An Open Letter to Europe
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that our friends in Europe do not fully understand the ramifications of Sept 11th. As a favor to our allies, I think I should do my best to present things from the American perspective before the nations of Europe do something that we will all regret.
While Americans do view Europe as our friends, it has been a costly friendship for us. In the 20th century we were dragged kicking and screaming not once, but twice into world wars started by Europeans. 400,000 of our men died in those wars. Had we said enough is enough after that bloody sacrifice I don’t think anyone would of blamed us. Yet, during and after WW2 we poured staggering amounts of aid into Europe via the lend/lease program and Marshall plan. Little of it was ever repaid.
After WW2 a new threat to Europe materialized in the form of an aggressive Soviet Union. Again America came to Europe’s aid. We stationed massive amounts of troops in Europe ostensibly to keep the Soviets out but also to keep the nations of Europe from squabbling amongst themselves once again. After a five-decade long struggle with America, the Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of a futile arms race they couldn’t win. Again, Europe and the rest of the world seemed safe.
Once the Soviet Union was out of the way Europe became increasingly shrill and critical of the United States especially in the year or so leading up to Sept. 11th. Europe went out of its way to insult and belittle America at every opportunity. We were treated as if we were a nation of barbarians because we have a death penalty. Americans were scolded like children throwing a tantrum because we have honest differences with Europe over international treaties. France worked with China and Cuba in order to replace the United States with Sudan on the UN Human Rights Commission. The fact that our ally in Europe supported a nation that practices torture, terrorism, and slavery over us did not go unnoticed.
Then Sept. 11th happened and the show of support for America was nothing short of amazing. After the general disdain we’ve been shown publicly for so many years, many Americans never expected such solidarity and public sorrow across Europe for America’s loss. The kind words, limited military support, and tough legal measures against terrorism were much appreciated at the time and still are today. But there was still a question in the mind of many Americans: ‘how long would Europe be with us?’
Which leads us to the present. We’re almost 5 months out from the original attacks and the ‘War on Terrorism’ has gone much better than anyone could of possibly expected. Afghanistan has been liberated, the Taliban have been destroyed, and al-Queda is on the run. Pakistan has reversed course and is actively fighting terrorism. Libya and Cuba have for all intents and purposes ended their association with terrorist groups. Sudan and Yemen are becoming much less hospitable environments for terrorists. We’re also helping the governments of the Philippines and Bosnia fight terrorists as we scout out Somalia.
Yet our work is far from over. The governments of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine are still supporting terrorist groups with global reach and we have absolutely no indication that’s going to change in the near future. In a world where terrorists are actively seeking (and have attained) weapons of mass destruction, to allow these states to continue to actively support terrorism would be foolish beyond comprehension. Hence George Bush’s words on Sept 20th of 2001: ‘And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.’
As the months have dragged on, more and more signs of discontent have come from Europe. Many European nations offered troops for Afghan campaign but only Britain’s military made much more than a symbolic contribution. While Israel publicly fretted that they weren’t allowed to help more, Germany’s government was nearly toppled because of the Green parties protest of German support for the US war effort. While unlikely allies like Russia and Pakistan bent over backwards to help the US, France warned the US not to attack Iraq. In recent days Europe has seen fit to strongly back Yassir Arafat and his terrorist-supporting regime instead of Israel. Some European nations have refused to extradite terrorists to the US unless we agree to waive the death penalty for the terrorists in question. Britain’s Jack Straw accused George Bush of merely playing politics when he called North Korea, Iran, and Iraq an ‘Axis of Evil’. We’ve also seen an almost hysterical condemnation of the US over our supposed mistreatment of captured terrorists in Cuba. Those things make it obvious that Europe doesn’t understand America’s view of this situation.
You see for Americans see the ‘War on Terrorism’ is every bit as serious as WW2. The American public will accept nothing less at this point than the eradication of every terrorist group of global reach and an end to all state supported terrorism. Americans are as just as determined to achieve these goals today as we were to pay Japan back for their attack on Pearl Harbor. Nothing less than total victory is acceptable to us. So how does this impact Europe?
Have you ever heard the expression ‘To the man who only has a hammer in the toolkit, every problem looks like a nail?’ When you’re avenging 3000 dead Americans and fighting a global war against terrorists and the regimes that back them, all things are seen through that lens. Which brings us back to Europe. Moments of silence while appreciated, don’t count for much in the long run. Americans expect long-term backing in the ‘War Against Terrorism’. That means WHEN we take on Iraq and if we have to take on Iran, North Korea, Syria, Lebanon, etc. we expect Europe to AT LEAST give us moral support. In the eyes of Americans, that’s the minimum that Europe should do considering everything we’ve done for Europe in the past century. After all, this isn’t some big moral dilemma. The nations we’re going to target will be sponsors of state supported terrorism. The governments of these nations will be giving money, shelter and aid to groups of terrorists who believe in murdering large numbers of civilians to achieve their goals. All these nations have to do to avoid a fight with the United States is stop supporting terrorism, don’t intentionally allow terrorist groups to operate inside of their borders, and don’t seek weapons of mass destruction that could be given to these terrorists. These are not unreasonable demands.
That’s why there is no fence for Europe to straddle on this issue. As far as Americans are concerned either you’re ‘with us, or with the terrorists.’ If Europe chooses not support us when we take on these rogue states, Americans will consider it to not only be cowardice, but to be a betrayal of the worst sort.
We may have stood with Europe in WW1, WW2, and the Cold War, but if Europe turns it’s back on us this time, we will not stand shoulder to shoulder with Europe again. If you think we had trouble hammering out treaties before, you haven’t seen anything yet. Forget about NATO, operations like we ran together in Serbia, and shedding another drop of American blood to protect European interests.
That being said, I would like nothing better than to have our friends in Europe beside us all the way through this war. The journey towards victory will be long and hard and we’d like to have some company along just for the conversation if nothing else. But make no mistake about it, America has chosen it’s path. Either Europe will walk with us, or we will separate for the foreseeable future. I hope Europe chooses wisely for all of our sakes.