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The War Against America

It isn't just the terrorists who want to see America laid low. Old Europe is, in its own way, attacking the United States, too. These forces of hostility are not to be taken lightly.

11:00 PM, Mar 18, 2003 • By ANDREW THOMSON
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THE WAR AGAINST AMERICA has been on foot for some years. Its first manifestation came during the 1990s in the form of militant Islam's sporadic attacks on Americans outside the United States. This was followed by the Pearl Harbor of the new century in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. All the while the world stood by and watched. It became the normal thing that America was attacked.

Lately the forces arrayed against America have grown to include mainstream Old European diplomacy, whose sabotage of the United States has spread from constant WTO harassment to full-blown hijacking of NATO and the hostile use of the U.N. Security Council. Year after year, Americans lose their lives by terrorism. American families suffer terrible grief. Old Europe and its surrogates all over the world struggle frantically to fetter Americans' efforts to protect themselves.

This is the War Against America.

Behind the bitter diplomacy lies an unspeakable truth: A great many people who live in wealthy countries are hostile to the United States and secretly believe that America deserves to suffer these attacks. True, they believe this in the abstract. They don't believe Americans as individuals deserve to be murdered. But what they believe--in ferocious, mindless hostility towards "America"--results in the regular slaughter of ordinary people just like themselves and their families, who happen to be citizens of the United States.

As a consequence, the murder of Americans has become not merely an object of complacency in wealthy Europe, but the inevitable outcome of its professed foreign policy. Finally, Americans are waking up to this appalling new reality.

Why has this lunacy come about?

Plainly, America is a large presence. Often this tends to suffocate people, especially in wealthy countries. (Anti-American rage rarely erupts in poor or ex-Communist countries, unless motivated by militant religion or politics.) One can ask with some legitimacy: Can American corporations actually get larger, can its military forces grow even more powerful, can its entertainment culture grow even more dominant? Is there room for anyone else in the world?

Even those who admire America beyond what words can express ask themselves these questions. In the War Against America the casus belli seems less Iraq and its hidden weapons of mass destruction than America's size and success. True, French and Russian politicians are desperate to keep a lid on the Baghdad archives. But a large chunk of public opinion outside the United States has other motivations: It is now implacably hostile; it blindly condones the murder of Americans, whether by terrorist stunts today or WMD tomorrow. For some awful reason, it refuses to see America for what it really is--a large community of normal people--families, children, workplace colleagues--just like themselves. Instead it sees corporations, entertainment, and processed food. For some odd reason these things have given rise to an extraordinary malice.

Israel attracts Old European hatred not because it is Jewish but because it is protected by America. Many see it as an American surrogate. Yet it seeks only to protect its own citizens from murder. Its effectiveness in doing so is what infuriates Old Europe. After all, Israeli dead make nice surrogates, too. Creating a Palestinian state based on gangsterdom is only another way of expressing the anti-American blood-lust.

The world is not unipolar. It is split. The split is real, and it is dangerous. It will not go away. Obsolescent institutions built on obsolescent notions of post-1970s international law--such as the United Nations, which is now a theme park for anti-American hatred--cannot cope with the modern reality of non-state actors and their ability to deliver destruction. Terrorist actors attack people with explosive devices; NGO actors attack democratic government with propaganda. Rather than preventing such attacks, multilateral institutions have begun fostering them.

The forces of hostility are not to be treated lightly. America's presence in the world is not going to get smaller; the feeling of suffocation will only diminish as poor countries grow wealthier. And the proliferation of WMD may already be beyond control because those who could help stop it--France, China, Russia, and Germany--wallow secretly in the lunacy that such proliferation acts as a check on America.

If a crude nuclear device is detonated in Baltimore or San Francisco, it won't be long before the act is repeated in Tianjin, Hamburg, Marseilles, or St. Petersburg.

But even then, they'll find a way to blame America. The War Against America is a war on all of us. Iraq is only a first step towards fighting back.

Hon. Andrew Thomson was a minister in the Australian government under Prime Minister John Howard and now practices law in Washington D.C.