If there were a prize for worst headline of the week, even the month, it would surely go to a February 23rd piece in the New York Times headlined online: “Gates Calls European Mood a Danger to Peace.” The bellicose “mood,” so undermining of global peace that our secretary of defense had to go after it, was (according to Brian Knowlton of the Times) the “public and political opposition to the military” spreading across Europe. Who wouldn’t react similarly in the face of such an unnerving phenomenon? After all, should it grow stronger, peace on Earth will surely prove a chimera.
European publics are now, it seems, so totally peaceable that, while the thousandth American died “in and around Afghanistan” in Operation Enduring Freedom last week to next to no notice here, they continued to exhibit extraordinary “weakness.” After all, this was also the week in which—speak of the devil—the Dutch coalition government collapsed over a dispute about the public’s desire to get Dutch troops out of Afghanistan. What an example of that anti-peace bogeyman run riot! No wonder Gates was warning that the perception of weakness could lead hostile powers (unnamed) to a “temptation to miscalculate and aggression.”
Fortunately, one country is still willing to sink its money (and lives) into the armed enhancement of peace globally: the United States. As Jo Comerford of the National Priorities Project points out in her latest post at TomDispatch.com, the latest federal budget opens the American public to yet more pain, while shielding the military and the rest of the national security establishment from the same. Fortunately, that “antiwar mood” seems not to have jumped the wide Atlantic, which means, for the time being, peace is safe in America.