Saturday, March 31, 2007

Why are the British just sitting there and taking it?

Victor Davis Hanson comments on the seizure of the British sailors and Marines.

‘It’s completely outrageous for any nation to go out and arrest the servicemen of another nation in waters that don’t belong to them.” So spoke Admiral Sir Alan West, former First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy, concerning the present Anglo-Iranian crisis over captured British soldiers. But if the attack was “outrageous,” it was apparently not quite outrageous enough for anything to have been done about it yet.

Sir Alan elaborated on British rules of engagement by stressing they are “very much de-escalatory, because we don’t want wars starting ... Rather than roaring into action and sinking everything in sight we try to step back and that, of course, is why our chaps were, in effect, able to be captured and taken away.”

One might suggest, not necessarily “sinking everything in sight,” but at least shooting back at a few of the people trying to kidnap Britain’s uniformed soldiers. But the view, apparently, is that stepping back and allowing some chaps to be “captured and taken away” is to be preferred to “roaring into action and sinking everything in sight.” The latter is more or less what Nelson did at the battle of the Nile, when he nearly destroyed the Napoleonic fleet.

The attack coincides roughly with Iran’s announcement that it will end its cooperation with U.N. non-proliferation efforts. That announcement was in reaction to a unanimous vote to begin embargoing some trade with Teheran of critical nuclear-related substances. With that move, Ahmadinejad is essentially notifying the world that Iran will go ahead and get the bomb — and let no one dare try to stop them.

If a non-nuclear Iran kidnaps foreign nationals in international waters, we can imagine what a nuclear theocracy will do. The Iranian thugocracy rightly understands that NATO will not declare the seizure of a member’s personnel an affront to the entire alliance.

Nor will the European Union send its “rapid” defense forces to insist on a return of the hostages. There is simply too much global worry about the price and availability of oil, too much regional concern over stability after Iraq, and too much national anxiety over the cost in lives and treasure that a possible confrontation would bring. Confrontation can be avoided through capitulation, and no Western nation is willing to insist that Iran adhere to any norms of behavior.

[. . .]

The latest Iranian kidnapping of British sailors came after British promises to leave Iraq, and after the British humiliation of 2004, when eight hostages were begged back. Apparently the Iranians have figured either that London would do little if they captured more British subjects or that the navy of Lord Nelson and Admiral Jellico couldn’t stop them if it wanted to.

[. . .]

Europe is just one major terrorist operation away from a disgrace that will not merely discredit the EU, but will do so to such a degree as to endanger its citizenry and interests worldwide and their very safety at home. Islamists must assume that an attack on a European icon — Big Ben, the Vatican, or the Eiffel Tower — could be pulled off with relative impunity and ipso facto shatter European confidence and influence. Each day that the Iranians renege on their promises to release the hostages, and then proceed to parade their captives, earning another “unacceptable” from embarrassed British officials, a little bit more of the prestige of the United Kingdom is chipped away.

[. . .]

Quite simply, there is now no NATO, no EU, no U.N. that can or will do anything in anyone’s hour of need.

After the end of World War Two the United States and the European powers took the decision that a disarmed Europe would not go to war with itself again. So they reduced their military spending, demobilized their armed forces and depended upon the United States for their security.

Even after the Soviet Union became a nuclear power and established hegemony over Eastern Europe the Western European nations kept their military expenditures to a bare minimum. The Western European militaries occupied niches in NATO's overall force structure; for example, the UK specialized in anti-submarine warfare.

While each nation had a part to play in a general war against the USSR they were essentially supplementing the US military. After the fall of the Berlin Wall the nations of Europe lowered their military spending even more. The UK is set to mothball half of its already reduced fleet soon. When this happens the UK will have a smaller fleet than any time since the reign of Elizabeth I in the 1500's.

Old Europe has used the money which it has saved by hiding behind the United States to build comfortable welfare states which provide cradle to grave services for their populations. As the need to defend themselves was taken out of their hands and the major needs of life were guaranteed to them by their governments and the big decisions were made for them by bureaucrats the populations fell into a type of perpetual adolescence.

This explains their demographic collapse and the death of heterosexual marriage in Europe. After all why get married to one person and tie yourself down having kids when you can flit from relationship to relationship and if you find someone you want to stay with for the long term why ruin things with children. After all life is too short and there are too many fun things to do to spend more than a decade changing diapers and answering an endless series of "why, why, why" questions.

Raising kids is work for adults. Screwing around is for teenagers, even ones in their 20s, 30s or 40s. Why does a woman need a husband when the state will provide for her and her child and why does a man need a wife when women no longer hold out for a wedding ring before providing the comfort of a domestic life.

The trouble with an arrangement like this is that sooner or later the bill comes due. The storm clouds are already gathering on the horizon for Europe. Their birthrate has already fallen to around half the replacement rate. The populations are aging as advances in medical science, which have mostly come from America, are granting longer lifespans. Older people drawing pensions and needing more, and more expensive, medical care consume ever larger chunks of European national budgets and the ever larger numbers of immigrants from North Africa and the Near and Middle East are not making up the shortfall because nearly 40% of them, and their children down to the third and forth generation, wind up drawing the state's generous welfare benefits.

The Muslim immigrants have been taught by their imams to view welfare as a form of the jizra, the poll tax which non-believers owe to their Muslim masters for the right to live in Muslim countries, and they now view the nations of Europe as Muslim territory.

Europe has become non-sustainable. They have given up their "hard" power (military force) and their "soft" power (diplomatic and economic leverage) is a joke. They depend too heavily upon their business relationships with Islamic nations to prop up their economies for just a little while longer and even if they could muster the courage to respond forcefully to Iran's latest provocation they would fear to kick the hornet's nest of their own Muslim populations.

European elites realize that the only hope Europe has for a future is as part of the larger Islamic world. To this end they will more and more side with nations like Iran, Syria and organizations like Hamas against American and Israeli interests.

NATO is dead and the UN will lose even the occasional ability to be anything but an anti-American dictator's club. It might be possible to hold on to Canada and Australia as allies for some time but the same demographic collapse which is deviling Europe is also haunting them. So even if they stay out of the new Eurabian Caliphate's orbit they will still be facing economic collapse before the middle of the century.

America cannot survive alone against the entire world. We will need new allies in the new century and we need to start cultivating them now. Africa is a disease ridden basket case being torn between unreconstructed socialist governments as in Zimbabwe and Islamofascist thugs like those taking over Niger.

Asia has some possibilities. Taiwan can be a powerful ally if we can keep them from being swallowed by the communist mainland. South Korea has been a friend, but is now so preoccupied with appeasing the North in the hopes of reunification that we probably can't count on them. Japan is a wealthy nation with a great industrial capability, but it is suffering from the same catastrophic fall in birthrate as Europe.

All in all India is the great hope. A population of over a billion people with a surging economy an excellent educational system and Western governmental traditions thanks to their years as a British colony. As they modernize their military with American equipment instead of their current Russian/Soviet junk they will become a formidable modern nuclear power fully able to check China's regional ambitions and assume their share of the coming world war against Islam.

The world order that people like myself were born into in the second half of the twentieth century is all but dead and cannot be brought back. Whether the world which our children and grandchildren grow up in has its roots in Rome, Athens and Jerusalem or in Mecca and Medina is very much an open question. The shape of the world to come will be determined by which side is the most resolute.

The question is are we willing to say "no" one more time than Islam is willing to say "yes" and are willing to back our "no" up with blood and fire and steel?