Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I Need Help With an Assignment.
Okay team, I need a hand with an assignment. I was assigned an 800 word essay with this topic: Despite the near universal condemnation of terrorist attacks against the US, Great Britain, Spain, and other Western nations, there have been incidences of disagreement between the Western powers on the prosecution of the Global War on Terror. In what ways might the US employ its cultural awareness to more effectively partner with Europe in this ongoing struggle?
The quick answer is that we can't do much on the cultural side to get Europe to fully participate. Yes, my word-smithing isn't the best in this essay, but I'm firm on my thesis and conclusion. My professor disagrees with the argument that a majority of our NATO allies (minus England and Canada) are not fully committed to the Global War on Terror. He disagrees so much, that he marked my paper down because he thinks that's a false premise. I stand by it.
What do you think? Am I wrong?
Although the Global War on Terror has touched nearly every part of the globe, it is still a US-centric, US-focused effort. Western nations have all been touched in some way by Al-Qaeda’s operations, yet Western Europe seems to remain psychologically unattached to actual war. Their limited military support in Afghanistan is a token offer to the United States, offered more out of an obligation for past assistance rather than to seriously fight a common enemy. The US would need to inspire the European Union by changing the prevailing culture of Europe to effectively bring them into the GWOT as an equal partner.
The GWOT has an unmistakable undertone of a religious warfare. The US never declared it to be a religious war, but they are fighting an enemy that sees this struggle as a spiritual conflict. “In recent years, trends in the United States and Europe as well as the emergence of new international terrorist threats claiming Islamic fundamentalist roots have combined to put new focus on religion as a dividing rather than a uniting factor across the Atlantic.” (Sloan, 2005, 1)
Because the US allowed Al-Qaeda to label this war as a religious struggle, it is seen through the eyes of Europeans as being rooted in the “uber-religious” American fundamentalism. Such fundamentalism goes against the increasing secularism of Europe, where religion and nationalism have taken a back seat to what Huntington describes as “Universal Civilization”, an idealism created by “a thin layer of technocrats and academics and businessmen who gather annually at that watering hole of the global elite in Switzerland.” (Ajami, 2008, 3)
The US and Europe are certainly tied together through political, financial, ideological, and cultural ties, but because the new European cultural components of Religion, Ethnicity and Nationalism cannot be drastically altered, their participation in the GWOT needs to be inspired by other means.
The modernization of the world has been a Western-led effort over the last 150 years. It has culminated into today’s technologically advanced societies, high-tech industries, and it paved the way to the Globalization we are experiencing today. Still, there are many cultures and nations around the world that are resisting this modernization, including the opposing forces of the GWOT. Al-Qaeda’s Shiria-based Islamic faction, as well as some powerful Muslim nation-states, are resisting modernization and Globalization, and they are basing this resistance on their religious principles. To the religious (and sometimes elected) leaders of those nations, modernization and Globalization are evil because they originated in the Christian-centric Western nations, and anything Western must be resisted at all cost.
It would be logical for the US to further influence and inspire Western Europe to increase their role in the GWOT by convincing them that the ultimate goal of this War is to lift up the populations of those nations ‘ravaged’ by 3rd World consequences by opening up their access to education, commerce, and the benefits of the Global economy and Western goods and services. This argument might actually work with a few Eastern European nations, but it would almost certainly fail to change the views of the elites who would see the pushing of Globalization onto the oppressed equal to pushing Christianity onto Muslims. No matter what the benefits would be to those living in 19th Century-based societies, most of Europe would be more concerned with stepping on the toes of other cultures than by improving the health and well-being of those people.
One can certainly understand the sensitivity Europeans may have towards upsetting the balance of cultures. They learned what happens when you conquer, partition, and ultimately abuse culturally diverse regions of the world. Asia, the Americas, Africa, and nearly every other place on earth was changed in some way by the failed policies of Western colonization during the last 500 years. It might be entirely possible that the guilt of colonization is the root cause of European antipathy towards the US-led GWOT.
The only way Geography could influence the West’s participation in the GWOT would be if Western Europe were facing total catastrophe due to invasion or other large-scale threats. Western Europe has never rallied together more than they did during World War I, World War II, and ultimately the Cold War. When faced with the common Soviet threat, Western Europe (deeply influenced by the US) built up a strong economic and military resistance to contain the spread of Communism. There was still a lot of disagreement amongst the Western Governments (i.e. France vs. NATO), but those weaknesses never gained enough influence thanks to the backing of the US military and economy.
It seems that only threat of total warfare is capable of influencing the Europe into participating in any large-scale military action. Because of influence of US religion, nationalism, and Globalization on diverse cultures, Europe is hesitant to take a stronger role in the GWOT. Europe will not be influenced by cultural-based arguments made by the US to bring them into the struggle. Instead, it will take a war of survival to inspire them to fight as one against a common, powerful enemy. The enemy will need to be something more deadly than a state-less, tyrannical religious-based organization. With Iran rapidly developing its nuclear program, the use of such weapons may just be the catalyst for total participation. Sadly, like their delayed reaction to Nazi Germany’s spread across the continent, action by Western Europe after the enemy has fully committed its forces will make resistance much more difficult and deadly.
Ajami, Fouad, “The Clash,” New York Times, 6 January 2008
Sloan, Stanley, “How Does Religion Affect Relations between America and Europe?” Atlantic Community Initiative website, Winter 2005
posted by El Capitan at 11:48 PM
I'm curious, what exactly is it he disagrees with?9:58 AM
He disagrees with the premise that we're failing in Afghanistan, and to argue his point, he accused me of listening to the 'Bush Bashers' of the world. He then told me that because of my apparent lack of experience in world affairs, I needed to deploy overseas to get the full perspective of what's going on out there.
Fist, I'm a conservative, so I know the difference between liberal propaganda and fact.
Second, we are failing in Afghanistan. It's a fact.
Third.... I've deployed 3 f'n times and have friends currently out there. I have experience in the real world. That statement that I needed to deploy was seriously offensive.
I'm putting together my long response to him now, but it's frustrating that I have to stoop to this level. It was just supposed to be a basic essay.
Perhaps you should send him over to read Michael Yon?10:53 PM
Failure is much better when you are able to involve all your friends in your failure.2:30 PM
You need to deploy? Excuse me??!! He needs a smack across the face for that one.
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