Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Europe is other people

The early returns are in on the state of American conservative thought in the post election defeat era. And they're not good, even by their debased standards. Here's a Tuesday editorial from the Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd), linked to the NATO summit in Latvia:

The NATO forces battling resurgent Taliban in southern Afghanistan call to mind the Normandy landing. Once again, mostly Canadian, British and American troops are fighting and dying. Most of the rest of Europe is absent from the fight,

So it was Japanese soldiers on the other side in France in 1944?

most NATO members prefer the by now traditional division of labor: The Anglo-Saxons do the fighting while the others compete for popularity as armed aid workers ...The 2,900 German troops in Afghanistan are concentrated in the relatively safe north, focusing on reconstruction ... . If the Taliban are allowed to re-establish Afghanistan as global jihad's international headquarters, Europe would probably suffer more than the U.S. or Canada. The terrorists are opportunistic killers, attacking where there is the least resistance. Since September 11, they have failed to carry out another attack on U.S. soil. Scores have died in bomb attacks in Europe.

Note the incoherence. The under-equipped Germans are supposedly hiding out in northern Afghanistan where there is least resistance -- precisely the place where those opportunistic terrorists are said to be most likely to attack. And it doesn't occur to the Journal that it might indeed be because Europe has to concentrate on the home front that it's been harder to mobilize for the Afghan War, not least given the moral hazard that more European forces there would just free up US troops for adventures elsewhere.

Finally, the editorial never confronts one contradiction at the heart of the NATO strategy -- that there is at least one European country that's "plenty willing" (as Bush says) for a fight, especially when it gets really messy. That country is also missing from the WSJ's list of countries above that did the fighting in WW2, and it's the one which the choice of location for today's summit was designed to irritate. Indeed, there are echoes of past and present dilemmas in one of today's anniversaries --

in 1943 Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met in Tehran to discuss their combined strategy for defeating the Germans.

That was back when it was understood that wars involved awkward choices.

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