The Duck of Minerva

Two sides to every story

2 June 2006

Victor Davis Hanson is the gift that keeps on giving. He articulates a certain strain of neoconservativism so badly as to bring discredit upon many of his more eloquent fellow travelers.

Here’s one of his recent essays (via American Future). I’ve edited it just a bit to see if I could generate an equally poor, but diametrically opposed, argument

Europe’s America’s Good Intentions Have Gone Sour

By V. D. Hanson

ROME New York – The European American countryside is as beautiful as ever. Hotels in the cities are as packed as they are high-priced. Tourists fill Rome New York City. The same bustle is evident from Lisbon San Francisco to Frankfurt Boston. Everywhere European American stewards welcome in millions of sightseers to enjoy the treasures of Western Civilization North America. Never has life seemed so good.

Despite a public anti-AmericanismEuropeanism,, individual Europeans Americans extend the old warmth and friendship to American European visitors. Yet beneath the veneer of the good life, there is also a detectable air of uncertainty in Europe America this summer, one perhaps similar to that of 1914 1908 or the late 1930s.

The unease is apparent in newspapers and conversations on the streets that echo the view that voters and politicians want nothing to do with the European Union Constitution American political system. Perhaps the general European American discomfort could be summed up best as the following: Why hasn’t the good life turned out the way we wanted it to?

England, France and Germany are upping their retirement ages States are confronting collapsing and/or planning pension cuts systems. Many corporations are cutting back on health care benefits. They have given up the dream that workers in the future can quit at 55 – or of health and retirement security — and even retirement at 65!

The Iranians irk The Europeans the United States. European governments sold them precision tools necessary for nuclear reactors Americans hoped that making an example of Iraq would deter other states from pursuing weapons of mass destruction. Many Europeans Americans assured Tehran that dialogue, not rowdy Americans, alone can solve the “misunderstanding” over nuclear proliferation assumed that the doctrine of preemption would squelch Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But as thanks instead, Iran’s pesky president talks down to these postmodern Europeans as if they were sends insulting letters to George Bush. Meanwhile, Iran presses ahead – hoping to top off with nukes three-stage rockets that could reach the Vatican, the Eiffel Tower or the Brandenburg Gate.

Frontline Spain Many Americans clamor impatiently for the European Union Federal Government to clamp down on illegal immigrants streaming across the Mediterranean Mexican border. The utopian vision of continent with porous borders tied together through economic integrations is, for the time being, on hold – at least as it pertains to Africa Mexian migrants.

The Dutch, the French and the Danes Americans are petrified by unassimilated a few foreign Muslim radicals in their from other countries who have killed or threatened even liberal Europeans benevolent Americans. Churches are almost empty America’s reputation in the Muslim world is in decline. Mosques are being built Iraq remains a mess.

Growing numbers of polled Germans Americans now believe that the pacifist Europeans the sole superpower are in a “clash of civilizations” in [sic] the Islamic should retreat from the world.

What is going on?

Good intentions that have gone sour.

The enemies of Europe’s America’s past – responsible for everything from Verdun defeat in Vietnam and Dresden stagflation to a constant threat of mutually assured destruction – were identified as nationalism communism and militarism leftism. Meanwhile, at home, Europeans Americans cited cutthroat global competition and unbridled individualism government regulation as additional contributory causes of the prior strife and unhappiness.

So in response to the errors of the past, Europeans Americans systematically expanded reduced the welfare state. They welcomed immigrants slashed taxes. Politicians slashed increased defense spending, lowered the retirement age reduced environmental protections, and cut the workweek (in real terms) the minimum wage, and gave up on universal health care. Voters Corporate interests demanded trade barriers expansive subsidies and laid off workers to meet the new realities protect the public from the ravages of globalization. Either to enjoy the good life reduce their financial burdens or to save the planet enable two-worker households, couples forswore children.

But instead of utopia renewal, unintended consequences ensued. Unemployment soared Wages stagnated. Dismal economic growth Growing income inequality, record trade and fiscal deficits, shrinking [non-immigrant] populations and a scarier world outside their borders followed.

Abroad, even the much-heralded “soft power “hard power” of a disarmed Europe unipolar America could only bring attention to, not stop, the killing in Darfur. Meanwhile, China and India are no longer inefficient socialists but breakneck [semi-]capitalist competitors. Indeed, they have thrown down the gauntlet to the Europeans Americans: “Beware! Workers of the world who labor harder, longer and smarter for much lower wages deserve the greater material rewards!” In this new heartless global arena, apparently few will abide by the [remaining] niceties of the European Union United States.

Publicly, America’s European’s frustrations are fobbed off on “crass Americans soft Europeans” – and particularly George Bush Jacques Chirac. The Iraq war has poisoned the alliance, Europeans insist. They But Americans contend that America’s Europe’s greedy consumers foppish socialists warm the planet, siphon off its oil and trample foreign cultures undermine the United States, drive down the greenback, and breed radical Islam.

But in private, some Europeans Americans will confess that the problem lies with Europeans Amercians, not us. Some brave soul soon is going to have to inform the European American public: Work much harder and longer for less money Stop living on public and private credit, defend the continent on your own; recognize that military firepower can’t solve the world’s problems, move out of mama’s house McMansions and start changing diapers – and start expecting far less more from the state your government.

Who knows what the reaction will be to that splash of cold water? In response, what American Europoean populist will soon appear on the streets in Rome Birmingham, Berlin Pulaski, or Madrid Royal Oak once again to deceive the public that it was someone else who caused these disappointments?

We in America Europe should take note of the looming end of this once seemingly endless summer. We’ve been there, done that with this beloved continent country all too many times before.

[If you’re coming from LGM and want to comment, please do so there]

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