When one looks at the strikes and unrest in France (the pompadour Dominique de Villepin is warning of “revolution”), the rising tensions in Germany over negative growth and unemployment, and collate that with drastic increases in the British tax bite, along with the condition of everything from Austrian banks to Iceland, I don’t think European socialism and its “social contract” hold as much attraction to Americans as Team Obama thinks. We worry about Citibank, but it is a transparent, sober, and judicious institution compared to the cowboyish and self-indulgent lending habits of tottering “regulated” European banks.
Then there is foreign policy. Two things are at work. Misunderstood purveyors of manmade catastrophe are busy to the east. Iran is nearing nuclear capability. In Pakistan (where we offer to those suspected of carrying out manmade catastrophes neither habeas corpus nor the option of waterboarding, but only incineration by Predator drone), the Taliban is making good progress in undermining the government and getting control of a rather large nuclear arsenal. Given recent ballistic missile tests, the distance from Berlin and Paris to Islamabad is shrinking, and very soon Europe could be facing not one, but two Islamic “republics” with nuclear-tipped nukes, who would not take kindly to things like walking out of a U.N. conference while Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is discoursing.
Second, when the Europeans look over here, we can assure them that we are trying to do our best to nationalize our car industry too, and perhaps soon the health and energy sectors as well. Pacifism is okay, if someone else defends you from the likes of Dr. Zawahiri, Mullah Omar, Vladamir Putin, and Mr. Ahmadinejad. But in lieu of messy missile defense, we can at least reference out apologies about dropping the bomb to end World War II in the Pacific and our treatment of Native Americans, and thereby assure the Europeans that we are hoping and changing the world through their own preferred soft-power means.