Out of Chaos, Opportunity
To the average American, the military campaign initiated by the U.S. and British-led alliance, with strong support from Australia and numerous other countries, was a resounding success. Their collective desire is now to see quick and effective regime change carried out in Iraq under supervision of the “alliance of the willing” and to welcome their boys back home.
In the average American’s mind, the whole world thus owes a debt to the American global policeman for liberating another nation from tyranny and offering them the freedoms of self-government and democracy. The reality check will come later when, as in Afghanistan, the huge task, let alone the massive cost, of nation building and peace enforcement becomes apparent.
On the other hand, the average citizen of the world outside of the United States, it seems, has a different view of the fallout from the U.S.-led victory in Iraq. Think-tank Stratfor recently summed up global reaction to the U.S. victory in Iraq thus: “Everyone is impressed, everyone is worried, no one wants to be the next Iraq and no one wants to see the United States get any stronger” (May 7; emphasis mine throughout).
After the U.S. victory in Iraq, no nation of consequence wishes to be drawn into a permanent subordinate position to America. Hence, as Stratfor concludes, for the U.S., “diplomacy will become more difficult after Iraq” (ibid.). The fact is, the future of Iraq is not at the center of discussions around the table when foreign policy gurus meet. While lustful eyes continue to be cast by Europe’s leaders toward Iraq’s oil fields, what is most important in the minds of world leaders outside America is the stance that should adopt in relation to the U.S.!
“Throughout history, the blast furnace of war has repeatedly reforged the international structures and major alliances governing world affairs. And it is happening again. The U.S.-led war against international terrorism, and Washington’s campaign against Iraq, are already recasting international institutions and the strategic relationships that undergird them. This shift is evident in the number of pillars of the old world order that are shaking and even in danger of toppling” (National Journal, March 7).
Consider the most profound of these changes: the fissure that has rent the Atlantic alliance asunder.
Atlantic Alliance Crumbles
“A nato alliance that unanimously, and for the first time in its history, invoked its founding principle of collective defense on behalf of the United States following the September 11 terrorist attacks convulsed into near-paralysis when Belgium, France and Germany for a time denied Turkey’s request for assistance in the event of an Iraqi attack” (ibid.).
The result has been a tension of historic proportions, in post-World War ii terms, on the one hand between the U.S. and “old Europe,” and, on the other, between the Franco-German alliance within the EU and the rest of its member nations—especially the aspiring EU member nations of Eastern Europe.
Even before the Iraq campaign, the more incisive observers of the Atlantic alliance were aware that Germany and France wished to ditch their post-World War ii relationship with the U.S.
“A European Union determined to develop a common security policy, and to speak with one voice on foreign affairs, devolved into a tower of Babel over whether to side with the United States against Iraq. This acrimonious debate pitted the ‘new Europe’ of Eastern European states, joined by Britain, Spain and Italy, against the ‘old Europe’ engine of European integration represented by France and Germany” (ibid.).
Author Charles Kupchan, a professor of International Relations at Georgetown University, was quoted by the National Journal as he zeroed in on the massive international spin campaign (to which the French and Germans acquiesce only too willingly) that is shaping world opinion powerfully against America: “More broadly, what we’re witnessing may also prove an incremental change in the global perception of the United States. People who once saw American power as a benign force may be starting to see us as predatory. … Such a loss of international legitimacy for the global superpower would change the world” (ibid.).
The unity of power of English-speaking nations under U.S. leadership has enraged the French and Germans in particular, those the U.S. defense secretary called “old Europe.”
But this Franco-German U.S. lobby was built largely on a deceit.
“For old Europe … arguments gave rise to suspicion that there was a hidden agenda. European public opinion endorsed the idea that the war was [for the U.S.] about oil, a claim that fed into the good old anti-imperialist reflex from Cairo to Paris. That oil argument was of course wrong” (International Herald Tribune, May 14). It was wrong in relation to America’s motives. For in reality, it is their precious source of Middle Eastern oil that Europe has its jealous eyes on!
However, the wrongness of the argument did not change “old Europe’s” opinion. To the contrary. The mud stuck to America’s already tarnished image, especially in Western Europe.
Such adverse opinion against the U.S. belies reality. For the Germans, in particular, a historically warlike people, to accuse the president of the Americans (themselves historically among the most freedom-loving, magnanimous and peaceful of people) of being more dangerous than Saddam Hussein, is beyond being laughable. But there is a deep frustration at the core of this Franco-German spin against the English-speaking people fueling this great deceit.
The American-led victory made some question the effectiveness of the Franco-German alliance. “The sound we can hear from Paris and Berlin is not the march of ever-closer union, but the rage of ever-closer impotence” (Spectator, March 15).
It is this perception of impotence that is arousing within “old Europe” a dangerous spirit—a spirit destined to turn the Franco-German led European Union significantly against the U.S. and Britain, destined to stir the resurrection of an old crusading imperial power—the Holy Roman Empire! “Old Europe” will remain “impotent” only until it bestirs its flagging economy by tooling up to replace the U.S. power that has protected its security for the past half century and more.
It is this spirit of “old Europe”—the Europe of the ancient Holy Roman Empire—that stirs even now within the corridors of power in France and Germany. As the above-mentioned Spectator article goes on to say, leaders within these countries privately confess their determination to seize Anglo-American leadership in world affairs. To this end they are taking it upon themselves to provide the driving force behind a huge, federating European Union. Not just to contest the U.S. for what they see as its world hegemony. They are determined to wrest world leadership from them!
The German Demon
The Iraq war has, for Germany, been a watershed in its foreign policy. Jeffrey Gedmin, previously a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington d.c., watches the Atlantic rift widen from the perspective of his Berlin-based Aspen Institute overseeing transatlantic affairs. He sees the danger of a more aggressive German foreign policy directed at weakening, if not completely severing, the post-war alliance with America.
Gedmin “says that Germany needs to be careful not to try to create a strong Europe with the sole aim of creating a counterbalance to the United States. ‘It will become a problem if the foreign policy program of Germany is to play the old French Gaullist card, trying to define itself and Europe in opposition to the United States,’ Gedmin warned” (Deutsche Welle, April 17).
Having worked on both sides of the Atlantic, Gedmin appreciates the deep differences that exist between the political culture and values of the American and German societies. It is so deep as to produce a mutual incomprehension of each. The U.S., by its isolationist nature, is a reluctant world power, particularly when it comes to aggressive military intervention in the affairs of another nation. Historically, that is not the case with Germany.
“Americans have always hated joining in other people’s conflicts. Only unrestricted submarine attacks off their West Coast brought them into the First World War, and only a direct attack on American soil in Pearl Harbor brought them into the second …. Once roused, however, they have responded with a mixture of determination, loyalty and generosity that no other nation has ever matched” (Spectator, op. cit.).
This contrasts greatly with the basic nature of the German people as expressed by German academic and author, the late W.G. Sebald. In an essay titled “A Natural History of Destruction,” Sebald stated, “The majority of Germans today know—or so, at least, it is to be hoped—that we actually provoked the annihilation of the cities in which we once lived. … Albert Speer describes Hitler at a dinner in the Reich Chancellery in 1940 imagining the total destruction of the capital of the British Empire …. ‘[W]e can destroy London completely. What will their firemen be able to do once it’s really burning!’ This intoxicating vision of destruction coincides with the fact that the real pioneering achievements in bomb warfare—Guernica, Warsaw, Belgrade, Rotterdam—were the work of the Germans” (New Yorker, Nov. 4, 2002).
Thus it is with deep concern that we should read the blatant claims for world rule by a foremost German political analyst. “One of the most influential political experts in Berlin believes that the opportunity has arrived to dispute ‘world hegemony’ with the U.S. He demands that the EU (which he sees as ‘a world power in the making’) should make use of this chance” (www.german-foreign-policy.com, March 10).
This German foreign policy news service was referring to claims made by Werner Weidenfeld in his article in German newspaper Die Welt on March 8. Weidenfeld is director of the Center for Applied Political Research and member of the German Society for Foreign Policy. It just so happens that Weidenfeld is also a senior executive of the Bertelsman Foundation, a company involved in publishing Nazi propaganda in the 1940s.
“Weidenfeld foresees an ‘epoch of disorder, risks and crises’ for which no new ‘forms of order’ existed until now. The U.S. had ‘neither the will nor potential’ for a sustained policy of world hegemony. The United Nations could order nothing above its usual strength and capability. Since the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, nato had lost its function and was displaying ‘elements of absurdity’” (ibid.).
That’s a blunt but precise and realistic assessment of the world situation in its Northern and Western hemispheres.
But what is of real concern is the solution to this geopolitical quagmire posited by Weidenfeld. He maintains that this presents an ideal scenario for the German-led European Union to become the leading world power!
Weidenfeld’s Die Welt article stated, “The population of the EU will increase from today’s 371 million to 539 million—almost twice as many as the U.S. Its area is … rather more than half that of the U.S. The gross domestic product is about 15 percent higher than the U.S. This potential could secure the status of a world power—around 35 percent of world production (U.S. 27 percent) and 30 percent of world trade (U.S. 18 percent) lies in European hands. This potential carries outstanding weight.” The EU, he asserts, is a “world power in the making” (ibid.).
Here Weidenfeld demonstrates that the EU does have one of the essentials to rule the world, which the U.S. also has—the potential. Then, contrasting the EU with the U.S., Weidenfeld asks whether the EU can provide that other essential ingredient, which the U.S. lacks, to sustain itself as a world superpower—the political will.
“Weidenfeld believes that what the EU lacks to become the leading world power is essentially the will to power. He sees this deficit as ‘the lack of effective concentration of political energy and the failure to think in world-political categories. … The key question is this: Can Europe translate this potential into world-political creative power?’” (ibid.).
Foreseeing this desire for world power in the nature of the German people, Winston Churchill once said “there will always be a German problem.”
Weidenfeld identified the catalyst that shall stimulate the political will within Europe’s most powerful and influential nation. It is simply the rising prevalence of disorder impacting German society. When Germans perceive disorder, they are driven to force their will upon the perceived chaos, forcefully imposing their own national perception of order on the scene. It is the chaotic, confusing current geopolitical situation that the end of the Cold War has produced, consummating as it has in unpredictable terror warfare, that is already sparking a change in the seeming “democratic” and “peace-loving” post-World War ii German nation. The Germans see the prospect of chaos looming large in the Middle East. In particular, they feel very uncomfortable about U.S. dominance in Iraq, a prime source of their energy supply. Ultimately, for Europe, the question of the future of Iraq is a question that hangs over the future of their oil supply, not America’s! This will agitate them into doing something about it sooner or later. It is a crisis they simply must contend with.
The Germans delight in facing or creating a crisis out of which they can develop a unity of order—it’s simply the German way!
Out of the present chaos and confusion in the European Union (about to be greatly exacerbated by the addition of up to 13 more member nations, 10 of which are scheduled to join next year), the Germans are about to provide what that motley admixture of ethnic, cultural, economic and political iron and clay lacks—the will expressed through a dominant and powerful leadership—manifesting itself as an increasingly anti-American, anti-British and, yes, once again, virulently anti-Jew imperial power!
“Old Europe” will retain an impression of disunity and confusion among the swelling ranks of its member nations until the crusading spirit of Charlemagne’s old empire is revived!
The Anglo-American war in Iraq has done much to awaken that spirit!
And that is perhaps the most profound of unseen consequences of this recent war in Iraq.