Thomas P.M. Barnett, Pentagon pet intellectual and 4th Generation Warfare theorist, comes up with a new variant of the Eurabia meme I don’t think we’ve seen before. According to Barnett,
Nothing predicts Europe’s growing strategic irrelevancy more than their growing navel-gazing over the perceived threat of “Eurabia,” which speaks to a continent that’s gotten so fat, dumb and lazy that they’re fatalistically succumbing to fears of invasive species destroying their habitat. The reality is, of course, that thriving, self-aware societies can handle that influx and integrate the differences to make the whole stronger.
This is fascinating. All the usual US hard-right tropes are there, until the second sentence. There’s the blithe assumption of economic superiority (no mention, of course, of the US trade deficit with both the EU and China, currently 7% of GDP and climbing fast, nor for that matter the EU’s trade surplus with both..), and the corollary complacency that this will last (no mention of the gap in energy intensity between the US, the EU and Japan, for example). There’s the rhetoric of purity as applied to economics. There’s the complacent assurance of permanent strategic primacy, with (of course) no mention of Iraq or Afghanistan. But the really interesting thing is that he sees people like the Vlaams Belang’s representatives on Earth over at Brussels Journal as part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Which should make Barnett far more worth reading than, say, Mark Steyn or any of the European far-right’s growing Washington lobby. His notions about “the Core and the Gap”, the “sysadmin force” specialised in postconflict reconstruction, counterinsurgency and peacekeeping, etc should make him that anyway. In a sense, I see him as a reasonable man struggling to get out of the husk of a hidebound reactionary, rather like his fellow guerrilla warfare theorist John Robbâ€”they both make sense, but find it necessary to convince themselves and their audience that they aren’t perhaps turning – gasp – European by talking nonsense about nonexistent civil wars and cheese-eating surrender monkeys.
It’s tempting to use a Freudian reading.
Barnett actually knows what is going on, but the preconscious censorship exerted by the superego to comply with the requirements of society won’t accept it. If he was to come out and say that the Eurabia meme is bullshit, he fears, they would point and jeer in the Pentagon canteen, and what would his mother think then? But the repressed always returns, and so out it comes, before the superego claps a chunk of high-grade wingnuttiness on top. Phew! Near thing…
Characterising the hard right in Europe as an exercise in navel-gazing and fear-mongering seems bang on the money to me. As does the statement that thriving, self-aware societies can handle that influx and integrate the differences to make the whole stronger. In fact, it’s what we stand for.
A British point: note that, just as always, the US defence establishment actually favours more European integration. He’s not arguing against a “USE”, is he? Strange that so many Europhobes are convinced official Washington is behind them.