August 04, 2004

Robin Leach for SecState

This piece, at Foreign, illustrates the real "Two Americas" - serious and silly.

This person - Parag Khanna - is on the "silly" side, in a piece entitled "The stylish European Union struts past the bumbling United States on the catwalk of global diplomacy".

According to Michael Flocker's 2003 bestseller, The Metrosexual Guide to Style: A Handbook for the Modern Man, the trendsetting male icons of the 21st century must combine the coercive strengths of Mars and the seductive wiles of Venus. Put simply, metrosexual men are muscular but suave, confident yet image-conscious, assertive yet clearly in touch with their feminine sides. Just consider British soccer star David Beckham. He is married to former Spice Girl Victoria “Posh” Adams, but his combination of athleticism and cross-dressing make him a sex symbol to both women and men worldwide, not to mention the inspiration for the 2002 hit movie Bend It Like Beckham. Substance, Beckham shows, is nothing without style.

Geopolitics is much the same. American neoconservatives such as Robert Kagan look down upon feminine, Venus-like Europeans, gibing their narcissistic obsession with building a postmodern, bureaucratic paradise. The United States, by contrast, supposedly carries the mantle of masculine Mars, boldly imposing freedom in the world's nastiest neighborhoods. But by cleverly deploying both its hard power and its sensitive side, the European Union (EU) has become more effective—and more attractive—than the United States on the catwalk of diplomatic clout. Meet the real New Europe: the world's first metrosexual superpower.

But when someone needs their car pushed out of a snowdrift, the European Metrosexual will defer because it'll expose his history of accepting bribes from tow truck drivers muss his 'do.
Metrosexuals always know how to dress for the occasion (or mission). Spreading peace across Eurasia serves U.S. interests, but it's best done by donning Armani pinstripes rather than U.S. Army fatigues.
Sure. James Bond wore...well, I'm not a metrosexual, so I'll assume it was something Armani-ish.

But if those pinstripes don't conceal a rock-solid sense of integrity and devotion to liberty, then they're just a suit.

After the fall of Soviet communism, conservative U.S. thinkers feared a united Germany vying with Russia for hegemony in Central Europe. Yet, by brandishing only a slick portfolio of economic incentives, the EU has incorporated many of the former Soviet republics and satellites in the Baltics and Eastern Europe.
Mr. (?) Khanna forgets, of course, that the Belgian in the Armanis carrying the "slick portfolio" wouldn't have been allowed east of Luebeck if it weren't for the gauche guys in the woodland BDUs that had held the even gauche-er Russians at bay for forty years.
Metrosexuals may spend a long time standing in front of the mirror, but they never shop alone. Stripping off stale national sovereignty (that's so last century), Europeans now parade their “pooled power,” the new look for this geopolitical season. As a political, economic, and military union with some 450 million citizens, a $9 trillion economy, and armies surpassing 1.6 million soldiers, Europe is now a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
I've got it; Khanna is a pseudonym for "Howard Dean"!

And let's complete the analogy, Mr (?) Khanna; Europe is a foppish late-fiftysomething metrosexual who spent his teens through his forties raising expensive hell (until his redneck cousin slapped some sense into him, and then lent him enough money to get on his feet), who now has a glass jaw (no more than 20-30,000 of those "1.6 million troops" can leave their own countries without massive US or British assistance), a bad credit card habit (its' "$9 trillion dollar economy" is saddled with cash-thirsty socialist governments), who's constantly calling on his redneck cousin whenever he gets into a scrape, and a nasty pain in its intestines (a huge, unassimilable Moslem minority) that might erupt into full-blown cancer.

Indeed, Europe actually contributes more to U.S. foreign policy goals than the U.S. government—and does so far more fashionably. Robert Cooper, one of Britain's former defense gurus now shaping Europe's common foreign policy, argues that Europe's “magnetic allure” compels countries to rewrite their laws and constitutions to meet European standards. The United States conceives of power primarily in military terms, thus confusing presence with influence.
And Europe - and Khanna - confuse "influence" with effectiveness. The US, especially conservative Americans, are still enthusiastically exceptionalistic, especially where our power is concerned. I'd suspect a thin majority of Americans would be happy to let the world run itself, to let Europe's impotent "influence"-mongering occupy it (as long as we don't have to bail it out anymore). Beyond that, I think a lot of Americans who pay lip service to "multilateralism" would blanche if they knew what it really meant...
Brand Europe is taking over. From environmental sustainability and international law to economic development and social welfare, European views are more congenial to international tastes and more easily exported than their U.S. variants.
As long as the "importers" are top-down bureaucracies, rather than free-market economies operating on their own volition, I suspect he's right.

Here's where Khanna gets downright hilarious:

But don't be deceived by the metrosexual superpower's pleatless pants—Europe hasn't lost touch with its hard assets. Even without a centralized military command structure, the EU has recently led military operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Macedonia,
both of which were disastrousoperations......and it will increase troop deployments to support German and British forces in stabilizing Afghanistan. European countries already provide 10 times more peacekeepers to U.N. operations than the United States. Because the US, quite sensibly, doesn't put its troops under other nations' command - a good idea, given that no purely-UN military operation has been anything but a fiasco.
To some observers, the EU may always be little more than a cheap superpower knockoff with little substance to show but a common multilingual passport. But after 60 years of dressing up, Europe has revealed its true 21st-century orientation. Just as metrosexuals are redefining masculinity, Europe is redefining old notions of power and influence. Expect Bend It Like Brussels to play soon in capital cities worldwide.
Right. Because the institutional (government) market for dumb ideas is always a boom market.

Posted by Mitch at August 4, 2004 06:25 AM | TrackBack

What a load of shit that piece was. We protected their ass for 40 plus years and suddenly our policies are bunk? I would absolutely love to have seen those nicely dressed French and Belgium diplomats negotiating with the Russians in 1960 if all our troops were sitting stateside. Please don't hurt us Mr. Communist sir!!! Right. I'd like this nut to make a bet. Name one country, one, whom gets invaded by a hostile country and calls up the EU first over the USA.

Posted by: Dave V at August 4, 2004 12:51 PM

Great post Mitch:

I envision the pan-european mechanized division heading to battle in their volkswagen SUV's:

"What?? you want us to go leave the highway go cross country? We just had these vehicles detailed!"

Posted by: rick at August 4, 2004 02:10 PM

Yes, and we all know how useful some "metrosexual" fop is in a bar fight...

Posted by: Jay Reding at August 4, 2004 03:39 PM