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Jewish World Review Oct. 1, 2002 / 25 Tishrei, 5763

Laura Ingraham

Laura Ingraham
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Euro-worries about wall flower status | "New U.S. Doctrine Worries Europeans" declares a headline on the cover of yesterday's Washington Post. Referring to the Bush Administration's recent statement that it reserves the right to carry out preventative military strikes against nations or groups seeking to do us harm, various European "think tanks" and government officials are grumbling about feeling left out of the discussion. One senior European official bemoaned that the new US message to Europe is: "You are becoming irrelevant, and unless you do something dramatic to raise your defense expenditure, this is the end. The phone is not ringing."

Were it only so that we were so unequivocal with Europe! Thankfully, however, the Bush Administration is taking a tougher line with Europe, which is long overdue.

Consultation with allies continues to be important to American officials. The word "ally" has many synonyms--friend, supporter, collaborator, partner--words that unfortunately do not describe our current relationship with most of Europe (Britain excluded).

On issues ranging from global warming, trade with Cuba, capital punishment, and now Iraq, Europe consistently portrays America as the evil-doer. Top that off with the fact that they want our soldiers abroad--including those protecting Europe--to be subject to the jurisdiction of the "International Criminal Court." From the comments of its ministers and bureaucrats, one can easily conclude that the European Union is consistently more trusting of Saddam and Fidel than the US.

As long as the US continues to do the heavy-lifting around the world, with only limited help from Europe, and as long as Europe consistently sides against US positions, its influence over our decisions will wane. More Americans are beginning to wonder why we have 120,000 troops in Europe, 70,000 of which are in Germany, when Europe bucks us on virtually every issue?

And given that Europe has a larger population than we do, why does it devote a paltry percentage of its overall budget to defending itself?

Answer: Because it can--as long as we're there to pick up the slack. So what does our significant military expenditure in Europe buy us? As it turns out, not much unless you value Europe's growing anti-US sentiment and sense of entitlement.

Domestic military expenditure in Europe has declined sharply since the end of the Cold War. The United States, meanwhile, continues to do the lion's share of the global safeguarding. This year, we'll spend $348 billion on defense, an 18 percent increase from 2001, with another 15 percent increase in 2003.

Meanwhile, Europe is acting like a surly, lazy adolescent who clamors to be treated like an adult. Let's hope it's a phase and adulthood is right around the corner.

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JWR contributor Laura Ingraham is the host of a radio show syndicated nationally by Westwood One Radio Network. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Laura Ingraham