Behind Facades

There is a popular show running and it is presented by cute puppets. The cabaret comes under diverse labels to match the orientation of sundry viewers. Let it be tagged here by the summary of the performance: “Anti-Trumpism”.

If the reader surmises that an endorsement of POTUS follows, he is wrong. This is not about Trump but about the forces that rally under the excusing pretention of opposing the President only. Before proceeding, a point is to be made: The most persuasive support of Trump is the agenda and record of his detractors.

Currently, on either side of the Atlantic, it is difficult to find a paper that does not take potshots at Trump. Cursing Trump has achieved a status that reminds one of the “amen” in churches, meaning “automatic” and “loud”. To the left of sanity, “Guilty” and “Trump” have become connected terms so that bringing up the President is an argument-clincher. Even in matters that have nothing to do with “the monster by acclamation”, mentioning him brings approval from those that are too meek to risk exposure as sinners. If, therefore, someone feels that his plea is feeble, he needs to inject Trump and the case can rest.

Even though Trump is cast as a “black hat”, much of the hullabaloo around his person is not really about him.

Let us begin with a fundamental. In every age we find a bundle of ideas according to which the decent contemporary behaves and by which leaders claim to act. In our time these ideal foundations of order are changing. The mass’ and the traditional elite’s concept of proper values are drifting apart.

As a class, the prominent have reasons to resent Trump. The clans that used to determine what the average person is to think have a crow to pick with the man in the White House for threatening their position. Trump is a symptom of spreading cultural change. He has accomplished what could not be done, and he violates the elites’ sustaining rules. A special cause for concern to those that dictated society’s mores is that an iconoclastic skepticism regarding their wizardly is emerging.

Therefore, it is a fitting finding that we are experiencing a cultural revolution; it shakes the fundaments that determine who should govern and redefines the criteria of good government. We have a historical precedent in the “Age of Enlightenment”. Its new value system prepared the destruction of the old order by depriving it of legitimacy by the late 18th century.

Not as a person, rather as a phenomenon, Trump expresses a trend that cracks the supporting pillars of hither power structures. In itself, that is plenty of reason for counter-attacks to dodge a defeat.

Fighting that battle utilizes a secret weapon that used to be swept under the carpet by the political class. The detonator of the missiles is plain and unadulterated anti-Americanism.

For long, anti-American sentiments have been identifiable as an undercurrent of the laments of Europe’s “progressive forces”. Local factors determined the motive. It ranged from resentment due to defeat, through a dislike because of a rescue that reminded of weakness, or it expressed material envy. America’s preeminence, and needing her protection -in the case of the avowing Left for keeping the Soviets out- were the motivators. So was not understanding the way the US system worked and being shocked by the odd ways omnipresent Americans -proclaimed to be “lesser” acted. As the British put it: “over paid, over sexed, and over here”.

Ironically, it is the demise of the USSR that facilitates the open expression of anti-American resentment because it has become risk-free. Except for the hard left, the average European knew, that regardless of the sprayed “Ami Go Home” signs, keeping the Red Army out required to keep the Americans in. At any rate, articulating anti-Americanism put one in danger of being called a Muscovite. This danger has dissipated. Beyond that, the hindrance to the open rejection of the USA was that it put one in danger of sounding like a crusading nationalist hater. That did not amount to a beneficial PR-position to a crowd that rejects nationalism and that preaches universalism and cultural equivalence.

In itself, Trump’s election is a provocation and a proof of traditional prejudices that say that Americans are uncouth. Thus, the last hindrance of a frontal attack on the USA is removed. Conveniently, instead of having to oppose a “people”, the condemnation of Americans in general, can be heaped on Trump while much more is meant. Due to this approach, anti-Trumpism is the PC form of anti-Americanism. The analogy is the anti-Semite that reinvents himself as an anti-Zionist. With that we can peek beyond another façade.

Castigating Trump is easy and it receives support. Traditionally, the best points of anti-Americanism come from US sources. The spigot through which this help flows has been turned open State-side by those that are threatened by the trend that produced Trump. An added oddity of the phenomenon is that, in part, the outrage is provoked by the folksy American style of the new politics there. The element that is shocked by the contrast to tradition and European folkways lectures us that the features and actions triggered by other (preferably non-Western) cultures are to be accepted as proper and as equivalent.

Latent, open and inherited antipathy for the US and the challenge it represents, a new geopolitical situation, the interests of the Euro-Atlantic political class, fuel action beyond the historic carping. Once centrist traditional parties are shifting leftward. A drift is expressed by Merkel’s finding that America has become, being unhinged, an untrustworthy ally. In that light the French-inspired discussion of an army to match the EU, and naturally excluding the Americans, becomes understandable.

This proposed symbolic army should not be taken as a wish to harden ill-defended Europe fist. Even if the project is commendable, its motive nullifies the venture’s value. The proposed force will be exhausted by the time it has met gender-quotas, eliminated exhaust, overcame hierarchies, and attains UN approval to use its non-lethal weapons. It is notable that, NATO’s members do not even exert the defensive effort required by the alliance. Trump’s nudging is depicted as aggressive prodding by a bully. The motive behind the projected European Army to scare off rambunctious boy scouts is not better defense but an alliance without Washington. That it would provide the planned EU super-state with muscle is a benefit added by those that know that “a country is what has a navy and an army”. A reactive scenario by which the US leaves NATO confirms that the Atlantic is widening. Until the US’ armed forces are not needed, that outlook will not scare anyone here.

For years, this column has been politely suggesting that ,militarily, NATO is an illusion and that, being isolated among its collapsing associates, US forces in Europe are at risk if a resolute aggressor tests the alliance. That at present “Europe” is unable to defend its borders from migrants confirms the old hunch. Ditto for the protested American missiles, once against the Soviets, and now facing Iran. “Europe” reacts to their deployment with the hostility that in a sane world would be directed against those that have targeted those that now protest their defense.

The picture, while disappointing, is not entirely dismal. There are several entities determined to survive with the corresponding will to resist challenges and who distrust the worth of the EU’s guarantees. This suggests that effective US-inspired bilateral arrangements could be erected to parallel NATO by binding together the able and the willing.

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