Monday, February 13, 2006

France - Europe's Survivor?

For European nations fighting to preserve their national identities against Muslim encroachment, weaknesses can become strengths, and France is much likelier to win through than the UK, Germany or Italy.

Following the civilization-chronicler Arnold Toynbee, I'd argue that a nation needs four qualities to survive simultaneous external and internal challenges:

1. A population determined to preserve its way of life.

2. A military providing good defence against the enemy without.

3. Tough cops to control the enemy within.

4. A strong leader who does not appease.


How do the four big European nations stack up against these requirements?

Determination to preserve way of life

This is the defining characteristic of the French - it's what makes them such irritating neighbors and allies. Here's Theodore Dalrymple - he's retired to France - on how French state workers look after themselves (WSJ, subscription):

The case of the state monopoly, EDF (Electricité de France) is instructive, and explains why any reform is so politically difficult. Employees of this vast organization work 32 hours per week; their meals are subsidized to the tune of 50%, their electricity and gas bills by 90%; they can retire at 55; they have the right to holidays at a fifth of their market value, and on average work the equivalent of eight months per year; and when their mother-in-law dies, they can take three days' paid leave to celebrate. These are not all their privileges, only some; so it is hardly surprising that when the government proposed the privatization of EDF, they went on strike. (The government caved in.)

This determination to keep things unchanged would normally be a weakness, since it ultimately makes the nation uncompetitive. But in a fight for national survival, it's essential.

The Brits and Germans share this strength - I'm less confident of the Italians.

Effective military

In the worst case scenario, the Mullahs will use nukes to force European nations to bend to their Muslim minorities. The US won't provide nuclear protection for Europe - why should it risk the lives of its people for false friends?

France has an adequate nuclear deterrent, and is the only nation in the world that's threatened to use it if Iran plays up. The UK also has an adequate nuclear deterrent force.

Germany and Italy don't, and are very vulnerable unless the Mullahs can be stopped. Although either nation could deploy nukes in 5 years, they'd need to start now and their current governments are too weak for that.

Effective Cops

France has some very nasty cops:
France, which sees itself as a bastion of human rights, has received embarrassingly low marks on the subject in a Council of Europe report to be released this week.

Acutely overpopulated prisons, a "glaringly" under-funded justice system, summary expulsions of asylum seekers and police brutality are among the shortcomings listed in the report by Human Rights Commissioner...
These weaknesses become strengths if the country faces an internal enemy. The Germans and Italians have similarly aggressive policing - it's quite normal to be stopped at a roadblock and made to show your Identity Card. German cops do make allowances for Brits, who aren't used to this.

Due to its PC management, Brit policing is hopeless - that's no reflection on the working coppers, but it takes years to change broken management teams. So the UK is at a severe disadvantage.

Leadership

France has Nicolas Sarkozy, who's clamping down on domestic Muslim violence. He's vulnerable to backstabbing, but if he goes, his opponents face Le Pen, who ran second to Chirac in the last presidential election.

Germany, Italy and the UK all have appeasing elites in power and opposition, and it'll be hard for strong leaders to emerge.

So, it pains me to say that France is much more likely to survive Jihad than the Brits, Germans and Italians.

To end this dark post on a lighter note: if I have offended any French, Brit, Italian, German or Islamic persons, I hereby make the Trotsky Apology (he's said to have sent this as a telegram to Stalin):

"You were right
I was wrong
I should apologize".

You have to read this out loud in a camp-Jewish Leo Bloom accent:

You were right?
I was wrong?
I should apologize?