Those Sniping Euros

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After two months in good old Helvetia, I'm heading back home, to the Big Bagel, the last great town to race my motor. But before I fly to Bloomberg City, a few thoughts on our European brethren, who lately seem to be a bit peeved with Uncle Sam.

There are 15 quarrelling nations at present making up the European Union. Sometime soon there will be 25 quarrelling states. The greatest shadow cast on the EU, however, is that of the empty chair of Uncle Sam. His unilateralism is what spurs the Euros to try to get their act together. Starting with the Frenchies, whose values and culture have been permeated by American ones, turning every self-proclaimed intellectual of the Left Bank into an Orlando Furioso. The trouble with the French vis-a-vis les Americainsis a simple one. America is far more important to the French than France is to Americans. It started with Dien Bien Phu, when Eisenhower and Dulles refused to give air cover to the French garrison surrounded by Viet Minh, and continued on to Suez, when Eisenhower and Dulles forced the Anglo-French to pack it in. Those conflicts are now in the distant past, and the issues have changed, but the root causes of French resentment are still the same. America is the world's numero uno, making unilateral decisions that threaten France's socialist welfare state and control of the nation's economy by state-trained elite, not to mention the dwarfing of France's military, economic and cultural influence in the world.

Just across the channel, the Brits are also sniping at America but, being the hypocrites they are, in far more diplomatic language than the Frogs'. Chris Patten, the European Union's external affairs commissioner, a bureaucrat since he was in his crib, and Jack Straw, Britain's foreign secretary and as irrelevant a man as any human being can possibly be, are squealing, huffing and puffing, but to no avail. Uncle Sam in general, and President Bush in particular, do not give a damn what mini-Europe thinks, and are going on about their business. This is very upsetting to the Euros?how dare they not consult us??but in reality it is not only jealousy and wounded pride, it's also fear. The Europeans are scared shitless that George W. will bomb Iraq and Iran, and they will bear the brunt of the counterattack.

Now let's get one thing clear. I'm not for bombing Iraq, but I am for bombing Saudi Arabia and Iran, and while we're at it, hit the illegal Israeli settlements, too. It all boils down to defense expenditures. America spends more on defense than all the 15 European nations together, and then some. The 15-percent increase that President Bush has asked for is far larger than the Brit and French defense budgets combined.

Mind you, now that the Soviet threat has gone the way of good manners, the Europeans no longer need military muscle. Uncle Sam has bailed them out twice, and is alone doing the heavy lifting. The Europeans are happy to snipe at the vulgar Yanks, as long as there's peace in their midst. Remember when President de Gaulle demanded that American troops leave French soil sometime?prompting Lyndon Johnson to ask whether that included those who were buried beneath it. The French may have helped the American Revolution, but boy, have they been paid back in spades.

The facts are that no matter what the Europeans do, no matter how many countries join the EU, they will never be able to look America in the eye as equals. They will always be like a junior overseas partner of a giant bank. Invited to the boardroom and to the office parties as a gracious gesture on the part of the American honcho.

When people said in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11 that the attack marked a new chapter in world history, little did they foresee that this entailed a drifting apart of Europe and America. Having lived most of my life in Europe, and knowing full well the spinelessness of European politicians and the bureaucrooks who run the tired old continent, I was not at all surprised that the anti-American sniping began the moment the Taliban were wiped out. The reason an ex-Marxist like German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer does not approve of America going it alone is that it means Europe will have to go it alone. France, Germany and Britain are swamped with Muslims, five million in France alone, so they shudder in case of an American attack on a Muslim nation. As I said previously, I am very strongly opposed to an American attack on Iraq, but that's because I don't think Iraq is guilty of anything lately. The Saudis are, but we are focusing on Iraq because the Israelis demand it. The Europeans oppose it out of fear of their indigenous Muslim population.

And speaking of nations acting selectively and for their proper interests, there is a kangaroo court taking place in the Hague, with three judges pretending to be objective, and a prosecutor who is the biggest bluff in Europe since Papa Hemingway gave that title to Benito Mussolini. Instead of Madeleine Albright and Bill Clinton sitting in the dock along with Milosevic, we only have the latter. The prosecution chooses to ignore that the Clinton-Albright-Holbrooke troika was in cahoots with Slobodan and courted him assiduously as the key figure in the signing of the 1995 Dayton agreement to end the war in Bosnia. Talk about victor's justice. But more about that in the future.

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