Monday, March 15, 2004

Climbing Down the Spanish Steps

As usual, Derb's right, in at least two respects. On this topic, Andrew Sullivan agrees with Derb--a rare event.

First, "the Spanish election result is the worst thing to happen yet in the War on Terror. It is a huge victory for Al Qaeda, their greatest to date." I'm profoundly depressed my Saturday analysis (see tpfp post 3/13 5:42pm) was wrong; that, rather than defiant, the Spanish people heaved morality over the side of the ship of state. I actually thought the horrific bombings in three Madrid train stations would force Europe to confront terrorism. So did the French paper Le Monde, in an Editorial on Friday:
It is Europe and the democracy which were tackled Thursday March 11 in Madrid. It is the European Union which was attacked in one of its capitals; it is one of the democracies of the Union, Spain, which is aimed at three days of its general elections. . . .

Europeans share the mourning of the Inhabitants of Madrid; they must be organized together for a threat which relates to them all. If it did not know it yet, it knows it today: Europe belongs to the battle field of hyper-terrorism.
And so did Mark Steyn, writing in Monday's Australian:
In his penultimate public appearance, the late Osama bin Laden, broadcasting from his cave in the early hours of the Afghan campaign, listed among his principal grievances "the tragedy of Andalusia" -- that is, the end of Muslim rule in Spain in 1492. That's 512 years ago, but the al-Qa'ida guys are in no mood to (as the Democrats used to urge Republicans in the Clinton impeachment era) "move on". After half a millennium, even Paula Jones would have thrown in the towel. But not these fellows. They're still settling scores from the 15th century. They might not get around to Johnny-come-lately grievances such as Iraq until the early 2600s. . . .

Even if you'd avoided Iraq or Andalusia or British banks or Pilger or any other affront to Islamist sensibilities, you'd still be a target. As the PR guy for the Islamic Army of Aden said after blowing up that French tanker: "We would have preferred to hit a US frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels."
Even the hilariously mis-named "Seattle Post-Intelligencer" (perhaps the third most liberal newspaper in America) saw the light:
The struggle to defeat Islamist terrorism is necessary for America's national security and for world peace. Simply put, that is why the public continues to support the war. . .

Recall, in contrast, what critics predicted. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. and Iraqi deaths. The "Arab street" was going to rise up. Hordes of new terrorists would be recruited and descend on us. Friendly Moslem governments in the Middle East would fall and unfriendly ones become bellicose.

But none of that happened.

The Arab street, for the first time, is learning that democracy is possible in their region. Press freedom in Iraq is the envy of other Arab countries. Women's civil rights have increased. Friendly governments were not destabilized; rather, unfriendly ones, including Syria and Iran, have come under new pressure. With Saddam gone, Iraq no longer finances suicide bombers in Palestine.

The United States, meanwhile, showed its lack of imperial ambitions by removing its troops from Saudi Arabia and the Saudis finally are cooperating in eliminating al-Qaida-affiliated cells in their country. Destroying such cells is crucial to preventing the funding and training of terrorists who could mount new attacks on the American.
This weekend in Spain, as the Seattle paper said, none of that happened. Instead, Spain's incoming Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, "vowed to withdraw troops from Iraq and criticized US President George W. Bush." According to Zapatero, "The war in Iraq was a disaster, the occupation of Iraq is a disaster." Worse still, European Commission chief Romano Prodi (a leftist former Italian Premier), agreed, in an interview published by Italy's La Stampa newspaper Monday: "It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists," Prodi said. "Terrorism is infinitely more powerful than a year ago," and all of Europe now feels threatened, he told the paper. Well, all of Europe always was threatened; but I thought a consensus was building that force was the only effective response.

Silly me. I forgot Europe's history of appeasement, which began well before Neville Chamberlain proclaimed "peace for our time." The Genus "European," Species "Chicken," was fully evolved by the early 16th Century, when faced with the Barbary Pirates:
The Barbary Coast of Northern Africa consisted of the four states of Algiers, Morocco, Tripoli, and Tunis. The "Barbary Pirates" had for centuries captured vessels sailing the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. They occasionally raided coastal villages to capture Christian slaves, such as a village in southern Ireland, which was said to have been entirely captured by Muslim raiders.

Earning their living by blackmail, tribute, piracy and slavery, the Barbary Pirates received yearly sums of money, ships, and arms from foreign powers. Those who paid their tribute were allowed to sail unmolested along the Barbary Coast, and trade in the African ports. Those who did not had their ships seized and their crews held for ransom or sold into slavery. In 1662, England agreed to pay an annual tribute, in return for free passage along the Barbary Coast.

By the 18th Century, the fearsome reputation of the Barbary Pirates, and self-interest, had led most of the European powers to routinely pay the tribute demanded. The Europeans, who had strong navies, found it easier to pay tribute to the Barbary states than to try to suppress it, since it achieved the strategy of reserving the Mediterranean to those who were wealthy.

The first American ship to be captured was the brig Betsey, captured in the Atlantic by Moroccans in 1784. America was a new nation, and the Moroccans had never before seen an American flag. Any Christian ship was assumed to be fair game, however, as it was taken for granted that they were at war with every Christian nation, unless a peace treaty had been signed.
The United States Congress initially seemed disposed toward appeasement (i.e., paying tribute). But, wiser policy soon prevailed:
Secretary State Thomas Jefferson, told Congress it must choose "...between war, tribute and ransom." He believed war was the only reasonable choice, and advocated the creation of a navy. Tribute paid to the pirates was "money thrown away," and the only thing they truly understood was gunpowder and shot. . .Jefferson called for a united military alliance among the European powers, along with America, to blockade North Africa and provide for a military solution against the pirates. Europe chose to continue paying tribute.

"Would to Heaven we had a navy to reform those enemies to mankind, or crush them into non-existence," said George Washington in 1786. Said one American envoy, "There is but one language which can be held to these people, and this is terror."
By 1800, a phrase first uttered by founding father Charles Pinckney (1746-1825) became America's rallying cry: "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute!" In 1801, Jefferson, now President, "sent American ships and U.S. Marines to the coast of North Africa to put an end to the piracies. In 1815 the Barbary rulers agreed to abolish all demands for annual payments from and acts of piracy against the United States." This victory against pirate terrorism was memoralized in the second line of the Marine Corps Hymn: "To the Shores of Tripoli." And it's worth remembering that the Tripoli triumph freed Europe from further payments.

It's now clear, as Victor Davis Hanson writes, that America's perceives justice and morality quite differently than other nations:
[W]ith the exceptions of some English-speaking allies and eastern Europeans, are in fact absolutely alone in our larger struggle for Western civilization and have been all along well before Iraq, which was merely the latest excuse for ongoing European appeasement. The Spanish will never go after the killers of their own citizens, much less the countries who provided them support and succor, just as the Western Europeans did nothing to stop Mr. Milosevic, just as they sent a token force to Afghanistan, and hardly any to Iraq, and just as the Greeks will do nothing if their Olympics are destroyed by waves of Islamic terrorists.
Western Europe has no guts--never had. They're risk adverse--remember, the peoples of Western Europe are descendents of those that didn't have the get-up-and-go to get-up-and-go to the United States, to anywhere in the Americas. Immigration to the New World mostly comes from the right side of the bell curve, each time leaving the Old World incrementally less able, less agile, less aggressive, less alert. It's our gain--and Europe's loss.

Which brings me to Derb's second point. Britain aside, Europe won't stand on principle. They have none. The continent was content to accommodate Hitler--so long as it didn't cut-off the course of coffee and croissants (think Sartre during the occupation at Les Deux Magots). Western European democracies counseled U.S.-Soviet detente--and ignored the peoples of Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968). No, Europe's "stategy" is nothing more than long-term bribery of its enemies (Barbary Pirates for 400 years, West Germany to Soviet Russia for 40). And Europe's spinelessness has been S.O.P. for more than a millennium.

Don't believe me? Just listen to Rudyard Kipling, the great English Imperial writer, from his poem "Dane-geld (A.D. 980-1016):"
It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation,
To call upon a neighbour and to say:--
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:--
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:--

"We never pay any one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost,
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!"
Too bad Europe's stuck in appeasement which, though inefective, is a thousand year vintage. I doubt they'll pull up in time.

So let's be sure Europe doesn't take America down with 'um.

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