Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Friend of My Friend...

Dr. Hanson's observes that what makes a friend to the US is based on the proximity of threatened security here.


Why, then, is Japan suddenly warm while Europe is so cool? Is the Bush administration clumsy in Berlin and adept in Tokyo?

No. Rather, the answer is the rise of China and the collapse of the Soviet Union. For the Japanese government, China and its nuclear protégé, North Korea, are not abstract threats. Indeed, they are within tactical missile range.

If Europeans dream Chinese break-neck capitalism means only lucrative business, the Japanese fear such dynamism will more likely lead to a new bully in their own backyard.

If Japan once had bouts of anti-Americanism when its neighbor China was asleep, Europe was relatively friendly to us when we kept 300 Soviet divisions from its borders.

The moral? Trashing the United States can be a sport for some when one nearby communist enemy disappears but not so for others when another such enemy ascends close by.

Of course, domestic politics, trade issues and clumsy American diplomacy also help fashion the U.S. image abroad. Still, a government's anti-American rhetoric is often predicated on its perceived self-interest.

Nations always act out of self-interest. That's a given. All the more reason to see why our relationship with the UK is considered "special".

Hanson predicts:

The world changes as we speak. With new economic powerhouses like China and India, universal concerns about terrorism and Muslim fundamentalism and recognition of how weak both the E.U. and the United Nations are in a real pinch, expect easy, fashionable anti-Americanism to recede.

Indeed, it already has. Just ask a warm Japan — and look soon for the same change of mood in a once cool but now increasingly vulnerable and worried Europe.

That I'd love to see: France and Germany, squirming, hat in hand, under the rise of a new Ottoman Empire...