European racism and revanchism is alive and well and toxic as ever. The latest manifestation of this toxicity comes courtesy of the Atlantic Magazine publishing a piece by Phillips Payson O’Brien with the catchy title, The U.S. and Europe Are Splitting Over Ukraine. Ah, divorce is on the horizon? I pray that O’Brien is right on this point.
O’Brien, an ethnic Irish man born in Boston but working in Scotland as a professor at the University of St. Andrews, accomplishes the amazing feat with his article by coming up with the right conclusion while getting the underlying predicates staggeringly wrong.
He starts by praising NATO as the most successful military alliance EVER, without acknowledging that the raison d’être for NATO was the existence of the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union broke up like a blob of mercury hit with a hammer, NATO had a mid-life crisis — who the hell do we fight now? Before long NATO hit on Serbia as an opportune target and then started recruiting new members to join this really swell military club. Then came 9-11 and NATO members were roped into helping fight Iraqis and Afghanis. The fact that Europe’s security did not hinge on what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan is ignored. Flexing muscles and bombing brown people became a thing for NATO.
So guess who O’Brien blames for the potential collapse of NATO? If you guessed Donald Trump take a victory lap. O’Brien writes;
When the dominant faction within one of the two major American political parties can’t see the point in helping a democracy-minded country fight off Russian invaders, that suggests that the center of the political spectrum has shifted in ways that will render the U.S. a less reliable ally to Europe.
That is rich. Here is a guy, whose Irish ancestors fled to America for better opportunities in life, complaining about the U.S. not being a reliable ally because of the chance that the majority of the American population does not give two shits about going to Europe to fight an unnecessary war. That complaint might make some sense if Europe was leading the way in trying to gin up a war with Russia and was committed to spending tens of billions of U.S. DOLLARS to fund graft and corruption in Ukraine, but that ain’t happening. Europe is a NATO free-loader and militarily irrelevant. Truth hurts, but the U.K. can barely field a 75,000 man army. Germany and France are not much better. The lack of military oomph from the traditional leaders of Europe is why NATO has been trying to enlist every Javier, Sven and Erdogan in an expanding NATO — they need the bodies.
Rather than engage in a serious debate, O’Brien opts for name-calling — he labels Tucker Carlson a demagogue for correctly asserting that some of the hatred directed at Russia is based on animus towards Eastern Orthodox Christianity. O’Brien insists:
Such claims are ridiculous, not least because Russia is one of the least religious societies on Earth.
So let’s fact check that whopper. According to the PEW Research Service:
Over the past two decades, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been an upsurge in affiliation with Orthodox Christianity in Russia.1 Between 1991 and 2008, the share of Russian adults identifying as Orthodox Christian rose from 31% to 72%, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of three waves of data (1991, 1998 and 2008) from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) – a collaboration involving social scientists in about 50 countries.
A more recent poll by Interfax confirms PEW’s findings:
Most Russians (68%) consider themselves Orthodox Christians, the percentage of such Russians in the 45-59 age group reaches 76%, according to a poll conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM), which was obtained by Interfax on Wednesday.
The poll shows that 74% of Russia’s women and 60% of Russia’s men consider themselves Orthodox Christians.
Maybe O’Brien confused Scotland — his current abode — with Russia:
Just one in three Scots now identify as being a Christian – a million fewer than 11 years ago.
A survey carried out by YouGov for the Humanist Society Scotland says that those who identify as Christian don’t share in key Christian beliefs with around a third of Christians (36%) saying they “believe the teachings of Christianity’ .
You will find similar declining numbers of Christians in France and Germany. Here’s a recent update on Germany:
Despite the history and the funding, less than 10% of Catholics attend church and only 3% of Protestants. In 2019 over half a million Protestants and Catholics officially disassociated themselves from their church.
It gets worse. Around half of Protestants and Catholics no longer believe in the resurrection. Only 40% of Catholics and 32% of Protestants believe in life after death. Atheists make up 24% of Protestants and 11% of Catholics.
Can we all agree that on this point Mr. O’Brien failed to do even a cursory Google search to try to validate his specious claim?
To his credit, Mr. O’Brien does earn a point for “No Shit Analysis” by writing:
The reality is that, for many years, Europe has largely slipstreamed behind the U.S. on security matters. This has provided real benefits to the U.S., by solidifying American leadership in the world’s most important strategic grouping while allowing European states to spend far less on defense than they would otherwise have to. The differential also means that Europe, on its own, lacks the breadth and depth of U.S. military capabilities.
Thank you Captain Obvious. That bit of clarity notwithstanding, O’Brien still labors under the delusion that Europe is a viable industrial power and could start cranking out tanks, combat air and artillery shells if America falters:
If the United States simply abandons Ukraine a year and a half from now, there is no way whatsoever that Europe could make up for the loss of aid. But European governments would have to come up with ways to ameliorate that withdrawal. This would require tact and skill—and the preparations would have to start soon. European military officials need to quietly ask their Ukrainian counterparts what the latter would need that the former could supply if American assistance wanes, and then start figuring out how to ramp up production.
Nope. Not going to happen. The factories and steel plants that Britain had during World War II have gone the way of the Dodo Bird — they are kaput. And Germany, the once mighty industrial giant in Europe, is shuttering plants and sending jobs overseas.
O’Brien closes his piece with more magical thinking:
The election of a pro-NATO and pro-Ukraine U.S. president in 2024 should be enough to see Ukraine through to a military victory and peace deal (which would involve Ukraine’s admission into NATO), leading to security on the continent. But that possibility doesn’t absolve European leaders of the obligation to plan for an alternate reality in which an American administration scuttles NATO and seeks a rapprochement with Putin, despite Russia’s genocidal crimes against a European state.
Pigs will grow wings and fly at hypersonic speeds before O’Brien’s sunny vision of the future comes to past — Ukraine’s capacity to win a military victory is bleeding out before Russian bulwarks in the south of Ukraine and its ability to sustain military operations, even with Western support, is fading.
Professor O’Brien’s article is, in my view, just one more piece of evidence that so-called thinkers in the West are starting to panic as they realize the NATO plan to use Ukraine to defeat Russia is a dud. O’Brien and his ilk remain incapable of seeing the only viable exit — acknowledge that Russia will never accept Ukraine as a member of NATO and, if it has to, will work to collapse NATO from within in order to secure its borders.