On May 8, 1945, VE Day, the allied armies conquered Europe and vanquished the Nazi menace. Over the following few years, the U.S., along with the U.K., France and the USSR, administered every aspect of German life, economy and society. In 1948, the U.S. government enacted the “Marshall Plan”, or “European Recovery Program”, and actively sought to resurrect the war-torn continent and return hope to the traumatized population that had suffered much through the two World Wars.
When relations with the USSR soured and the Cold War became the new reality, the U.S. inaugurated, along with its Western allies, a military alliance in order to serve the shared security interests of the Western bloc in Europe—NATO. Throughout the Cold War, the U.S. preserved its military presence in Western Europe (excluding France from 1966), as a measure of protection against Soviet interests (the Warsaw Pact) and as a way of maintaining control and order over the remaining fascistic elements embedded in the European establishment. During this early post-war era, Western Europe rebuilt itself and experienced the “Glorious Thirty” years of exponential growth and reunification through the ECSC, the EEC and, eventually, the EU. However, starting in the mid-1970’s, the economic situation began to change and public support for U.S. foreign policy began to erode.
When Nixon debased the U.S. dollar in 1971, effectively defaulting on U.S. foreign debt, European investors, especially foreign governments, began to regard U.S. intentions in Europe as suspect. The hyper-inflation that soon followed, triggered by the Oil-Embargo of 1973, changed the face of the global economy and favored the U.S.-backed doctrine of privatization and public austerity, a trend that contravened and undermined the collectivist measures that were adopted by the European states shortly following the War, such as the institution of the NHS and the nationalization of railroads. This liberal, anti-collectivist, economic policy, coupled with corresponding social propaganda (including Postmodernist thought) that delegitimized many aspects of nationalist sentiments and traditional values (while promoting lax, multi-cultural immigration policies), brought about far-reaching cultural, economic and social changes for Europe and the entire world.
While I could focus my criticism of U.S. foreign policy on the economic and social effects of U.S. foreign influence over the global economy and cultural sphere, I would only be addressing the symptoms of a larger, more easily-defined problem. Additionally, while I tend to oppose the liberal super-structure that the U.S. has constructed over the past fifty years on moral grounds, I can’t ignore the changing cultural and social landscapes that such policies have shaped, and I can’t deny the collaborative elements from within the European establishment that acceded to the U.S. demands for greater “freedoms” and liberal society. For better or worse, European society have, indeed transformed, over the years, and I would be amiss to discount such changes as evil or insignificant. I maintain that I would not have promoted such changes myself, but, on the other hand, I don’t call for revolution. I believe that one should work within the confines of the reality one inhabits, and to judge today’s Europe based on outdated cultural and nationalist assumptions would get us nowhere. However, I don’t adopt a laissez-faire attitude to the current situation, as I’m aware of the unstable situation of the many immigrant and refugee communities in Europe, and I’m unwilling to accept today’s reality as morally justified. For example, anyone who truly identifies with the millions of Syrian refugees, of whom over a million have settled in Europe, knows that the vast majority wish to return to a stable, prosperous and safe homeland. Any politician who would deny such a natural sentiment and insist on their indefinite exile would strike me as a corrupt and unsympathetic individual. Any politician who would similarly insist on deporting such refugees before Syria fully recovers would equally seem to me as callous and cruel.
So, in order to avoid unnecessarily ambiguous and potentially offensive language, I much prefer to analyze the situation from the barest minimum of uncontestable logical assumptions. I assume that every sovereign society wishes to maintain full control over its armed forces, at least within the limits uncontestable borders. I also assume that while collaboration with a foreign power may be deemed necessary for a limited period, long, indefinite periods of a maintained presence of a foreign military inside one’s own, sovereign borders, works against the notion of individual states’ freedoms and military independence. I do not object on moral grounds to the occupation of a foreign entity during wartime, as I regard war in itself as an immoral act, but I can’t defend an indefinite occupation of a foreign power as anything but colonial chauvinism, even if perpetrated in the name of religion or moral doctrine. In my eyes, if a state deems it necessary to invade and occupy a foreign power, it needs to justify its actions and work towards settling its issues with the occupied entity in a timely manner.
The U.S. was wholly justified in conquering and occupying Europe on account of the War and the subsequent Soviet aggression. However, I cannot find any moral justification for the U.S.’s continued presence in Western Europe following the dismantlement of the Warsaw Pact in the early 1990s. While Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine would seemingly offer a plausible explanation for the U.S. maintaining a robust military presence in Europe, such an argument would mislead you into ignoring the fact that the same military presence played a major factor in provoking Putin and Russia into a defensive stance regarding NATO expansion. In a sense, Putin played into the U.S. hands and provided the necessary propaganda that legitimizes the continued U.S. presence in Europe, including in Germany, Italy and the U.K. Personally, I believe that the U.S. actively provoked Russia in order to legitimize its indefinite occupation of western Europe, but, of course, such an opinion would be deemed blasphemous and conspirative by the Western establishment. According to the West, the U.S. is welcome to stay in Europe idefinitely. According to the West, the Europeans love their American brothers and have invited them to stay with them. According to many Europeans, however, the U.S. presence, and its influence over the European economy and society has become overburdening and counterproductive. They want the U.S. to leave.
Here in Israel, we are called out for our indefinite “occupation” of the West Bank. As a formality, the IDF does, in fact, administer the Occupied Territories as a foreign entity while allowing for ‘illicit’ activities, such as settlement-building, that draw the ire of many “civilized” nations. However, as we know, the situation in the West Bank is much more complicated than it may appear to uninformed observers. Many Palestinians actually prefer the IDF to the corrupt and totalitarian rule of the PLO and Hamas, and many still reject the Oslo Accords as an accession to Israeli demands for uncontested sovereignty in ’48 lands. In reality, while formally an “occupation,” the IDF strives to ensure individual rights and social security for the vast majority of those living under its sphere of influence. I cannot deny the human rights issues associated with the occupation, but I also see the manipulative nature of those on the Palestinian side that support terrorist activities against unarmed Israeli civilians and realize that the threat that incitement poses is real. Additionally, foreign interests continually muck around and interfere on both sides, making true, unmediated dialogue nearly impossible.
Compared to the U.S.’s unquestioned and corrupt occupation of Europe, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is but a drop in the bucket. So why are we singled out? Well, I believe that the Europeans would like to criticize the U.S., but that they fear U.S. retaliation, through economic, social and diplomatic measures (based, of course, on specious moralistic arguments). Many have tried to voice opposition to the U.S. hegemony but the majority of those who speak of the U.S. occupation as a temporary affair are seen as quacks and unrealistic. While, according to my estimations, the vast majority of Europeans want the U.S. to leave, they are held back by internal and external pressures that disinhibit their ability to collectivize and strike against their foreign aggressor. Instead of directly fighting the U.S. interests, they look to Israel as a proxy of the U.S. and focus their criticism, instead on us.
Israel’s hands are tied for the moment. We are entirely dependent on U.S. foreign interests for our security. In fact, to speak of Israeli “independence” is quite farcical. We are but a colony, a pet project, in the U.S.’s enormous inventory of foreign assets, and we serve the U.S. well in putting down opposition to its hegemony in Europe. By continuously invoking the Holocaust, we provide the U.S.’s collaborators in Europe the perfect anti-nationalist propaganda to justify the continued reliance of the European states on U.S. military and economic support. If we would stop interfering in European affairs on behalf of the U.S, we would most certainly gain credence and standing regarding our actions in the West Bank. If we continue to play victim while “victimizing” the Palestinians, the Europeans will identify us with their real enemy–the U.S.
We must wean ourselves from playing the victim card. Not everyone critical of the way we treat the Palestinians is an anti-Semite and not everyone who believes in European nationalism is a fascist. We must also return to the basics of Jewish identity and return to Orthodox religious practice. The situation is not yet dire, but who knows? In a few years the U.S. will have to contend with growing competition from China and resistance in Latin America, if Israel doesn’t side with the Europeans, we’ll be left alone and weakened and subject to the powerful whims of pent-up anti-Western sentiment