In the days immediately following September 11, 2001 the outpouring of support from the governments and people of Europe was overwhelming. Americans living in or visiting Europe at the time remember the various Europeans hugging them on the streets and offering them whatever help they could. Today, a little more than two years later, the situation over almost all of Europe is markedly different. Many Europeans and their governments are now hostile, not to Americans they say, but to President Bush and his “cowboy” attitude. What’s different?
On September 11, 2001 the United States of America were suddenly attacked by Islamist terrorists who were funded and harbored by certain governments in the Middle East and had managed to move through the Western world without getting caught. Nearly 3,000 Americans were killed in those attacks, and it was their deaths that caused the outpouring of “support” from the people of Europe.
What were the countries of Europe and the people living in them expecting us to do after such an attack? Given the last fifty years of constant appeasement and meaningless bombings and missile strikes and the even more pathetic non-responses from the countries of Europe, notably France, they probably expected more of the same. Like the Rothbardian “Anarcho-Capitalists” and other like minded Libertarians and Communists in this country, it was generally thought that we, not the terrorists, were responsible for the attacks because of some perceived “meddling” we had done in the past.
I remember the Latin American history teacher I had saying on the morning of the attacks that we should expect nothing else than these attacks when we “terrorize” the rest of the world. So what did they expect and want us to do? Simply, to admit our fault and makes “amends” by withdrawing from world affairs, and in the case of the Rothbardians, dismantle the government, but in the case of the [altruists], they wanted us to hand over all of our wealth to the people killing us.
Enter the “cowboy” George W. Bush.
In some of the most inspiring moments of his presidency, from the days after the attacks up to and including the “Axis of Evil” speech, he laid out the case for defending ourselves in a way that has been lacking since our problems in the Arab world began. Not giving the terrorists money or sending them aid workers, but killing them was to be the goal. When this was expressed for a change the opinion in Europe became hostile.
The sophist philosophers residing in Europe and the United States scoffed at the “simplistic” notions of good and evil that the American President spoke of. [“Simplistic” being the usual smear against the idea of “principles.”] People who were on the brink of total nuclear annihilation by the Soviet Union not more than fifteen years ago suddenly thought wars of self-defense were no longer justifiable. Gore Vidal wrote a book claiming the whole Afghanistan war, and even the September 11 attacks, were part of larger conspiracy to get the oil in the Caspian Sea.
There were a few standout leaders like Tony Blair in England, Berlusconi in Italy, and many of the smaller Eastern European former Warsaw Pact countries. But the majority of countries in Europe and, at least according to polls, the majority of Europeans have been opposed to American attempts to defend herself from her enemies. Luckily their opinions are irrelevant in the determination of American policies (at least they should be), not only because these Europeans and their governments are wrong, but because they only like us when we’re dead.