Thursday, December 1, 1988

Europe and the Reagan Years

Foreign Affairs published an article called “Europe and the Reagan Years.” The article was written by Paul Johnson, a British historian, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, and a recipient of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom. As the title suggests, the article was about how Europe perceived the Reagan administration. The short answer is they loved it. Especially when compared to Congress.

Congress was not an institution that Europe admired, according to Johnson. Europeans had “much more confidence in the White House” than they had in Congress. But in his article, Johnson never explained why this was so.

Many nations like to use the good cop, bad cop negotiating strategy against other nations, and America is no exception. In this scheme, Congress will typically play the bad cop while the President will play the good cop. The president will pretend to support policies that other nations want only to have Congress reject those proposals. America believes this technique will allow the President to maintain his popularity overseas while Congress gets the blame for failing to enact the policies that other countries want.

The real end of the Cold War

This is not to say that Europe likes many of the presidents we elect, far from it. According to Johnson, until the Reagan administration, the office of the American presidency had been in steady decline since Lyndon Johnson, much to the dismay of Europe. Johnson “was broken on the fiery wheel of Vietnam.” Nixon was sunk by Watergate, “an episode the Europeans were never able to take seriously.”1 But for Europe, by far, the worst of the worst was Jimmy Carter. Johnson referred to him as “the nadir of the postwar American presidency.” Carter was “a product of a bad time, mired by the overwhelming nature of the problems he lacked the strength to tackle.”

Johnson referred to Carter “as a man who did not know how to handle the Soviet Union.” According to Johnson, when Russia saw Jimmy Carter act weak, they took that as a sign that they could do whatever they wanted without facing any consequences and so they started causing trouble all around the world. For example, they invaded Afghanistan.

And of course, nothing symbolized the weakness of Jimmy Carter more than his handling of the Iran hostage crisis. According to Johnson, his weakness allowed the hostage crisis to develop in the first place. But Johnson never explains this idea. He never says what Carter did or didn’t do that led to the Iran hostage crisis. So let me take a stab at it.

First, a little background. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was nothing more than a client state of the West. Since my involvement in the New Diplomacy, my government has repeatedly “told” me, and given me evidence, which supports this conclusion.2 In reality, the Cold War was not about the Soviet Union. It was really about splitting Japan and China.3 That has been the focus of much of U.S. and European foreign policy over the past century.

In order to split those two countries, the West had to group everyone into two distinct categories. One category was the “democratic” countries, which included Western Europe, America, and Japan. The other category was the “communist” countries, which included the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea. Those countries were our enemies, and so we severed our economic relationship with them. That prevented China and North Korea from modernizing.

During the Cold War, the West used the Soviets to try and coax the Chinese into doing what the West wanted. This too, was a form of the good cop, bad cop routine. For the Chinese, the Russians were supposed to be the good cop while the West was supposed to be the bad cop. However, I believe the Chinese knew what the West was doing and so the relationship between the Soviets and the Chinese was fairly strained throughout most of the Cold War.

But having the Soviets lead the Communists block had other consequences too. With the Soviets in charge, that prevented China from taking the lead of the Communist movement. Furthermore, the Europeans (who presumably controlled the behavior of the Russians), used the Russians to train American policymakers like dogs.

Whenever America did something favorable for China (or East Asians more broadly), this would “embolden” the Soviets. The Soviets would “see” that America was “weak” and they would do something really stupid and crazy. And then the Europeans would tell America, “See, this is why you can’t act weak. The Soviets will do something crazy.” In reality, the Europeans were punishing America for doing something nice for the yellow people.

In reality, many of the people who attack Jimmy Carter actually approved of this handling of Iran. The hostage crisis drove up the price of oil and that hurt Japan, as Japan imports essentially all its oil. I doubt many Europeans have a problem with Carter taking a swing at Japan. Furthermore, the hostage crisis greatly damaged the relationship between Iran and the West and the sanctions imposed on Iran greatly impaired the economic development of that country. And there’s nothing that the West wants more than to prevent a Muslim nation from developing.

But what really made the Europeans quake in fear were the inconceivable gains that East Asia made during the Carter administration. During that administration, there were several key developments in that region, developments that would eventually completely transform the world and reestablish the natural order of things.

The first development happened on October 22, 1978. On that day, Deng Xiaoping traveled to Japan. According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the modernization process in China began with this trip, wherein Japan agreed to help China modernize.

The second development happened on December 25, 1978, when Vietnam invaded Cambodia. After World War II, France tried to reassert her domination over Indochina. However, Vietnam would decisively defeat both France and America. French influence in Vietnam would be completely obliterated. However, after the Vietnam War, France still had influence in Cambodia. But that would all end during the Carter administration. In two short weeks, Vietnam would achieve an ultimate victory against the Khmer Rouge, the French puppet regime in Cambodia.

The third decisive development happened on January 1, 1979. On that day, America and China normalized their relations.

These developments are the real reason why the Europeans reacted to Carter not with derision but with anxiety.4 These developments are the reason why Europeans would rather see a “brashly self-confident America” than a declining America. More than anything else, Europeans fear the return of the predominance of Asia in global affairs.5

With relations between Japan and China set to improve, with relations normalized between China and America, with Europe ejected from every country in Southeast Asia, the reason for the Cold War had ended. For the West, this was tantamount to ultimate defeat. However, the public did not know this. They thought the Cold War was really about Russia. As such, the West still had a chance to create the illusion of success, despite the reality of their decisive defeat. And so they decided to engineer a pyrrhic victory – the destruction of the Soviet Union. And they decided to have Ronald Reagan do it.

Reagan

Destroying the Soviet Union would not be hard, as the Soviet Union was a client state of the West to begin with. Any idiot could do the job. And Reagan fit that definition pretty well. Europe loved him. For Europe, Reagan could not have been more different from Carter. Europe greeted his administration with relief. Johnson characterized Reagan as “a man of few but strong and simple ideas, firmly held and confidently executed.” In contrast to Carter, whom he labeled “inconsistent and wavering,” Reagan was consistent, predictable, and acted without hesitation. In a word, Europe found Reagan “reassuring.”

“Unlike Carter, Reagan had both a political philosophy and a world outlook, both of them quite clear, in relation to which Europeans could orient themselves,” said Johnson.

Presumably, this made it easy for the Europeans to predict U.S. policy and to formulate theirs accordingly.

Military spending

For Europe, Reagan was even more popular than Eisenhower. And that’s saying something. In his article, Johnson insists that Europe did not like the way Eisenhower disrupted the French Suez expedition in 1956. But I think that whole episode was a bunch of theater. Historians often mark this episode as the end of the European empire. And they blame America for what happened. But in fact I think Europe wanted Eisenhower to use this episode to bring European imperialism to a halt. Again, appearances really matter to the Europeans. They would rather have history record that America brought their empire to an end than record the truth, which was that East Asia smashed their empire into a million pieces. But rather than admit that, the West staged some silly, pseudo falling out between America and Europe.6

Aside from keeping up appearances, the Suez crisis had a few other effects that the Europeans liked. In response to the crisis, Europe stated dealing with America using the good cop, bad cop method, with Britain and France at the forefront. Britain became the good cop. France became the bad cop. Britain tried to maintain a good relationship with America while France maintained an adversarial relationship with America. In theory, this strategy would allow Europe to gain the benefit of having good relations with America (which Britain would receive), while at the same time being able to strike out at America whenever they wanted (that would be France’s job).

And most importantly, with Europe in retreat, that meant European military spending could go down. America would now be responsible for defending the “free world.” As such, Europe would demand that America pay for her defense. And this was the great benefit for Europe. Some say that Japan has been copying what other countries have been doing. But in this case, it appears that Europe copied what Japan did. After World War II, Japan made a bargain with America in which America would provide for the defense of Japan while Japan would focus on economic development, rather than empire building. This doctrine would become known as the Yoshida Doctrine.7

Of course, America would rather have Europe pay for her own defense. But Europe wanted America to pay for her defense. Needless to say, this difference of opinion was the source of a considerable amount of tension. During the Reagan administration, there were several battles between Europe and America over military spending. The Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty was one of them. Of course, Europe had serious doubts about both the principles and content of the treaty, as the treaty would limit U.S. defense spending. But in the end, Europe accepted the treaty because of “the kind of leadership Reagan had reestablished in Washington” and because they were satisfied with the overall level of U.S. armament. Remember, during the Reagan years, America dramatically increased military spending. Europe liked this. And Reagan engaged in other efforts to appease the Europeans. For example, according to Johnson, he deployed cruise missiles and Pershing systems in Europe. Johnson referred to these weapons deployment as “the critical factor” which “forced” the Russians to negotiate seriously on the INF Treaty. But in reality, this is a diplomatic way of saying that Europe allowed the Russians to sign the INF Treaty (which is what America wanted), after America agreed to deploy those weapon systems in Europe (which is what Europe wanted).

For Johnson, Reagan’s decision to increase military spending was an example of the importance of will in politics.

“For the Reagan Administration’s decision to rearm was essentially an act of will – the will of one simple, single-minded man,” said Johnson.

And this is why Europe liked Reagan. He was a simple man (read stupid). And because he was stupid, the Europeans could convince him to do stupid things. For example, for America, spending a lot of money on our military is stupid. It increases our trade deficit. Instead of spending that money on our military, we could have, for example, spent that money on boosting the capability of our export sector. But that would have impinged on European exports and so Europe would not have liked that. By contrast, military spending mostly just increases domestic demand, as the items produced are simply collected by our government.

The Reagan defense program had a significant impact on the U.S. economy. Before the Reagan administration, America used to run trade surpluses. But after his administration, we began running trade deficits. Having a trade deficit is fun until your creditors decide that they want their money back. Then you’re in for a very rude awakening. This process can take sometime to play out, as it did in our case, but when it does, it ain’t pretty. Just ask Greece.

Though he did not say it explicitly, Johnson does hint that Europe liked our trade deficit. While noting that Europe had asked America to reduce its fiscal deficit, Johnson noted that Europe benefited from the American trade deficit, which led to higher European exports and higher European investment in America. According to him, “the growing interdependence of the world’s financial, business and investment communities and is seen in Europe as a further guarantee against American isolationism.”

Let’s screw Russia

And the Reagan economic expansion had another benefit, according to Johnson. Russia undertook perestroika after seeing how the U.S. economy performed under the Reagan administration.

“Without American dynamism in the 1980s it is highly unlikely that the Soviet leadership would have set out on the unknown, risky and potentially disastrous road of reform,” said Johnson.

And disastrous it was. In stark contrast to the way Japan helped China develop her economy after Deng Xiaoping visited Japan, the West absolutely obliterated the Russian economy in the 90s. This effort, led by Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Harvard, would destroy an economy to an extent that is incomprehensible in peace time. All the while, as Johnson suggests, Europe was quietly cheering our actions on the sidelines.

In fact, a consistent theme of the postwar era has been quiet European support for American policies which destroyed non-western countries. Aside from simply wanting to keep non-whites poor and miserable, Europe also wanted America to hurt her standing in the developing world (which is another consistent theme during the postwar era). Of course, the Europeans won’t say this publicly. Instead, they will demand that America act boldly. They will, as Johnson says, demand that America act “firmly” against “any serious threat” to the West.

Of course, if Europe can make a developing country do something stupid, that will invite a “firm” response from America, then Europe can get its wish – the destruction of another third world country. Europe (and America) can do this because many of the people who run developing countries were “educated” in the West. They seem to be our stooges. They consistently engage in ridiculous and moronic behavior8 which invites retribution (which we are happy to supply).

The Falklands

The Falklands War was a good example of this. In 1982, Britain fought a war with Argentina over the Falklands. During the war, Britain asked for assistance from America. Of course, on the other side of that, Latin America wanted the U.S. to stay neutral. In the end, much to the chagrin of Latin America, we decided to support the British attack against Argentina. According to Johnson, Britain “will not soon forget” our support. Indeed, all of Europe approved of our actions and the fact that Latin America wanted us to remain on the sidelines “greatly enhanced [Reagan’s] action in European eyes.”

To Europe, “Reagan was seen as a president who was willing to put the interests of his European political partners, when need be, above global considerations,” said Johnson.

Grenada

So after we supported the European invasion of Argentina, you would think that Europe would support us when we invaded a Latin American country. Well, here’s the thing. You must understand that the defining characteristic of the West is hypocrisy. As such, our invasion of Grenada drew strong, public opposition from Margaret Thatcher. But not surprisingly, Johnson implied that Britain actually approved of our invasion of Grenada. Here’s how he said it.

“In time [Margaret Thatcher] came to see that Reagan had been right, though she never admitted it to him,” said Johnson.

Presumably, she approved of the action all along, as this was yet another incident that would hurt our standing in Latin America. Meanwhile, the invasion may have actually improved Europe’s standing in Latin America as Europe strongly opposed our actions (while secretly approving of them because they like to see non-whites die). Ah allies, ain’t they grand?

Libya

As for the U.S. bombing of Libya in 1986, though Britain was the only European power who officially supported the operation, others privately supported the operation, in particular the Germans and the Italians. Johnson noted that in the wake of the attack, Gaddafi decreased his support of terrorist activity. Johnson called this reduction “limited and perhaps transitory.” It was definitely transitory.

In fact my government has “explained” to me what happened in this instance. If you read this secret CIA memo, you will see that America has often supported the Irish terrorists who attack Britain. Britain has repeatedly asked us to crack down on these terrorists. But for a long time, we had refused to do that, presumably because we were using them to attack Britain. However, we did take some action after Britain supported our bombing of Libya. My government has “told” me that we struck a deal with the British. We agreed to crack down on the IRA if Britain agreed to crack down on Libyan terrorism.

Our Libya bombing “intimidated” Gaddafi into reducing his support for terrorism. However, according to my government, the bombing idea was the idea of the Europeans. They knew that when we bombed Libya our standing in the Muslim world would go down. And that’s why they wanted it. So basically, the deal was, America cracks down on IRA terrorism, Europe cracks down on Libyan terrorism, and America does something to hurt its standing in the Muslim world. Ah allies, ain’t they grand?

Iran Contra

According to Johnson, Europe wanted America to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. Given that Congress was unwillingness to fund the Contras, Europe agreed that the President had to do something. But Europe strongly disapproved with the Iran Contra scheme wherein we sold weapons to Iran and used that money to fund the Contras.

“That was hard to forgive, and has not been forgiven, though it is sensibly placed against the perspective of his general prudence and success,” said Johnson.

In fact, if there was one major gripe that Europe had about Reagan, it was his handling of terrorism. According to Johnson, Europe could not find any consistency in the way he dealt with terrorism. Apparently, Europe wanted Reagan to listen to George Shultz, who said that America would never negotiate with terrorists.

About those embassies of yours…

According to Johnson, even Reagan’s obvious mistakes “aroused remarkably little resentment in Europe.” During his presidency, there was a sharp decline in anti-Americanism in Europe.

“It has proved remarkably difficult for the far left to assemble a rent-a-mob and march on an American embassy,” said Johnson.

As for the reason why, according to Johnson, Europe was doing well, meaning there was less “jealousy and resentment at American prosperity.” In other words, if the European economy isn’t doing well, we’re going to storm one of your embassies. Ah allies, ain’t they grand?

Johnson listed another “equally important” reason why Europe hadn’t attacked a U.S. embassy during the Reagan years. Apparently, Europe approved of Reagan’s handling of foreign policy, meaning, presumably, that Europe really likes it when we do something to destroy our relationship with Latin America. Wait, what did I just say about allies?

The next stooge

According to Johnson, the Reagan administration had engineered “a major strategic success” for the West. And so by the end of the Reagan administration, America and Russia had swapped places. When Reagan became president, America was just emerging from the tumultuous 60s and 70s. By contrast, the Soviet Union was stable.

“From this secure base the Soviet leaders could take initiatives and, to a great extent, set the agenda for action all over the world,” said Johnson.

But by the end of the Reagan administration, the Soviet Union was in a state of internal turmoil. They had been put on the defensive. Interestingly, Europe came to this epiphany only two years ago.9

Anyways, with Eastern Europe in a state of flux, Bush had a chance to build on Reagan’s legacy knowing that Russia would not engage in “acquisitive geopolitics.”

In other words, now that you’ve appeased us, we’ll keep the Soviets from getting too wild.

“No American president in modern times has begun with such an advantage, and Europeans will judge Bush on the finesse with which he makes use of it,” said Johnson.

At the beginning of his article, Johnson said the relationship between America and Europe was the “fulcrum of stability” for the world.

“We have learned one lesson in the last half-century: the well-being of the world depends, above all, on the sensible pursuit of common aims by the United States and the free European peoples,” said Johnson.

This is ridiculous. In fact, what is abundantly clear is that the well-being of the world hinges on the replacement of the West. We have killed too many, lied too much, spent too much, and now the bills are due. It’s time to make way for someone who can do a better job then we have. It’s time for a new world order based on Oriental leadership.


1 His comment is further evidence that Watergate was political theater. I’ll explain what that is later on.

2 Here’s a few examples. At the UN Security Council, Russia did not veto the resolution which allowed the UN to go to war against North Korea. Khrushchev refused to give China the information she needed to build a nuclear weapons arsenal. On the other hand, Russian spies somehow “miraculously stole” that information from America. My government has “told” me that we purposefully handed over that information to the Russians.

3 I’ll go over this in much more detail later but if you want something now, consider this. One of the documents contained in the Pentagon Papers was a memorandum written by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on March 12, 1954. The memo warned of the dangers of a united East Asia involving Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. Here a quote from that memo.

“The rice, tin, rubber, and oil of Southeast Asia and the industrial capacity of Japan are the essential elements which Red China needs to build a monolithic military structure far more formidable than that of Japan prior to World War II. If this complex of military power is permitted to develop to its full potential, it would ultimately control the entire Western and Southwestern Pacific region and would threaten South Asia and the Middle East.”

4 In his article, Johnson claimed that Europe feared American decline because, “Superpowers in decay are dangerous animals.” To some extent that is true, as powers in decline are prone to striking out at others in order to maintain their power and in the process make things worse for everyone (e.g. see the Obama administration). However, Europe took a much more sanguine approach to the decline of Russia, so I think, in reality, my theory that Europe fears East Asia is much more accurate than what Johnson said.

5 Although Johnson hardly mentions East Asia at all in his article, some of his comments suggest this. For example, he referred to the Carter administration as “the culminating point in a process of White House decline that had begun in 1968.” I can only assume that the process he was referring to was our long, drawn out process in which we normalized relations with China. That process began in the Nixon administration (Nixon was first elected in 1968).

6 Actually, this was kind of like the West claiming victory after the Cold War ended. We destroyed our client state, the Soviet Union. But the purpose of the Cold War was to keep East Asia down.

7 The doctrine was named after Shigeru Yoshida, a former prime minister of Japan.

8 For example, see Muammar Gaddafi, the leaders of Pakistan, etc.

9 Presumably, Johnson made this comment in order to suggest that two years ago, America did something or started to do something that Europe approved of. I do not know what this is.