The Corner

National Security & Defense

Needed: An Unlearning of Political Mythologies

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens looks at the EU’s response to the Islamist threat and finds it wanting.

This is well worth noting:

Can the decline be stopped? Yes, but that would require a great unlearning of the political mythologies on which modern Europe was built. Among those mythologies: that the European Union is the result of a postwar moral commitment to peace; that Christianity is of merely historical importance to European identity; that there’s no such thing as a military solution; that one’s country isn’t worth fighting for; that honor is atavistic and tolerance is the supreme value. People who believe in nothing, including themselves, will ultimately submit to anything.

The alternative is a recognition that Europe’s long peace depended on the presence of American military power, and that the retreat of that power will require Europeans to defend themselves. Europe will also have to figure out how to apply power not symbolically, as it now does, but strategically, in pursuit of difficult objectives. That could start with the destruction of ISIS in Libya.

More important, Europeans will have to learn that powerlessness can be as corrupting as power—and much more dangerous. The storm of terror that is descending on Europe will not end in some new politics of inclusion, community outreach, more foreign aid….

Another myth to be reversed is the belief that a “European” (or, more accurately) EU identity is something around which people will rally in their efforts to push back against terrorism.

The degree to which EU “citizens”, to use that misleading term, feel that they have a “European” identity varies from country to country (there’s an interesting chart on that here), but, where it does exist it is, for the most part, a ‘soft’ loyalty, a source of satisfaction, perhaps, or even pride, but lacking the emotional power of the older, deeper attachment to nation-state that the EU is doing its best to consign to the past.

It will not be enough. 

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