Crash an airliner into the dome of St. Peter’s or knock down the Eiffel Tower tomorrow: Europe has no mechanism to hunt down the perpetrators in the Hindu Kush, the Bekka Valley, or the wilds of Iran—much less, like the United States, to hold a rogue regime responsible.
Frustrated by its lack of military resources, but cognizant of the classical need to warn an enemy that more is to be lost than won from starting a war, France is reduced to bluster about nuclear weapons—threats that probably are either not believed or welcomed by the jihadists. In lieu of a credible military, Europe will send more tiny contingents to Afghanistan, remind the world that Britain and France are nuclear, and somehow hurry up to construct a conventional deterrent where there is now none at all.
Finally, the Europeans who despised the unilateral and preemptory George Bush will start to grate at his new multilateral side even more. Be careful what you wish for, especially when an American leader may now not necessarily be such an easy target of caricature—or may not always do the dirty work of fighting jihadists from Pakistan to the Sunni Triangle.
Instead, by letting the Europeans take the lead with the Iranian negotiations, and keeping nearly silent about the cartoon hysteria, the United States essentially has told the Europeans, “Here is the sort of restrained sober and judicious global diplomacy that you so welcome.”
Because of slated troop withdrawals from European bases, and a new American weariness with the old anti-Americanism, some Europeans are beginning to recoil at the idea that they might well be on their own—and in a war against fanatical enemies that they have appeased and without rational friends that they have estranged.
In response, we may see less of the anti-American rhetoric and a return to the Cold War slogans of a “strong Atlantic Alliance” and “an essential Nato,” as nuclear jihadists replace the fear of 300 Soviet divisions.
So now Europe is being thrust right into the middle of the so-called war against Islamic fascism. Once threatened, it will either react with a newly acquired Churchillian maturity to protect its civilization, or cave, in hopes that even more Chamberlain-type appeasement will satisfy the Islamists.
It should be a fascinating spring ahead.
Let's hope so. (Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day.)