A few days ago, Henryk M. Broder wrote in the Welt am Sonntag, "Europe ? thy name is appeasement." It's a phrase you can't get out of your head because it's so painfully true.
Appeasement cost millions of Jews and Gentiles their lives as England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated far too long before realizing that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to agreements. Appeasement stabilized the Communist Soviet Union and the former East Germany, those parts of Eastern Europe where inhuman, suppressive governments were glorified as the ideological alternative. Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo, and we debated and debated and were still debating when the Americans finally came in and did our work for us. Rather than protecting the only democracy in the Middle East, European appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," relativizes the fundamentalist Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel. Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to condone the 300,000 victims of Saddam's torture and murder machinery in Iraq and condemn the actions of George Bush in the self-righteousness of the peace movement. And in the end it is also appeasement at its most grotesque when Germany reacts to the escalating violence of Islamic fundamentalists in Holland and elsewhere by proposing a national Muslim holiday.
What else has to happen before the European public and its political leadership realize that there is a form of crusade underway, an especially perfidious one of systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims targeting civilians, directed against our free, open Western societies. This is a conflict that will likely last longer than any of the great military conflicts of the last century, waged by an adversary who cannot be tamed by tolerance and accommodation but is instead spurred on by such gestures, mistaking them as signs of weakness.
Two recent American presidents had the courage needed for staunch anti-appeasement: Reagan and Bush. Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, and Bush ? supported only by the persuasive Social Democrat politician Tony Blair ? recognized the danger in the Islamic war against democracy. His place in history will need to be evaluated a number of years down the road.
In the meantime, Europe snuggles into its multicultural niche instead of defending the values of a liberal society with charismatic certitude and acting as a positive center of power in a delicate balance between the true global powers, America and China. We instead present ourselves as the world champions of tolerance against the intolerants, which even Otto Schily [Germany's former Federal Minister of the Interior] justifiably criticizes. And why, actually? Because we're so moral? I fear it's more because we're so materialistic.
For his policies, Bush risks the devaluation of the dollar, huge amounts of added national debt, and a massive and lasting strain on the American economy ? because everything is at stake.
Yet while America's so allegedly materialistic robber baron capitalists know their priorities, we timidly defend the benefice of our social affluence. Just stay out of it; it could get expensive. We'd rather discuss our 35-hour workweek or our dental coverage or listen to televangelists preach about the need to "Reach out to murderers." These days, it sometimes seems that Europe is like a little old lady who cups her shaking hands around her last pieces of jewelry as a thief breaks in right next door. Europe, thy name is Cowardice.