Commentary by James H. Shott
After World War I the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan were determined to regain or increase their power and control by taking over neighboring countries. They lulled the trusting and peace-obsessed democracies of Western Europe into a false sense of security by promoting themselves as the defense mechanism against Communism. Consequently, the countries of Western Europe paid little attention to the Axis’ early aggressive actions, and before long, they were immersed in World War II.
The Axis brought death and destruction to Europe and the Pacific, and the nations of Western Europe could not stop them. And then in 1941 the Japanese made a crucial mistake and attacked the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor, bringing America into the war. Three years later the US and the Allies ended the war in Europe. The Japanese refused to give up, however, despite the fact that its navy had been decimated in the Pacific. It took the US dropping atomic bombs on two of their cities to convince the Japanese to surrender.
Western Europe was too trusting. It sacrificed its national security for the dream of unattainable peace, and it paid a terrible price for that naïve position.
You might expect that horrible experience to have taught Western Europe to be more vigilant, more sensitive to threats and more protective of their national security. And perhaps things might have worked out that way, had the United States not become the world’s guardian for the next 65 years.
The nation that saved Europe from itself in WWII became the most powerful nation in the world, the nation most responsible for defending the free world from aggression by evildoers. The Europeans, with the exception of our dependable ally Great Britain, were content for the US to defend their interests during the Cold War and against every other threat, while they lived in peace and comfort.
But even as the US protected them, many Europeans resented us. Some observers have suggested that for them to give the United States its due, they would have to admit their own fecklessness, and Europe was much too proud for that.
Since the mid-1940s Europeans have lived in a cozy little world, free of threats from rogue nations, under the protection of the US and NATO. In this soft, comfortable environment, the strong and venerable cultures of Europe have devolved into a secular mush, their natural-born citizens dying away and being replaced with immigrants from the Middle East, some of them militant Islamists. Europe is weak and complacent, unaware of the threats staring it down, unwilling and militarily unprepared to do anything about them once they are recognized.
While Europe condemns us from its position of comfort and security, the US and its few allies are left to protect the world from harm.
But the bad guys are never far away, and as April dawned North Korea, in contravention of a United Nations resolution, threatened to launch a missile supposedly carrying a communications satellite. Experts suspect that they were really testing an ICBM with the capacity to deliver a nuclear warhead to a target thousands of miles away.
And what did the world’s guardian do? Prior to the launch President Obama issued a strongly worded statement warning North Korea to obey the UN resolution. "Rules must be binding,” he said. “Violations must be punished. Words must mean something. The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons. Now is the time for a strong international response."
Predictably, North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Il, ignored both the UN and the President and launched the missile. And the strong response from the international community, the UN, and the US was … nothing.
As then-vice presidential candidate Joseph Biden said during the campaign, "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they (sic) did John Kennedy. The world is looking.” Mr. Biden’s words are not always so prescient and sensible.
A Rasmussen poll of voters shows that 39 percent are very concerned, and 73 percent are at least somewhat concerned, that once North Korea develops nuclear weapons it will use them against the US. And North Korea’s closest neighbors, Japan, China and South Korea, are very concerned about their security.
Mr. Obama’s recent rhetoric while groveling abroad indicates he views the world more like the Europeans who regard the US with disdain. He is embarrassed by our success and stature in the world, and apologized for it at every stop on his tour. This performance is a dramatic departure from the strong American leaders who built and maintained US dominance, and who successfully opposed threats like the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
Europe is still too complacent to distinguish threats and impotent to do anything about them. The free world cannot survive Barack Obama abandoning the leadership position the United States earned through strength, toughness and sacrifice, and turning it into a European Mini-Me. Too much depends upon the US President knowing how to be strong, understanding why it is important to be strong, and having the courage to be strong.
Cross-posted from Observations