Friday, March 24, 2006

Be Careful What You Ask For:

Nationalism, Isolationists and World Wars

Francis Fukyama warns people in Europe to be careful what they ask for because they might get it. Basically, he says what we all know: the world does not function without the US providing the strong arm of security and global trade and recent years have shown a greater proclivity for isolationist and nationalist behavior on our part. That's never been good for global economics (usually leads to depression economics) and, worse, every time we've done that in the last 100 years, some big, nasty, sadistic S.O.B usually starts trying to take over the world, kills millions of people and generally starts world wars. Europe forgets how often the big nasty started with them first.

Frankly, we all know what that big nasty will be and we know that Europe will again be number one on the list: Islamists. I just hope we never have to say, "I told you so" because it will likely be over the bodies of our men and women as we rush in to save them one more time. That is, after we sit around dithering about intervention circa 1939.

In this case, it's not just the US that is suffering from Isolationist and nationalist tendencies. Europe continues to see socialist protectionism in the job market drive down economics and productivity while driving up unemployment. To combat this problem, the French have decided to try new labor laws that permit people to be fired before two years have passed. Something that is completely unheard of in the US where most states have adopted laws that allow people to be fired or hired without reason, though we all know othe labor laws protect against discrimination and generally make the companies jump through hoops to document the "cause" regardless of the law. In Europe, that starts riots.

But that isn't the only issue that is promoting nationalism and isolation in Europe. Immigration is high and the unemployed (as well as the usual suspects in crime) largely come from this group. Not to mention the issue of terrorist cells and terrorist activities. This has seen the rise of many ultra nationalist groups. The isolationists have long existed in Europe, demanding tough trade laws and tariffs against American produce, beef and other products as well as insisting on remaining separate from other US activities such as Iraq as well as insisting on limiting their involvement in Afghanistan.

Historically, Europeans have been much more susceptible to ultra-nationalist tendencies. Particularly when long periods have passed between the last great European ultra-nationalist uprising. These groups have never needed large party membership to get their message across and become accepted by the general population. All they need is a weak economy, a little mayhem and a message that includes making the trains run on time, work for every man, soup in every bowl and "law and order". Then, voila, they get a few seats in parliament and it's down hill from there.

Another tell-tale sign that isolationism and nationalism are alive and well in Europe is the rejection of Turkey into the EU. Fears that more immigrants taking more jobs at cheaper wages or being jobless and sucking off the European, socialist, cradle to grave teat are what really fueled this rejection, regardless of insistance that Turkey does not meet EU standards for freedom and human rights. Turkey itself is suffering from a mild case of nationalism.

Where does it lead us?

This is the time, the place and the events that we should fear most. When the US becomes isolationist, world economy falters and brings on depressions, not just recession, in this country and around the globe. That's when some European decides they know how to run the world the right way and starts trying to do it. No European nation is in a position to do so. Yet, Germany required little time to build up its military. It would require little for any of the European nations to do the same. Despite insistence that they learned from history. In the US, we have learned little from our experiences with isolationism.

It may be that Islamist movements are what tips the scale whether that is Islamists inside Europe driving an independent, sub nationalism or whether the effect causes the creation of a "European" nationalist movement. It may be that Islamists are able to effectively control Middle East governments and finally develop the one ideology that brings Islamic nations together. Only this time it won't be the "Third Reich", but the "Third Caliphate". This may threaten Europe that finds itself weakened and unable to resist due to its self imposed pacifism.

There is an ugly possibility that history will repeat itself.

What will America do then? Will we have decided that adventures in the Middle East are too costly and withdraw to our own borders? Will we decide to stand outside and watch as Europe is swallowed by the next pillaging horde looking for "one world order"? Until we realize it won't stop with Europe? Have we ever been good at recognizing the possibility until we're so late to the battle we have to fight tooth and nail to prevent it?

Many would have it that Iraq is due to the strength and nationalism of the US, not a real necessity. A trumped up war for expansionist reasons. But, is it really? Is this just the "last" little war that leads to American withdrawl of military power and the eventual rise of one or more rivals with much less proclivity for freedom?

Will the European trains run on time after all?

Fukyama does not go far enough in his piece when he warns the Europeans to be careful what they wish for when it comes to American isolationist tendencies. For a man that wrote "the end of history" he does not remind them enough of that history. Maybe because, to do so, he'd have to refute the idea that "history" ended with the collapse of the Soviet Republic. I've never agreed with him on that subject. It never really ended. The same players exist. They want the same things. They've just changed their names. Communism and socialist nationalism still exist. A new fascist ideology exists.

History does not repeat itself, but we tend to make the same kinds of mistakes.

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