Friday, February 21, 2003[posted by jaed at 2:02 PM]
"We are the world":
The Prime Minister of Belgium, Guy Verhofstadt, writes in the Financial Times:
As long as we Europeans feel threatened, the use of war and weapons can more or less be justified. However, without this sentiment, a transatlantic gulf has opened up. I fear this rift will only grow. As long as Soviet divisions could reach the Rhine in 48 hours, we obviously had a blood brotherhood with our cousins overseas. But now that the cold war is over, we can express more freely our differences of opinion. And one of those differences of opinion concerns the fundamental question about the use of war as an extension of politics.
This is an admirably direct way of framing what has lurked around the edges of the Axis of Weasel's pronouncements: America may only go to war if Europe is threatened. If America is threatened, but not Europe, it follows that war is unacceptable and must be blocked, by the means we have seen Belgium, France, and Germany use. (I will accept arguendo that Europe is not in fact threatened by Arab war against the dar al-Harb.)
It is a strikingly solipsistic view: only threats to Europe count. Europe is the world; America's existence, apparently, has meaning only insofar as it is the defender of Europe. (Given the attitude recently shown toward the defense of Turkey, I suspect as well that parts of Europe are more equal than others in this regard.)
As with much of what I read in the papers, that this feeling exists isn't news. But it is both clarifying and oddly depressing to read it so openly stated, in a tone of such reasoned forbearance. Surely you understand, the PM says, that we cannot permit war. We do not feel threatened, after all.