Stephen Chapman has a
highly critical view of the blogosphere that is worth taking a look at. He makes some valid points and some that aren’t so valid, but his argument still has enough of an element of truth to it that bloggers shouldn’t dismiss it out of hand.
He heavily criticizes the anti-European sentiment that’s common to the blogosphere, and believes that American insecurities towards the War on Terror have led to undue criticism of Europe.
Even if that’s true, Europe deserves the criticism. European is awash in anti-Semitic and anti-American sentiment that’s fueled by their own insecurities about their diminishing geopolitical stature. While the European people have been exceptionally supporting of America (with the notable exception of those who bought into the conspiracy rantings of Thierry Meyssan), the European elites have done little to support the War on Terror, and many have been obstacles towards doing what is needed to safeguard against further attacks.
The fact is that it is that a blogger criticizing Europe carries far less weight than when Jack Straw or Chris Patten criticize America. It is also true that European media outlet such as The Guardian spend inordinate amounts of time spewing anti-American rhetoric. These aren’t just people self-publishing their opinions, these are people who are ostensibly representatives of Europe itself. Their arguments are basically ones that America should be as impotent as Europe is. We shouldn’t go after Iraq because that might offend the same people who call for more and more American deaths each day. The fact is, Europe is so bureaucratically ossified right now that they cannot provide for their own defense, their economy is likely to collapse, and we’re one of the legs that’s propping them up through trade and our assistance in UN peacekeeping operations.
Europe is the one that is reacting out of a sense of loss and impotence, and trying to enforce their rules upon the world despite their complete lack of leverage. The Kyoto Treaty, the International Criminal Court, a Palestinian state, all of these are European demands upon America that are completely untenable to American interests. As crass as it may sound to some, our government’s higest duty isn’t to the EU or the UN, it is to the American citizens. Europe can complain all they wish, but the Bush Administration isn’t about to sacrfice US interests on their whim.
As for the point on the War on Terror, getting bin Laden isn’t the crux of this campaign: it is debilitating terrorist networks across the globe. If we were to have simply gotten bin Laden and liberated Afghanistan and then called it quits, we would have likely been attacked again. President Bush himself said that this is going to be far bigger than just bin Laden. The events of September 11 have proven that we need to adopt a new ethic of conflict, one that ensures that those forces with the ability to strike against the United States are dealt with before they do so. The priniciples of deterrance aren’t enough when the enemy doesn’t care about dying for their cause.
Furthermore I totally disagree with the idea that there’s anti-Arab racism involved. The hostility is directed at those who are trying to undermine America and Western civilization. Unfortunately, the Arab world is by and large sold on the concepts of anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, and global jihad. Until those concepts are rejected and the Arab world comes to grips with modernity, we have to treat them as a largely hostile group of people. It may not be politically correct, but until Swedish Lutherans start blowing people up in the streets, it’s almost entirely Arabs who are behind these terrorist movements.
Is there some unnecessary ad hominem anti-European sentiment in the blogosphere? Quite possibly so. However, that doesn’t mean that the War on Terror is a flop and the Europeans are right. What is going on is not a "carefully constructed fairy story" at all. The real fairy story is the one in which international treaties and good will is enough to protect us from terror. Yes, this will be a war in which battles will be lost, people will slip through, and mistakes will be made. Yes, there room for dissent and doubt in the war – but not the kind of obstructionism and invective from the European elite. Nor do any of those things mean that this war is not winnable or isn’t worth fighting. Rather this is a war that we must fight, or civilization itself, American and European, will be in grave jeopardy.