Casualties in Iraq have decreased a bit, European leaders speak more softly and Russia is a bit more assertive. Now some on the right feel uplifted and apparently assume that the kids in Europe are running to their daddy America.
At the weekend, I wrote about Charles Krauthammer's claim that "the rise of external threats to our allies has concentrated their minds on the need for the American connection." Victor Davis Hanson made similar claims in the National Review Online:
In the build-up to the invasion, anti-Americanism in Europe reached a near frenzy. It was whipped up by French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and evoked warnings of an eternal split in the Atlantic Alliance. If Iraq had proved a catalyst for this expression of near hatred - fueled by long-standing angers and envies - it soon, however, proved to be a catharsis as well.
Both leaders overplayed their hands when the U.S. had already begun downsizing its NATO deployments in Germany. Elsewhere, Europeans started to have second thoughts about alienating America at a time of rising Russian belligerency, and suffered from increased worry over radical Islamic terrorists, at home and abroad. The result is that their successors, Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, are staunchly pro-American in ways their previous governments were not, even well before the Iraq War."
I don't think Chirac and Schroeder were the ones who "overplayed their hands," if you know what I mean... Besides, I wonder why Victor Davis Hanson considers Sarkozy and Merkel "staunchly pro-American." I'd thought that military historians would be a bit more skeptical about the rhetoric of politicians. What staunchly pro-American policy have Merkel and Sarkozy implemented?
Or perhaps what we are seeing here is a trend of lowered expectations, which one commenter recently put this way: "Six years ago [America's] message to the world was 'you're with us or you're against us.' Now it's 'well, so long as you're not against us...'"
Yet another way to look at it is: Europeans have not contributed very much to Iraq and "the good war" in Afghanistan. Many Americans don't see Europe as a crucial ally who has the power to help in America's hours of need. Thus nice statements and withholding public criticism is the only thing to expect from Europeans. If we Europeans want to be taken more seriously, we need to offer more.