Hazards and Opportunities

It is an unthankful task to alert Americans to trouble when it buds “far away”. As put in the last posting, “some think that, if the “back yard” where it happens is far away, the matter is of no consequence. If it happens in someone else’ “backyard” then soon it will occur in your “backyard”, too”. Therefore, “far away” in miles does not mean “remote” in time”.

Allow me to recount an experience. It is the late ‘50s and venue is the University of Oregon in a class about East Asia. Pearl Harbor comes up. Professor Chen mentions that such a thing should not happen to a Great Power. The class boos, because it perceives that some culpability is projected on the victim of the evil deed. It then dawned on me that the man has a point and that it connects with some, even then perceived as disturbing, habits discerned in my new American home.
America’s home-cooked perils often come from a projection of a misinterpreted past into the future. The US’ insular condition and invulnerability is part of a fiction nurtured by overlooked evidence.
Significant evolvements that demand attention surface that will change the global scene and especially the Atlantic Alliance. Since the outbreak of the “Cold War” a notable condition dominated the region’s affairs. The originally sensible arrangement had been that, the US would protect physically and further economically Europe’s western fringe. The sound assumption was that during a recovery the American umbrella will prevent the West’s Eastern European style “sovietization”.

Not all expectations materialized while some unanticipated consequences did so. Yes, there was a recovery and some in western Europe achieved or bested American GDPs. Furthermore, in accordance with Washington’s wish for a structure that would give Europe weight through unity in a world of superpowers, the European Union (EU) emerged. What did not happen was the translation of economic magnitude into -costly- military power. Europe remained an American client, and its potential was not translated into an ally of significance. Europe in world affairs was content to exert influence through insider-pressuring the criticized Americans. The dividend was the enemy’s good will -earned without sacrificing US-backed security.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Block, a new order rose. As a threat evaporated, several sovereign states emerged in central Europe. It appeared that with the Iron Curtain gone, Europe is united. Instead, a widening division can be noted. Due to its history, the “east” differs markedly from the entities of the continent’s west. The dissimilarity calls for new policies and an American reassessment. Within the EU proper, the newcomers did more that to shift the internal balance eastward.

The new actors bring into play societies whose experience, values, and hopes, as well as their economic development, differ from the west’s. The difference is sufficiently impressive to talk about a “New Europe” and an “Old Europe”.

Old Europe might be defined as the “lucky Europe”. In the war, Old Europe did not suffer consequences commensurate to its responsibility for Hitler’s rise. It took the Wehrmacht six weeks to subjugate great power France. The same job required, with the help of the then allied Red Army, against pre-industrial Poland, also six weeks. Nazi rule in the West was, nearly benign compared to the lot of the “East”. Paris “did not burn”. Uppity Warsaw was leveled. Such matters help to explain the difference of the perspectives. A Danish joke said that, if the Soviets come, an answering device is to be activated to tell “we capitulate”. No nation of New Europe would make such a joke. Submission has produced bearable short duration penalties in the West. In the East defeat meant a heavier yoke and it was “forever”.

The upshot: in Europe and the EU, there are two zones. Due to its experiences, one camp believes that, for the “flexible”, there are free lunches. On the other side of the divide, entities such as the “V4” espouse non-negotiable values. These are “independence”, national identity, and the moral right to defend them, and also the craving to overcome the backwardness left behind by foreign rule.

In the context of the migration-crisis, also due to the turbulence created by the Trump presidency, the cultural differences of the camps limit the EU’s ability to act beyond PC-sanctioned folding if challenged.

New Europe essentially stands for “resistance”, the preservation of its identity and a continental confederation of the motherlands. Not having had colonies -the subjugated have no dependencies- its countries see no need to atone for a past in which they themselves had been abused. They also wish to catch up with successful societies by copying their strategies, and so wealth is seen as a desirable condition and not as one for which apologies are due to the failing. In doing so they ignore that Old Europe dismisses them as inferior by PC standards. Old Europe views itself as predestined to lead “lesser nations”, while the New Europe is critical of the former’s crisis management by retreat.

What does, regardless of its diversity, New Europe want beyond integration into the global economy? “Catching up” presupposes the protection of independence. As Mr. Babis, the Czech PM put it a few days ago, “We must protect what our ancestors built in a thousand years. This is not a slogan, it is a fact.”

Self-determination depends on Europe’s security -currently tied to the success of Italy’s Salvini and Orbán in Hungary. With that, the management of the migration crisis – resisting the attributed “right” to illegal immigration- attains a key role.

The West’s elites pursue goals that are either incomprehensible to, or rejected in New Europe. One of these is, reacting to colonialism, a wish to atone for its success and the growing gap that modern times create between progressive and static societies. Accordingly, the left-green political class wages what it sees as a moral war on everything that is western, capitalist, and white. Coming from socialism and servitude, this approach is perplexing. Therefore, New Europe claims that Africa’s problem is to be solved in Africa and not by importing it to Europe. As PM Orbàn put it, the thing to do is not to “bring the trouble here, but to take care of it where it arose”.

This is a “declaration of war” between the old and the new, the traditionalists and the reformers. The programmatic case made by the protagonists of New Europe it to claim defiantly “We need a new European Commission that is committed to the defense of Europe’s borders. We need a Commission after the elections (in 2019 a vote to renew the EU’s governing organs is due and might shift the balance of power) that does not punish those countries that protect their European borders.” Indeed, the signs point to a shift from the multiculturalist collectivist centralizing appeasers to a strong confederate “rightist” opposition.

The latter’s objective is to change the political composition of EU institutions and to reverse the organization’s open-door migration policy. Accordingly, Hungary has shown that “we can stop migrants on land” and Italy “ has shown that migrants can be stopped at sea”. Until recently, left-liberal pundits claimed that migration is unstoppable. Good propaganda not to have to oppose the “inevitable”. But scary if the image of millions of integration-resistant and unemployables that are condemned to pauper-status is conjured up. That created the prospect of an inundation by a welfare-dependent, criminally inclined new majority that displaces the indigenous. Small wonder that, to the extent that the awareness of the prospect sinks in, a response expressing desperation emerges. As so often when the confused crowd feels lonely, this brings to the surface a minority of political illiterates that espouse failed snake medicine. Neo-Nazis here, “democratic” socialists there, arms stretched to give the Hitler-salute and raised fists under red flags there, are symptoms that tell little about the decisive facts.

At the same time, the traditional political class has no other response to their ship hitting the shoals than to plead that one continue as before. It attempts to show the stiff upper lip and hopes that, the officially condemned effort to protect Europe’s perimeters will cut the number of illegal arrivals. Meanwhile, from its self-serving pedestal, the “vanguard” proclaims its infallibility and its ethic purity. Let France’ Macron put it into words. He asserts that an opposition is building up between the nationalists (racist chauvinists) and progressives (arch-angels of virtue). “I will yield nothing to nationalists and those who advocate hate speech”.

“Hate speech” might be, when it fits, a way to check-mate an evil force. However, the magic erodes once it is used to stigmatize those that say what they see, and refuse to claim as real what they are told to see. Hating fire might not be an entirely wrong attitude once the house is aflame.

This leads us to the menaces and to new opportunities that the unfolding trend presents for the US which is, and remains, the main player in the transatlantic alliance. For the United States, the fledging forces of the New Europe represent an opportunity. They allow the US to stabilize its flanks and to rely, with the help of the likeminded, on a steadfast, transformed EU. However, this fortuitous prospect holds true only in case that, after the mid-terms, the country’s course can be maintained. It would be ironic if, contrary to the new European trend, originally inspiring America would move toward collectivist and permissive leftism.

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