- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 9, 2003

Here’s a round-up of recent items from the world’s press you may have missed:

(1) In the last two weeks, two Toronto-bound El Al flights had to be diverted to other airports after credible terrorist threats were made about using surface-to-air missiles against them. The Canadian Transport Minister, David Collenette, responded by suggesting the Israeli airline’s service to Pearson International Airport might be ended.

(2) In the bloody attack on the Baghdad hotel of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, much of the death and destruction was caused by French 68-mm missiles — “in pristine condition”, according to one U.S. officer who inspected the rocket tubes and assembly. Saddam had evidently acquired these missiles from the French somewhat (to put it tactfully) recently.

(3) From Le Nouvel Observateur: “In a European Commission poll, 59 percent of Europeans think Israel is the greatest menace to peace in the world.”

(4) In Britain’s Guardian, Tariq Ali ended last week’s column on the mounting American (and NGO) death toll in Iraq thus: “Iraqis have one thing of which they can be proud and of which British and U.S. citizens should be envious: an opposition.”

In the days after September 11, 2001, I wrote that one of the casualties of the day’s events would be the Western alliance: “The U.S. taxpayer’s willingness to pay for the defense of Canada and Europe has contributed to the decay of America’s so-called ‘allies,’ freeing them to disband their armed forces, flirt with dictators and gangster states, and essentially convert themselves to semi-nonaligned.” Two years on, most governments, at least officially, and most commentators, at least in the mainstream press, still don’t believe the relationship between America and its “allies” is in a terminal state. But the above quartet of stories illustrates why it can’t be put back together.

In item No. 1 above, Mr Collenette’s response to terrorists is to take it out on their targets. Terrorists are threatening to use SAMs against El Al? No problem, we’ll get rid of El Al. That’s a great message to send. How soon before similar threats are phoned in to similarly jelly-spined jurisdictions in Europe? Pretty soon El Al won’t be flying anywhere. But no matter: Air Canada and Air France and Lufthansa will still be flying to Tel Aviv. At least until the anonymous phone calls start hinting at fresh targets.

The threats against El Al came via phone calls from the Toronto area from terrorists claiming to have heat-seeking missiles. Police subsequently found a cache of weapons including a German-made shoulder rocket launcher smuggled into Canada through the ingenious method of dropping it in the mail and letting the Post Office deliver it.

So there are two approaches to this problem: You can crack down on local terrorist cells and try to get government agencies not to deliver their rocket launchers; or you can ban El Al. Mr. Collenette inclines to the latter. This is a man, by the way, who marked the first anniversary of September 11 by publicly regretting the fall of the Soviet Union because now there is nobody to check America’s “bullying.”

Lesson: In the war on terror, the United States believes in pre-emption; Canada, like many other “allies”, believes in pre-emptive surrender. These two strategies are incompatible.

As for Item No. 2, Just suppose one of those French rockets had killed Paul Wolfowitz. One of the greatest fictions of the interminable debate on Euro-American differences over Iraq is that it’s an argument about the means, not the end. If only President Bush had been a little less Texan, less arrogant, less bullying, he could have brought the French and Germans around. After all, everyone agrees Saddam Hussein is a very bad man.

Not the French and Germans. There’s too much evidence suggesting the main reason they were unable to join the Bush side in this war is because they had already signed on to the other team and had decided, if they’ll forgive a descent into the ghastly vernacular of the cretinous Yanks, to dance with them what brung you. They’re being admirably consistent about this: At the recent Madrid conference, France and Germany both refused to pony up one single euro to Iraqi reconstruction. It was never about the means, only the end.

Lesson: America and “Old Europe” have different objectives in Iraq, and those objectives are incompatible.

Consider Item No. 3 — 59 percent of Europeans thinking Israel the biggest threat to world peace. Only 59 percent? What’s wrong with the rest of you? But, hey, don’t worry. In Britain, it’s 60 percent; Germany, 65 percent; Austria, 69 percent; the Netherlands, 74 percent. The good news is that Israel won’t be a threat to world peace much longer, at least not if Iran’s nuclear program continues to run rings around the International Atomic Energy Agency and the ayatollahs fulfill their pledge to solve the problem of the Zionist Entity once and for all.

Let us leave for another day the question of whether Israel is really a bigger global menace than North Korea. The fact is that September 11, 2001, bound America to Israel in ways that oblige Washington to regard European distaste for Jews as more than a mere social faux pas. Given the rate of Islamic immigration to Europe, those anti-Israeli numbers are only heading in one direction. At present demographic rates, by 2020 the majority of children in the Netherlands — i.e., the population under 18 — will be Muslim. What do you figure that 74 percent will be up to by then? Eighty-five percent? Ninety-six percent? If Americans think it’s difficult getting the Continentals on their side now, wait another decade. In that sense, the Israelis are the canaries in the coal mine.

Lesson: There is an increasingly compelling demographic logic in Continental hostility to Washington. America’s and Europe’s worldviews are now incompatible.

As for Item No. 4, the house journal of the United Kingdom’s leftie political-media establishment prints the assertion that Americans and Britons can only envy the vigor of the Iraqi “opposition.” So that’s what Howard Dean’s doing wrong. He should be loading up ambulances with rockets and firing them into hospitals. That’s the way to draw attention to the problem of affordable health care.

When I was in the Sunni Triangle, I met many Iraqis who were grateful to the Americans, some who wanted a more visible U.S. presence on the ground, a few who resented the infidel occupier — but not one who was as gung-ho for the Saddamite holdouts and Syrian and Iranian opportunists as the average European columnist. For Tariq Ali, and for Mr. Collenette in Canada, and for most Continental politicians, even on September 11, on the day itself, the issue was never terrorism, the issue was always America.

Lesson: Washington and Europe do not agree on the problem, so they’re hardly likely to agree on the solution.

It’s not about Mr. Bush. It’s about profound changes in Europe and Canada that cannot be reconciled. The “Western alliance” is over.

Mark Steyn is the senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc. Publications, senior North American columnist for Britain’s Telegraph Group, North American editor for the Spectator, and a nationally syndicated columnist.

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