Giulio MeottiThe writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter and of "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books.. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary.
The best analysis of the current state of Western weakness was published by an Arab newspaper recently. I am not joking. It is an article run by The National, an Arab Emirate newspaper, and it is authored by Sholton Byrnes.
He writes about the Munich Security Conference which exposed European nerviness about the Trump administration’s fragile commitment to Nato. “Does the West deserve to survive?” asks Byrnes.
Militarily, Europe is weak and in retreat: while the US spends 3.6 per cent of GDP on defence, only five Nato countries meet the 2 per cent of GDP threshold all member states are supposed to commit. Europe is an unreliable ally also when it comes to foreign policy. “They may have good reason to voice reservations, such as when France stood against the disastrous invasion of Iraq”, says Byrnes. “Still, many Americans clearly resented the lack of support, as the designation of the French as ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’ and of French fries as ‘freedom fries’ in the House of Representatives cafeteria showed.”
In short, Europe will have to start pulling its weight. “It will be objected that the definition of the West consists of far more than the security alliance that underpins it. Does it not also mean Shakespeare and Schopenhauer, liberal democracy, a progressive interpretation of human rights, all springing from the soil of centuries of Roman-Judaeo-Christian tradition? The West was once the inheritor of Christendom. Today, it is not entirely sure what it is, with many voices violently clashing over their views of what it should be. It lacks the certainty in its own civilisation that Russia and China, for instance, possess. If it is too tired or unwilling to defend itself, the US will survive for sure; but the concept of ‘the West’ will have dissolved through the apathy of societies who will have shown they have no courage – and not many convictions either.”
We hide under the banner of international law and of perpetual peace, two evanescent myths, the renunciation of the justification to fight and to kill when necessary.
Byrnes points at the deeper phenomenon with which we have been dealing: the West is tired. I am not talking about the gurus who have prophesied an economic decline. No, we are truly morally exhausted, we live off of technology and services, we are all potential retirees, the words that count for us are volunteering, solidarity, equality, hospitality, vacation, social protection, insurance, welfare, right to health.
Islamic extremists smile at us with words such as discipline, obedience, tradition, orthodoxy, valor, loyalty, honor.We are irritated by the very idea of a common civilization. We cultivate the libertarian suggestion of living habits inspired by self-interest, to an individualism that dissolves only in the swarm.
We are exhausted, Islam is not. We hide under the banner of international law and of perpetual peace, two evanescent myths, the renunciation of the justification to fight and to kill when necessary.
We don’t live in nations, but in societies. And these are characterized by life as the supreme good. In this context, peace becomes the supreme goal, whatever it costs. Peace in the sense of “leave us in peace”.
It is still possible that the existential self-defense of the Jews of Israel and the combative reaction of the Americans will turn things around. But I would not count on Western Europe.
The West wants to be left alone.