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Mark Steyn: The anti-Yanks are all talk, no action
National Post ^ | Tuesday, October 8, 2002 | Mark Steyn

Posted on 10/09/2002 3:46:27 AM PDT by badfreeper

Nelson Mandela says it's the U.S. and not Saddam Hussein who's "the threat to world peace." David Collenette regrets that the Soviet Union is no longer around to act as a check on American "bullying." Sweden's Goran Persson wants to build up the EU because it's "one of the few institutions we can develop as a balance to U.S. world domination." Sweden was scrupulously relaxed about Nazi world domination and Soviet world domination, but sometimes there are threats so monstrous that even in Stockholm you have to get off the fence. In Germany Gerhard Schroeder is Chancellor today because his party successfully articulated the great menace that George W. Bush poses to the planet. Feel free to insert standard "arrogant cowboy" imagery and other examples of rampant Texaphobia.

Let's suppose for a moment that these fellows are right: that America is a bully and a menace. The question then arises: So what are you going to do about it? Well, Mr. Mandela's country has been busy selling aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment centrifuges to Saddam. The First Secretary of the South African Embassy in Jordan is serving as the local sales rep to Iraqi procurement agents. Thanks to these sterling efforts, they're bringing significantly closer the day when the entire Middle East, much of Africa and even Europe will be under the Saddamite nuclear umbrella and thus safe from Bush's aggression.

Way to go, Nelson! But where are the rest of the slackers? I don't pretend to have all the answers -- well, OK, I do, but only when I'm being interviewed on TV shows -- but I find it a bit odd that the anti-American crowd, once you strip away the moral preening, don't seem to have any answers.

Worse, in confronting the Bush terror, they've developed the curious habit of mistaking the Great Satan's strengths for weaknesses. A couple of weeks back, I wrote about "the extraordinary innovations of the Afghan campaign, when men in traditional Uzbek garb sat on horses and used laser technology to guide USAF bombers to their targets." There followed the usual flurry of huffy e-mails from Canada and Europe insisting this proved absolutely nothing as the cowardly Yanks hadn't had the "guts" to send in ground troops.

I've heard this for a year now and I don't get it. So war's like cricket? There's only one correct way to play? The idea that it doesn't count unless it's the Battle of the Somme is most peculiar. Whether or not America has "no stomach for body bags," in Afghanistan there was no need for them.

There's something a little bewildering about an anti-war movement suddenly pining for the noble sacrifice of the poor bloody infantryman up to his neck in muck and bullets. But, if the Rest Of The World honestly believes the Pentagon are long-range, high-tech, sissy-boy warmongers, let me say again: Why not do something about it? The fact that the U.S. is responsible for 40% of the planet's military spending pales in comparison to the really critical statistic: It's responsible for almost 80% of military research-and-development spending. The gap between America and its NATO "allies" widens every day. You think those unmanned reconnaissance drones high in the sky over Kandahar were mighty fancy? They've now got a five-pound computerized drone you can fit in your backpack. In Afghanistan, a handful of prototype robots assisted in the cave-by-cave search for al-Qaeda crazies. We can only guess at the new toys the Great Satan will have in five years' time, but, whatever they are, I'll bet my in-tray is still getting sneering missives from around the world: "So now the bloody Yank nancy boys are using flying nuclear cheeseburgers launched from the Diego Garcia Burger King. Not exactly the Bengal Lancers, is it?"

If you don't like this scenario, there's only one way to change it: Get back in the game. At the recent NATO meeting, Don Rumsfeld invited his colleagues to demonstrate their seriousness by setting up a Rapid Reaction Force. He meant a real, actual Rapid Reaction Force, not a fictitious one like the European Union's. You may recall Louis Michel, the Belgian Foreign Minister, insisting late last year that the European Rapid Reaction Force "must declare itself operational without such a declaration being based on any true capability." As The Washington Post remarked, "Apparently in Europe this works." But, invited to set up a actual functioning RRF, the Continentals bristled: the cost would divert valuable resources from social programs and might mean they'd have to cut back on welfare payments to Islamic terrorists.

So instead the plan is to diminish U.S. hegemony by spending zip on defence and putting all their eggs in the UN basket-case. Structurally, the UN is a creature of the Cold War. It formalized the stalemate of East and West: It was designed to prevent rather than enable action; it tended toward inertia, which was no bad thing given the potentially catastrophic consequences of the alternative. But we no longer have a bipolar world, and so the vetoes only work one way -- to restrain the sole surviving superpower. And, looked at from the menacing bullying Great Satan's point of view, it's hard to see what's in it for them. But then the anti-Yanks' fetishization of the UN's Cold War structures is consistent with their general retro approach to the geopolitical scene: As with trench warfare, the more obsolescent the concept, the more eagerly they embrace it.

Indeed, just to complete their embrace of the metaphorical Austin Powers Nehru jacket, the left has finally signed on to the concept of "deterrence." In the Cold War, they wanted no truck with this repulsive theory: Why, the notion that "Mutually Assured Destruction" and a "balance of terror" would protect us was morally contemptible and consigned our children to live under the perpetual shadow of Armageddon. But with Saddam it'll work just swell apparently. He's a "rational actor": Even if he gets nukes -- even if he has them now -- he's not crazy enough to use them.

I can't see it myself. To pursue the analogy, deterrence means allowing Saddam to turn the bulk of the Middle East into his version of Eastern Europe, a collection of neutered and subverted client states, beginning with Jordan. Millions of people beyond Iraq's borders will be informally conscripted into Saddam's prison and bequeathed to his even nuttier son.

If you believe, like Nelson Mandela, that Bush is the problem not Saddam, then the above makes perfect sense. But I wonder if the rest of the anti-Yank set have thought it through. They may routinely say that "Bush frightens me," but they're posing; their lack of action makes plain that the Great Satan doesn't frighten them at all. They know America could project itself anywhere and blow up anything, but it doesn't. It could tell the UN to go screw itself, but it's not that impolite. Imagine any previous power of the last thousand years with America's unrivalled hegemony and unparalleled military superiority in a unipolar world with nothing to stand in its way but UN resolutions. Pick whoever you like: the Soviet Union, Imperial Japan, the Third Reich, Napoleon, the Vikings. That's really frightening.

Before September 11th, most Americans tolerated the anti-Yank diatribes from the Rest Of The West as a quaint example of the local culture. Filtered through the smoke of the World Trade Center, it's no longer quite so cute. The real phenomenon of the last year is not Europe's or Canada's anti-Americanism, which has always existed, but a deep, pervasive and wholly new American weariness with its so-called allies. Saddam's creditors in Moscow, his under-the-table trading partners in Paris and his kindred spirits in the thug states may yet team up to stymie America at the UN, and Nelson, David, Goran, Gerhard and the European "peace" marchers will cheer. Be careful what you wish for.

© Copyright 2002 National Post

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events

1 posted on 10/09/2002 3:46:27 AM PDT by badfreeper
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To: Pokey78
2 posted on 10/09/2002 3:46:58 AM PDT by badfreeper
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To: gcruse
Reworking of Steyn's Spectator column from the other day for Tuesday's National Post. You were right -- they didn't print the word. :)
3 posted on 10/09/2002 3:56:55 AM PDT by badfreeper
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To: badfreeper
Bring it!
4 posted on 10/09/2002 4:05:08 AM PDT by IonInsights
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To: badfreeper
5 posted on 10/09/2002 4:13:20 AM PDT by Rocko
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To: badfreeper
Thanks for the ping. I wondered when this version was going to show up. Kudos to the Brits for not watering their press down to the taste of the easily offended.
6 posted on 10/09/2002 10:12:49 AM PDT by gcruse
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