Via Andrew I came across this Hanson interview with Michael Totten. A lot of it is ridiculous, and some of it is appalling, but it is an instructive glimpse inside the cocoon where Europeans are apparently all perfidious anti-Semites, Obama is even weaker against foreign threats than the weak Europeans, and Obama simply goes along with whatever the prevailing global mood happens to be.
What is remarkable about the interview is that Totten and Hanson simply feed off one another and reinforce each other’s nonsense. There is not one probing or challenging question for Hanson in the entire interview. Totten does not object when Hanson says, “We’re only 65 years from the Holocaust. Europe is still anti-Semitic, and Israel is on its own except for the United States.” This sort of blanket condemnation of an entire continent for rank prejudice is as sloppy and false as it gets, and it gets dropped into the conversation as if Hanson were discussing the weather.
There is a casual, automatic anti-Europeanism in the U.S. that has mutated in the last decade into something truly rancid and destructive. It shouldn’t need to be said, but anti-Semitism in Europe has been removed to the margins of society and politics in pretty much every EU member state. There are some protest parties that traffic in this garbage, but they remain marginal because of it, and even some of the nationalist and anti-immigration parties in western Europe go out of their way to declare support for Israel because this aligns with their own opposition to Muslim immigration. Americans don’t have to like European views on Israel and Palestine, but we shouldn’t employ cheap, baseless smears of all Europeans as the “explanation” of why they take a different view.
No less nonsensical is the discussion Hanson and Totten have regarding Obama and foreign policy. This passage captures just how far removed from reality both of them seem to be:
VDH: This a confusing period. There’s a lot of irony. Look back at the period when Europe had it both ways, when we defended them while they mouthed off, when they undermined us and Bush pushed back.
Now compare that to what Obama is doing. He’s almost smiling while selling out Europe. He’s trying to become even more left than they are on foreign policy [bold mine-DL]. On one hand, the Europeans are getting what they deserve, but they are Westerners, they are a positive force in the world, and what we’re doing is dangerous.
MJT: It seems to unnerve the Europeans now that Obama is to their left.
VDH: It does.
MJT: They seem uncomfortable being to the right of the United States in some ways.
Of course, neither of them elaborates on any of this, because there is nothing they can cite as evidence for this silly idea. Even though there is no reason to believe any of this, they are content to agree that Obama is trying to be more left-wing on foreign policy than Europeans. They say this at the same time that Obama continues to push harder on Iran’s nuclear program and missile defense in Europe than most governments in Europe actually want, and they completely ignore that Obama has been dragging NATO allies to support the war in Afghanistan very much against the popular desires of most European nations. They talk about Obama “selling out Europe” as if this were an obvious reality, when it is an insane, ideological distortion of the last year and a half to say that the administration has been “selling out Europe.”
Selling out Europe to whom? To the Russians with whom Europeans have been steadily expanding their trade over the last decade? Most members of NATO never wanted the Czech/Polish missile defense installations, which is why they had to be negotiated through bilateral agreements. Most European governments did not want to try to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO (and Germany made sure that it didn’t happen two years ago). At most, Obama has moved the U.S. slightly in the direction of most of Europe with respect to continued NATO expansion, but officially Washington remains far more interested in expansion than the Europeans are. Very few European governments perceive Iran’s nuclear program to be the threat that Washington does. Obama is foolishly pushing for Iranian isolation at the same time that some European countries are increasing economic exchange with Iran, so how has he been trying to get to “the left” of Europe?
For his part, Totten doesn’t seem to know what’s going on:
If ganging up on Israel is the popular thing to do, he’ll do it. If the Organization of American States wants to isolate Honduras, Obama doesn’t want to be only the head of the state in the hemisphere doing the opposite. That might make the United States look it’s returning to Yankee imperialism again, even if it’s not true.
Each time there has been widespread international condemnation of Israel since Obama took office, and long before that, Obama has quite conventionally and predictably taken Israel’s side or at the very least said nothing. Totten will search in vain for administration condemnations of Operation Cast Lead, but he will find Obama specifically rejecting the Goldstone report. The administration had essentially nothing to say about the Dubai assassination, and obviously in the aftermath of the flotilla raid the U.S. has sided quite clearly with the Israeli government. Even in squabbles over settlement policy when Netanyahu deliberately and repeatedly ignored and publicly defied Washington, the administration relented quite quickly. Initially, the administration joined the OAS in condemning Zelaya’s deposition as a coup. I thought this was a serious mistake, but it ultimately didn’t amount to much. The provisional government stepped aside, elections were held, and Honduras now has a new, legitimate president. Ever since Lobo’s election, Washington has defended the results of the new Honduran election despite the vocal protests of Brazil and many other Latin American governments. Totten has taken two good examples of how Obama does not just “go along to get along” and used them to claim that he does exactly this.
The nonsense that Totten and Hanson casually spout in this interview is worth addressing because it is unfortunately quite typical and representative of the quality of foreign policy analysis and discussion on the right these days: heavy on ludicrous assertions and extremely light on any supporting evidence.