Jewish World Review Feb. 12, 2003 / 10 Adar I, 5763

Terry Eastland

Eastland
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports


France and Germany need to be reminded of the necessity of a strong, even predominant America


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Tod Lindberg knew he had something big. Mr. Lindberg is editor of Policy Review, a publication of the Hoover Institution. More than a year ago, he had commissioned several articles on the subject of American power. The one Robert Kagan wrote caught his eye. "It was quite apparent on first reading that it was going to be huge," Mr. Lindberg says. "People were going to agree or disagree, but the article was going to shape debate."

"Power and Weakness," appearing in the June-July issue, drew notice throughout Europe. It was reprinted in every important European city, its themes taken up in learned conferences and symposiums across the continent.

Mr. Kagan, a senior associate for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a resident of Brussels, turned his 11,000-word essay into a book, which has just been published. "Of Paradise and Power" is compelling reading, not least because it aids understanding as to why Europe and America are at odds over going to war against Iraq.

Mr. Kagan's basic argument is that American and European perspectives on "the all-important question of power" - its efficacy, morality and desirability - are diverging. The Europeans have moved "beyond power," as Mr. Kagan puts it, "into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation," a "post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity."

In history, or before paradise, of course, Europe used power, over and over. We Americans, Mr. Kagan says, are the ones who still live in history, an often nasty, brutish place where international law and rules are unreliable and where security and indeed the defense of liberal values ultimately may have to depend on an order from our commander in chief.

Purchasing this book
-- linked in 3rd paragraph --
helps fund JWR

Mr. Kagan shows that "the trans-Atlantic divide" isn't momentary but has deep historical roots and is likely to endure. Europe experienced so much war on its own soil, including the great world wars, that it came to want no more of it. Defense budgets of European countries are tiny and declining - America's remains significantly higher - and the European Union, while economically a success, noticeably has failed to develop a military capacity. Europe has little ability to use force beyond its borders, while America can project power to all points on the globe.

In sum, Europe is weak, and America is strong. And each is that way not by accident but by design. Each, if you will, believes in being the way it is. And being what they are, Europe and America "measure risks and threats differently, define security differently and ... have different levels of tolerance for insecurity."

Iraq is the current case in point. Being strong and therefore able to do something about it, Mr. Kagan writes, America is less willing to tolerate Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. But a weak Europe regards the threat posed by Saddam Hussein to be more tolerable than the risk of removing him. Europe would use peaceful means to try to bring him into the community of nations. Europe also would use the United Nations to try to constrain any American effort to use force against Iraq.

Very soon, we could see such an attempt: France, which responded to Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N. Security Council by calling for stronger inspections, could veto any resolution that might be taken as an authorization for the United States to commence an invasion of Iraq.

There can be little doubt that America would refuse to feel obligated by any such veto. As Mr. Kagan explains, America sees itself - and Sept. 11 only has confirmed this perception - as "the indispensable nation," the one country that must assert itself if there is to be an stable international order and if liberty is to be advanced.

That isn't the way Europe regards America. Europeans, Mr. Kagan writes, see America as a danger, even more of one than Iraq. America is so regarded precisely because its power and its willingness to use it threaten Europe's new sense of mission.

The question Of Power and Paradise raises is whether some European countries - France and Germany in particular - might "become positively estranged" from America. The war in Iraq could lead to that unfortunate outcome. Yet one must hope the war would remind Europe of "the vital necessity," as Mr. Kagan puts it, "of having a strong, even predominant America."

Appreciate this writer's work? Why not sign-up for JWR's daily update. It's free. Just click here.




JWR contributor Terry Eastland is is publisher of The Weekly Standard.Comment by clicking here.

02/06/03: Judiciary's 'balance' -- or lack of it -- is our doing
01/29/03: The child who almost wasn't
01/21/03: President decides to punt on affirmative action case
01/14/03: Bush's faith has influenced his conduct in public office
01/07/03: Dems need ideas, not more microphones
12/17/02: Gray Lady should learn that times have changed
12/10/02: Will High Court be guilty of activism?
12/03/02: The missing facts in news accounts of Saudi Princess Haifa's putative 'charity'
11/26/02: Americans don't have to be worried about Big Brother
11/19/02: Texas' reputation for flamboyance may be revised
11/11/02: Bush now can repair confirmation system
11/05/02: Dems shouldn't believe too strongly in history
10/30/02: Snipers had lots of motives
10/23/02: No one should be shut out of marketplace of ideas
10/15/02: Open hearings that could imperil the nation
10/08/02: Debating the clear and present danger
10/01/02: A great awakening in China?
09/25/02: Abortion, again? The settled but still unsettling law of Roe v. Wade
09/18/02: A relevant presidency--and irrelevant U.N?
09/10/02: Ashcroft's obtuse judicial statement
09/04/02: The Education Gadfly stings again
08/28/02: So then let the president declare war
08/21/02: Will Bush finally 'fix' affirmative action once and for all?
08/06/02: President must take up cause of Egyptian democracy warrior
07/31/02: With each war, civil liberties are curtailed less

© 2002, Terry Eastland