Day By Day

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Community of Values

NRC.NL, the Dutch News Service, has a revealing piece on Guantanamo today. It asks:
Should the Netherlands assist the US with the closure of the Guantanamo prison? For example, by housing former detainees whose lives would be put at risk should they be repatriated to their own countries? When it was the Bush administration asking for help, the request could be brushed aside. The question will, however, become more complicated when it is posed by the incoming US president Obama. The new president starts with a clean slate next week - and so will the transatlantic relationship.

The article urges the government to accept the former detainees, just as Germany and Portugal have agreed to do, in the name of international humanitarianism.

What is interesting is the current position of the Dutch elites. Hysterical accusations that the United States was crushing the human rights of the detainees coupled with an obstinate refusal to assist the Bush administration in solving the problem. One gets the impression that the Dutch were less interested in the rights of the detainees than in having a convenient cudgel with which to bash Bush.

And what of the new attitude, now that "The One" is ascending to the Presidency? Their reasoning:

Obama appears to be prepared to put an end to the exceptional legal status of this group of detainees. The ad hoc military jurisdiction seems to be on its way to being scrapped. That is a step of great importance. The weakened image of the US would thereby be restored, to that of a constitutional state respectful of the rule of law and as a model democratic nation.
And if Obama also abandons other Bush and Clinton era programs like rendition it would affirm the status of the United States as a member of a Western "community of values".

Read the whole thing here.

And there we get to the core of the argument. To European political elites the corporate term, "The West" represents a "community of values" in which the weakest members get to define the terms of membership. This "community" would replace strategic alliances, national interests, economic relationships and all other such real-world constructs. But, as the Dutch citizenry is learning, the real world does not go away and it does not submit to legalistic fantasies. Right now the Euro-fantasists see Obama as one of their own. In future months, if we are lucky, they will be sorely disillusioned.


Rob Dawson has an interesting take on the European [and American Euro-phile] naive and almost religious faith in the efficacy of talk, talk, talk.
You have to understand that Europeans have convinced themselves that any armed struggle against Islamist terrorists is ultimately self-defeating. They believe that killing one breeds a hundred more. It’s not clear why they actually believe this, but placating their large and growing domestic Islamic radical population is likely part of this. If you can’t fight them, all that’s left is to talk to them. This has led to the second European belief: that talking can solve all problems. This quasi-religious belief in diplomacy generally seems to involve only one side (the Jews or the West) providing concessions.
Read it here.