Analysis: Europeans don't 'get' war

June 10, 2010 13:52

My primary realisation of this week has been how many naval-boarding experts you can meet on any given day. My second is how many Europeans don't understand this matter at all.

The American strategist Robert Kagan famously described Americans as being from Mars and Europeans from Venus. Coverage of Israel's naval actions in the British/European press reminded me of this. Defending yourself seems simply "so 20th century".

There used to be a belief that nation states had boundaries they were permitted to patrol which, when breached, could be protected by force. Since the end of the Second World War, and during the Cold war, this perfectly natural state of affairs began to look dated to the transnational progressives whose natural habitats were universities and government. Europeans lived under the protective umbrella of American power, and though wars - both hot and cold - were fought, the idea that nation states in Europe could ever again fight boundary conflicts seemed ridiculous.

Some of us armchair warriors like to point out that if Belgium were a terror state lobbing rockets into France, and France had a naval blockade to stop arms getting into Belgium, then France would have the right to stop Belgian nautical naughtiness by force. A good point well made, we think, and settle back. Except that even if it were a great point, it's a point usually made to the wrong audience. For many modern Britons and Europeans, the very idea of Belgium, France or Britain having any war is laughable.

Surely if Belgium were (ho-ho) to become engaged in the use of terroristic force, then France would reason with them?

Were Monsieur Sarkozy to have no luck then an international task-force of European statesmen from the Liberal Democrat party of Britain or perhaps Sinn Fein of Ireland would be sent to explain to the hot-headed Flems and Walloons that this just won't do. And if the ministrations of such allies didn't halt the offence then France would have to regretfully deploy its weapon of last resort. It would send in lawyers.

Whole boatfuls of barristers would embark from Calais. Phalanxes of international legal experts would be winched into Belgian spraying out writs and subpoenas. Recipients would be forced to appear before judges in Strasbourg. And so the conflict would end.

Europeans no longer live under one umbrella. With the power mirage of the European Union they live under the umbrella of an umbrella. Convinced that conflict is irrational they look at Israeli actions, first wonder, and then rage.

Will we Europeans wake from this dream? Perhaps. But as the delusion continues it is hard not to wonder whether it will happen before the historical hatred which seeks to destroy Israel succeeds. And comes – as it indeed promises – for us next.

June 10, 2010 13:52

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