Of Paradise and Power

The recent thwarted attack on a train traveling through  Europe brought to mind a book written a few years ago by  Robert Kagan titled Of Paradise and Power.

The premise of the book is that Europeans and Americans do not share a common view of the world as a result of the U.S shouldering Europe’s security burden over the last 60 years

Kagan lays out the fact that the US is quicker to use military force, more quickly to use financial incentives and relies less on diplomacy to get the results it wants. In contrast, Europe, places greater emphasis on diplomacy placing greater faith in international law and cooperation which results on more reliance on the United Nations to address complicated issues.

Kagan believes the U.S behaves as it does is because as a powerful nation it has a greater capacity to act in ways that the European nations don’t.  In contrast, the EU looks at the U.N Security Council as its substitute for power.

The relationship between Europe and the U.S radically changed after World War II and the advent of N.A.T.O. where members agreed that an attack against one nation would be considered an attack on all it members. This agreement emerged following Russia’s annexation of East Germany. The prevailing sentiment was fear that Russia, absent deterrence, would continue its expansionist bent. The U.S also set up a base in West Germany to act as a further deterrent to that threat.

The Europeans, realizing that the U.S was going to shoulder the financial and military burden, stopped spending money on defense. Instead, they began spending on social and welfare programs. The European nations sought to make their citizens’ lives easier by offering a smorgasbord of social and welfare services. In addition, they catered to unions and the working class by augmenting benefits to workers.

The result, the European nations have gone soft. Nowadays, it is quite common for European workers to get 30 days paid vacation per year. Simultaneously unwilling to maintain and defend itself, they look to the U.S for protection. Since they no longer have to defend themselves they have a hard time seeing the threats that exist that can harm them.

As a youngster I grew up next to a housing project that was two blocks away from my house. I learned quickly where to go and not to go. But there were times no matter what I did, violence was the only answer. I didn’t win many of these encounters but I was able to defend myself and, for the most part, get away without any real damage. The lessons I learned as a child have forever shaped me as an adult and to this day I am always fully aware of my surroundings. This sixth sense that I developed as kid has forever been my ally. I can literally tell when a con, scam or assault is in the brewing and I am quick to leave those surroundings unscathed. The point I am making is that getting nicked up early in life lead to me a life whereby I now led a personally safe existence.

The agreement that the U.S and Europe struck decades ago has given us a partner not being fully aware of the dangers that exist in the world.

So, it was no shock to me that when that major attack on a European train took take place. It was U.S. serviceman who came to the rescue. Having been trained to be on the lookout for bad guys, and knowing how to defend themselves, they foiled what would have been a major  tragedy and loss of life.

We live in a dangerous place and the U.S has been shouldering the burden and confronting it alone for way too long.

All of us have the duty to confront evil whenever and wherever we encounter it and not expect to outsource this responsibility. Given the influx of immigrants now flooding Europe, 185,00 in the last three months alone, this is going to be a battle the Europeans will have to confront on their own.Their safety will depend on it.

Let’s hope Europeans can remember the responsibility and discover the courage.