By Hans Vogel
Do you remember Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale about the Emperor's new clothes?
After spending dazzling fortunes on a new set of exquisite clothes, made by the world's finest tailors, the emperor decided to parade through the streets of his capital, dressed in his new outfit. In fact, his tailors had fooled him and used the money they received for anything but the promised delicate materials. They just pretended to be cutting, sewing and adjusting imaginary fabrics. Thus the emperor went on parade stark naked, with the entire court pretending to admire his clothes. The populace was stunned to see their respected ruler in the buff, but nobody dared to admit what he was seeing. Except for this little boy who exclaimed the emperor went around naked. Only then did the crowd dare to say that, indeed, it was seeing a crowned, but naked man, instead of their emperor dressed in full sartorial splendor.
It would seem the celebration of NATO's sixtieth anniversary is a modern version of this fairy tale. “Mr Change” Obama had come to the party to ask for help from his clients in fighting the hopeless war in Afghanistan. Mr. Change did not come to ask for small change but real big time money. Millions of dollars and Euros in fact, in order to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan. And in addition he sought more men, more weapons and a firm pledge of help from the “NATO partners” that had always been ever so obsequious.
While parts of the city of Strasbourg were being set ablaze by angry protesters shouting “NO TO NATO”, the NATO political and military leaders were listening politely to Mr. Change's frantic calls for help and trying to find ways to avoid giving it. One NATO country pledged a dozen police officers to help train the struggling Afghan constabulary, soon outdone by another member promising to send 35 police officers. France, that has just rejoined NATO's military structure after withdrawing from it in 1966, would send no more than 150 fresh troops to Afghanistan. Surely Mr. Change must have returned to the White House a very, very disappointed man. For the first time since NATO was founded in 1949, a US president has met with a virtual rebuff from his European vassals. Sounds a bit like rebellion does it not?
During a meeting with the “European Union” (many of whose members are also NATO clients) Mr. Change publicly suggested the EU should speedily admit Turkey as a member. This would be good for Europe. Preoccupation for Europe's best interest on the part of US politicians, officials and pundits is always suspicious. I vividly recall the endless series of US economists and politicians trying to protect the Europeans against themselves and arguing strongly against the introduction of the euro as Europe's single currency. This made me conclude the euro was probably a good thing for Europeans, since the US was so adamantly opposed to it. Mr. Change (like his predecessor Bush II) also still seems to want to protect the poor Europeans against incoming missiles from the evil Iranians. With friends like that, who needs enemies? In an unexpectedly blunt reaction, French president Sarkozy told Mr. Change that the member states of the EU would decide themselves which new states were to be admitted. Leaders of the Bavarian Social Democrats were even harsher in their comments, suggesting Mr. Change loved Turkey so much, he should admit it as the 51st state of the US, but refrain from mingling in EU affairs.
Only a year ago, such remarks would have been unthinkable. Giving a snappy answer to the overlord from Washington would have been political suicide. What happened to the old NATO spirit of slavish submission?
It would seem the Europeans are finally realizing their emperor has no clothes. Mr. Change has inherited a wrecked economy and huge debts from his asinine predecessor. He had no choice, therefore, but to come to London to beg the G20 for money, to ask them to please, engage in as irresponsible a financial policy as he has himself embarked upon. So far, the Europeans have had to pay for the lunatic fallacies of US political adventurism only indirectly, by their attachment to the dollar system. The introduction of the euro was a first step toward liberation from the dollar, but now that the dollar is on the verge of collapse and the cost of US interventionism is rising even more steeply, it seems the Europeans are calling it quits.
They have allowed themselves to be dragged along into comic strip-like adventures. Since 2001, the Europeans (and a few dozen other US clients) are trying to find Bin-Laden, who is really none other than the Green Goblin (Spiderman's evil opponent), or Lex Luthor (Superman's nemesis). Only a child, or a person with a childish brain would still believe there is an evil genius hidden somewhere in a cave planning attacks against Gotham City, sorry, the US.
Now that the Bin-Laden fairy tale is wearing a bit thin, the US has shifted its attention in Afghanistan to destroying the Taliban. What has happened to Al-Qaeda? Weren't they the bad guys out there in the barren mountains of Eastern Afghanistan, in Tora Bora and all those other mysterious places? But all right, let's settle for the Taliban. Though initially depicted as ruthless, fanatical islamicists, now it seems the US intelligence community has discovered a “moderate Taliban”, as if one could find a hypothetical “moderate Christian fundamentalist” in the Bible Belt! Even more bewildering is the uncritical ease with which “Western” media have adopted the term “moderate Taliban” and are referring to it cursorily in their reporting and analyses.
What is going on here? I believe we are witnessing the full development of traditional US small-town settler paranoia that sees enemies and conspiracies everywhere. Back in the early days of the republic, the settlers saw British enemies behind every bush and under every bed. It forced about one third of the US population to seek refuge in Canada, where they found a more congenial political climate.
On the eve of the Great War of 1914, there was widespread fear in the US of the “Black Hand”, the secret Serb organization striving for the creation of a Yugoslav state. Immediately after the war, the US was in the grips of the “Red Scare”, a massive witch hunt of communists and socialists suspected of wanting to unleash a revolution. During World War II, the communists had been transformed magically into dear allies, but now the Nazis were seen as the embodiment of evil. After the defeat of Nazi Germany and the massive enrollment in US service of tens of thousands of Nazi scientists, scholars, soldiers and spies, it was the communists again who were seen as public enemy number one. Then in the 1960s the Mafia and Cosa Nostra were put on the list of dangerous, secretive organizations, like the Communist party, and the Nazi party from 1941 to 1945. Hidden. Invisible. Secret. Evil. These are the catch words associated with the favorite enemies of the US. Individual enemies of the US state invariably and traditionally have had dark skins (Sitting Bull, Augusto Sandino, Malcolm X, Manuel Noriega), facial hair (Ho Chi Minh, Karl Marx, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler, Stalin) or both. Bin-laden perfectly fits the mold. The only foreigners with facial hair who are not considered enemies of the US are Jesus Christ and Santa Claus.
It must be confusing to the people of the US that now, they have a president who somehow fits the description of the typical enemy, but who also has some characteristics of a US president. He is clean-shaven, well-groomed and wears suits and ties, but he is dark skinned and his father was a foreigner. He may even be a foreigner himself, but any possible evidence is being suppressed.
But to Europeans, Mr. Change looks familiar. Not like the kind of person they fear but rather like someone they tend to look down on: like some politician from a poor, corrupt African republic hooked on handouts and aid from Europe. Most African politicians come to Europe to ask for money and favors and usually they receive some. Obama also came to Europe asking for money and favors, but he was asking more than any look-alike from Africa. That was the moment the Europeans realized the emperor had no clothes and that was when they said “no”. Perhaps the very way Mr. Change looks has made it easier for Europeans to stand up to him. Most European politicians being closet racists, it must be difficult for them to deal with Obama in a way that is different from how they are dealing with African politicians. Mr. Change has been duly repeating the same old silly fairy tales about foreign conspiracies as all his predecessors. But it took a dark-skinned president to make the Europeans realize the emperor was not dressed properly. Bush II, Clinton, Bush I, Reagan, Carter, e tutti quanti, did not wear clothes either, but they were not tanned.
Therefore, I would suggest Mr. Change needs a new change of clothes, but I am afraid it is already too late for that.
Unilateral alliances are a rule in the history of US-Latin America relations. As well as in the US's relations all over the world.