Europe’s Future — Merkel or Le Pen?

Europe's Future -- Merkel or Le Pen?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

The terrorist who hijacked a truck in Berlin and ran over and killed 12 people, maiming and wounding 48 more, in that massacre in the Christmas market, has done more damage than he could imagine.

If the perpetrator is the jihadist from Tunisia who had no right to be in Germany, and had been under surveillance, the bell could begin to toll not only for Angela Merkel but for the European Union.

That German lassitude, and the naivete behind it, allowed this outrage validates the grim verdict of geostrategist James Burnham in “Suicide of the West“: “Liberalism is the ideology of Western suicide.”

Both the transnational elite and populist right sense the stakes involved here. As news of the barbarous atrocity spread across Europe, the reactions were instantaneous and predictable.

Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front, leading candidate for the presidency in 2017, declaimed: “How many more people must die at the hands of Islamic extremists before our governments close our porous borders and stop taking in thousands of illegal immigrants?”

Geert Wilders, the Party for Freedom front-runner for prime minister of Holland, echoed Le Pen: “They hate and kill us. And nobody protects us. Our leaders betray us. We need a political revolution.

“Islamic immigration/Is an invasion,” he went on, “An existential problem/That will replace our people/Erase our culture.”

“These are Merkel’s dead,” tweeted Marcus Pretzell of the far-right Alternative for Germany about the victims in the Christmas mart.

Nicholas Farage, who led the campaign for British secession from the EU, called the Christmas massacre “the Merkel legacy.”

Europe’s populist right is laying this act of Islamist savagery at the feet of Merkel for her having opened Germany in 2015 to a million migrants and refugees from Syria and the Middle East wars.

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Before Berlin, she was already on the defensive after mobs of migrants went about molesting and raping German girls in Cologne last New Year’s Eve.

Even admirers who share her belief in a Europe of open borders, that welcomes immigrants and refugees from Third World wars and despotisms, sense the gravity of Merkel’s crisis.

“Germans should not let the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin undermine liberal values,” ran the headline on The Washington Post editorial Dec. 22. Alarmed, the Post went on:

“What Germany cannot and must not do is … succumb to the siren song of the anti-foreigner right-wing, which has been gaining strength across Europe and moved immediately to exploit the attack ahead of the September 2017 national elections.”

The New York Times delivered its customary castigation of the European populist right but, in a note of near-desperation, if not of despair, implored Europe’s liberals not to lose faith.

“With each new attack, whether on a Christmas market or a mosque, the challenge to Europe to defend tolerance, inclusion, equality and reason grows more daunting. If Europe is to survive as a beacon of democratic hope in a world rent by violent divisions, it must not cede those values.”

But less and less does Europe appear to be listening.

Indeed, as Europe has been picking up its dead and wounded for over a decade, from terrorist attacks in Madrid, London, Paris, Berlin and Brussels, the peoples of Europe seem less interested in hearing recitals of liberal values than in learning what their governments are going to do to keep the Islamist killers out and make them safe.

Salus populi suprema lex.

Liberals may admonish us that all races, creeds, cultures are equal, that anyone from any continent, country or civilization can come to the West and assimilate. That discrimination against one group of immigrants in favor of another — preferring, say, Lebanese Christians to Syrian Muslims — is illiberal and undemocratic.

But people don’t believe that. Europe and America have moved beyond the verities of 20th-century liberalism.

The cruel experiences of the recent past, and common sense, dictate that open borders are Eurail passes for Islamist terrorists, who are anxious to come and kill us in the West. We have to deal with the world as it is, not as we would wish it to be.

In our time, there has taken place, is taking place, an Islamic awakening. Of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, hundreds of millions accept strict sharia law about how to deal with apostasy and infidels.

Scores of millions in the Middle East wish to drive the West out of their world. Thousands are willing to depart and come to Europe to terrorize our societies. They see themselves at war with us, as their ancestors were at war with the Christian world for 1,000 years.

Only liberal ideology calls for America and Europe to bring into their home countries endless numbers of migrants, without being overly concerned about who they are, whence they come or what they believe.

Right-wing and anti-immigrant parties are succeeding in Europe for a simple reason. Mainstream parties are failing in the first duty of government — to protect the safety and security of the people.

Populist-Nationalist Tide Rolls On

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Now that the British have voted to secede from the European Union and America has chosen a president who has never before held public office, the French appear to be following suit.

In Sunday’s runoff to choose a candidate to face Marine Le Pen of the National Front in next spring’s presidential election, the center-right Republicans chose Francois Fillon in a landslide.

While Fillon sees Margaret Thatcher as a role model in fiscal policy, he is a socially conservative Catholic who supports family values, wants to confront Islamist extremism, control immigration, restore France’s historic identity and end sanctions on Russia.

“Russia poses no threat to the West,” says Fillon. But if not, the question arises, why NATO? Why are U.S. troops in Europe?

As Le Pen is favored to win the first round of the presidential election and Fillon the second in May, closer Paris-Putin ties seem certain. Europeans themselves are pulling Russia back into Europe, and separating from the Americans.

Next Sunday, Italy holds a referendum on constitutional reforms backed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. If the referendum, trailing in the polls, fails, says Renzi, he will resign.

Opposing Renzi is the secessionist Northern League, the Five Star Movement of former comedian Beppe Grillo, and the Forza Italia of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a pal of Putin’s.

“Up to eight of Italy’s troubled banks risk failure,” if Renzi’s government falls, says the Financial Times. One week from today, the front pages of the Western press could be splashing the newest crisis of the EU.

In Holland, the Party for Freedom of Geert Wilders, on trial for hate speech for urging fewer Moroccan immigrants, is running first or close to it in polls for the national election next March.

Meanwhile, the door to the EU appears to be closing for Muslim Turkey, as the European Parliament voted to end accession talks with Ankara and its autocratic president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In welcoming Muslim immigrants, Germany’s Angela Merkel no longer speaks for Europe, even as she is about to lose her greatest ally, Barack Obama.

Not only Europe but the whole world President-elect Trump is about to inherit seems in turmoil, with old regimes and parties losing their hold, and nationalist, populist and rightist forces rising.

Early this year, Brazil’s Senate voted to remove leftist President Dilma Rousseff. In September, her predecessor, popular ex-President Lula da Silva, was indicted in a corruption investigation. President Michel Temer, who, as vice president, succeeded Rousseff, is now under investigation for corruption. There is talk of impeaching him.

Venezuela, endowed with more oil than almost any country on earth, is now, thanks to the Castroism of Hugo Chavez and successor Nicolas Maduro, close to collapse and anarchy.

NATO’s Turkey and our Arab ally, Egypt, both ruled by repressive regimes, are less responsive to U.S. leadership.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, her approval rating in single digits, is facing impeachment and prosecution for corruption.

Meanwhile, North Korea, under Kim Jong Un, continues to test nuclear warheads and missiles that can hit all of South Korea and Japan and reach all U.S. bases in East Asia and the Western Pacific.

The U.S. is obligated by treaty to defend South Korea, where we still have 28,500 troops, and Japan, as well as the Philippines, where new populist President Rodrigo Duterte, cursing the West, is pivoting toward Beijing. Malaysia and Australia are also moving closer to China, as they become ever more dependent on the China trade.

Responding to our moving NATO troops into Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Putin has begun a buildup of nuclear-capable offensive and defensive missiles in Kaliningrad, its enclave between Poland and Lithuania.

Should we get into a confrontation with the Russians in the Eastern Baltic, how many of our NATO allies, some now openly pro-Putin, would stand beside us?

The point: Not only is the Cold War over, the post-Cold War is over. We are living in a changed and changing world. Regimes are falling. Old parties are dying, new parties rising. Old allegiances are fraying, and old allies drifting away.

The forces of nationalism and populism have been unleashed all over the West and all over the world. There is no going back.

Yet U.S. policy seems set in concrete by war guarantees and treaty commitments dating back to the time of Truman and Stalin and Ike and John Foster Dulles.

America emerged from the Cold War, a quarter century ago, as the sole superpower. Yet, it seems clear that we are not today so dominant a nation as we were in 1989 and 1991.

We have great rivals and adversaries. We are deeper in debt. We are more divided. We’ve fought wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen that availed us nothing. What we had, we kicked away.

America is at a plastic moment in history.

And America needs nothing so much as reflective thought about a quarter century of failures — and fresh thinking about her future.