Where's The Restroom?

And again:

…President Obama’s outreach to the Europeans – talking up the Continent’s “leadership” in the world and managing to keep a straight face while doing it – went unreciprocated. When it came to the good war – Afghanistan, the one the anti-Iraq types claim to be in favor of – Nato, a “military” “alliance” of 28 countries, rewarded the impeccable multilateralist with an extra 5,000 troops – or approx 180 soldiers per nation. And by “soldiers” they don’t mean men with guns who fire them at the enemy but “non-combat” forces who man the photocopier back at the barracks while the Third Infantry Division and a few brave lads from Britain, Canada and a couple of other places are up in the hills sticking it to the Taliban all day long. Our allies are happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with us, as long as there are a couple of provinces between their shoulders and ours.

On the other hand, the Obama happy talk seemed to go down well with the North Koreans, who promptly held one of their missile tests, and with members of the piratical community, who seized an American vessel for the first time in a couple of centuries. As the New York Times headline writer put it: “Standoff With Pirates Shows U.S. Power Has Limits.”

Well, all power has limits. Today, the salient feature of the modern world is the urge to self-limit. The wealthiest jurisdictions on the planet have no “power” as it’s conventionally understood – and, indeed, that’s the point: They’re projecting post-power power, which, being that it’s non-existent, has no limits whatsoever. In 2002 the Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen gave a speech in London saying that “the EU must not develop into a military superpower but must become a great power that will not take up arms at any occasion in order to defend its own interests.” Good luck with that. Mr Lipponen objected to my derision by suggesting I’d missed some subtle nuances of his along the way, but for the life of me I can’t see what they are. Aside from anything else, anyone urging a Continent capable of “taking up arms” would be up against basic Euro-math: You can have massive welfare or a credible military, but not both. Indeed, with Europe’s deathbed demography, the former is barely affordable even without the latter.

Shortly after 9/11, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister, John Manley, conceded that his country was dining in the best restaurants without paying its way – or, as he put it, “You can’t just sit at the G8 table and then, when the bill comes, go to the washroom.” That’s the sort of straight talk politicians do when they want to sound as if they’re getting real but have no intention of doing so. And so the horrors of 9/11 faded, and Canada and Europe resumed their habit of dining at the Nato table and stampeding for the washroom when the check came. The idea that Continental nations are going to find money to upgrade their militaries any time soon is delusion: A few years ago, the US spent 3.4 per cent of GDP on defense, the other Nato members spent on average 1.9 per cent. The most recent figures show the US spends 4 per cent, while the rest of Nato now averages 1.7 per cent – and it’s mostly high wages for unionized armies keeping it even at that level: The Continental country with the highest defense spending is Greece, and that’s almost all on personnel. The average age of a Belgian soldier is 40 – which at least ensures that the eternal Democrat plaint that we’re sending “our children” into harm’s way is replaced with the faintly surreal alternative of sending our late middle-aged into harm’s way.

Meanwhile, Susan Rice, America’s UN ambassador, urges Iran to “halt its illicit nuclear program” and “take the steps that would enable it to be a responsible member of the international community”. You mean like Belgium or Finland? Lacking the exquisitely refined sensibilities of Mr Lipponen, the mullahs can’t see what’s in it for them.

My old colleague at The Daily Telegraph in London, the historian Sir John Keegan, likes to say that “without armed forces a state does not exist”. The European Union exists only because for half-a-century they’ve been under American military protection: Promoted as a counterweight to the US hegemon, the EU in fact exists only because of it.

So what happens when America embraces Euro-sized government? The US can’t buck the basic arithmetic any more than Sweden can: A social-democratic America at home presupposes cuts in Pax Americana abroad. Those allies in tough neighborhoods – Israel next to Iran; India next to Pakistan; Japan next to North Korea; Eastern Europe in the shadow of a resurgent Russia – have already noted America’s passivity in the face of explicit threats. But eventually Western Europe will, too: at the top table, the big guy is heading for the washroom.

And Arthur Herman on Churchill and “torture”:

… Churchill recognized that torture — the cruel, needless infliction of pain as a means of domination and control of others — was emblematic of man’s barbarism, as opposed to the values of what he called “Christian civilization.” It was precisely this barbarism that he saw in the Nazi death camps and the Soviet gulag — and that we see among the Muslim fanatics who will stone women to death for refusing to wear the veil or behead reporters.

But Churchill also understood that, if barbarism was one enemy of civilization, another was a moral cowardice disguised as moral qualms — an instinctive flinching in the face of danger, dressed up as “upholding our values.”

Churchill had seen this flinching in such 1930s appeasers as Neville Chamberlain, and he feared that he’d see it again among Britons and their leaders after the war.

“There is no place for compromise in war,” Churchill wrote. In choosing between civilized restraint and the British people’s survival, he never hesitated. He contemplated using mustard gas if the Nazis invaded England. He authorized the fire bombing of German cities, the so-called terror bombings, in order to cripple the German war effort and morale. He was prepared to let Mahatma Gandhi die during his hunger strike in 1943 rather than be blackmailed into abandoning India, the last bastion against Japanese domination of Asia.

As for German POWs and spies, Churchill left matters in the hands of his interrogation master, Col. Robin Stephens, nicknamed “Tin Eye” because of his monocle and martinet manner. It’s true that Stephens told his interrogators that “violence is taboo” — the source of Sullivan’s claim that Churchill didn’t allow torture. Stephens, however, felt perfectly free to use every degree of psychological pressure on his detainees, including sleep deprivation and hooding prisoners in solitary confinement for long stretches. He’d have tried women’s bras and caterpillars, like our own interrogators, if he’d thought of it.

But there’s another, more powerful reason why the British didn’t torture their captured German spies. They didn’t have to. Thanks to the Ultra code-breaking program, British MI5 had access to nearly every major German High Command decision. Had Ultra not existed, the attitude toward captured German spies would’ve been a lot less casual. (Sixteen were in fact executed for espionage before war’s end.)

Likewise, if America hadn’t had the Clinton-era intelligence “wall of separation” that prevented the CIA and FBI from sharing information before 9/11, a place like Gitmo might never have been necessary.

Yet those who today denounce Gitmo as an American gulag — including our president — are the ones who complained most bitterly about warrantless wiretaps. They refuse to see that the need for the one resulted from the lack of the other.

“Moral force,” Churchill once said, “is no substitute for armed force, but it is a very great reinforcement.” On this point, Churchill takes his stand firmly on the side of Vice President Dick Cheney and the Bush administration. Flinching from steps necessary to protect a nation’s citizens from barbarous violence doesn’t reinforce our moral values. It’s a way of running from them.

Unfortunately, too many politicians are willing to take to their heels in that race.

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