglect of one legacy, and frivolous elevation of the other, makes them superior to the rest of the world.
Thus should Americans study Europe's triumphs … and its decline. For if we are not careful, in the not-so-distant future, Europe's fate will be our own.
Nicholas Stix can be reached at Add1dda@aol.com.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!
© 1996-2018, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.