Here's why Americans and Europeans aren't on the best of terms right now: because Europeans like nothing better than discussing things ad nauseum, while Americans want to get things done ASAP.
This is a fundamental cultural difference between us, and one that causes animosity on both sides. And neither side can claim its way is perfect.
Using Iraq as an example, if it were up to the Europeans, they'd still be negotiating with Saddam, and nevermind that the rape rooms and torture rooms would still be operating, Uday and Qusay would no doubt be consolidating their power, and whatever weapons capabilities Saddam had or was trying to get would be that much further along. However, Zarqawi and al-Qaeda might not have the influence they have today, and who knows if the Madrid and London bombings would've happened.
On the other hand, the Americans said screw this, enough with the useless talk, we're gonna take care of this once and for all, and sent in the troops. We got rid of Saddam, killed his twisted kids, took care of their rape and torture rooms, and in general liberated the country from the clutches of dictatorial rule. However, in our rush to "git r done," we sorta forgot to plan for a post-Saddam Iraq, and we're seeing the increasingly negative results of that now.
So, is one side "more right" than the other? Well, I'm an American and an ex-soldier, so tempermentally I believe that doing something is almost always better than doing nothing. I don't think it's particularly "nuanced" or "sophisticated" to do nothing in the face of evil.
Yes, I do believe in that peculiar American notion that there is true evil in this world - not in a religious sense, but evil with a human face. I believe Saddam is evil. I believe Kim Jong-Il is evil. I believe that what's going on in the Sudan represents pure evil. And I believe these things should be dealt with as such, and that sometimes the bugler needs to sound the fucking charge.
On the other hand, it strikes me that Europeans (like American liberals) are extremely uncomfortable with words such as evil. Ronald Reagan was vilified for calling the Soviet Union the "evil empire," but what other name is there for a system of government that so heavily oppressed its people? I think that many Americans can't understand Europeans' general refusal to take strong moral stances, unless they're against America or Israel, of course.
Look, the nations of Western Europe are in many ways America's parents, and we love you because of that. But, as can happen with parents, you've reached the age at which things start to go south, and we have to figure out how to deal with that. Do we take you in and continue to care for you ourselves? This isn't easy, what with kids of our own in the Middle East, and with your constant bellyaching. So maybe we need to find you the best care we can, and visit you whenever we can.
We know you don't mean everything you say, that that's not really you speaking. And we know it's not your fault that your memory's going, and that you can't always remember all the nice things we've done for you.
The thing is, thanks to our relatively free medical system, we continue to make a lot of advancements in geriatric care. So maybe if you can hang on for a little longer we can find a way to reverse your aging process.We're rootin' for ya.
Update: An excellent, if dense, post over at Winds of Change on the spiritual decline (and potential suicide) of Europe. Money quote (and the conclusion of the post):
The vacation from history is ending. The vacation into ridiculously cheap hydrocarbon energy is ending. The vacation from morality as a serious subject is ending. The fight will be long, the road darker than most of us have even begun to imagine, and in the end Europe may be lost. It is a fight that will begin with al-Qaeda, but not end there. It is a fight that will cross some political lines, and harden others. It is and will be the fight of our lives - and if we screw up, of our children's lives and our children's children.
There is much work to do, on multiple fronts and in many areas, if we wish to honour and perpetuate the values, habits, and practices that have given us Western Civilization's incomparable legacy.
Contribute in any way you can. The work will be hard. Your allies may be unusual, unexpected, or even uncomfortable. Change will be part of the equation. So be it. Stand up and be counted.
Win or lose, it's worth it. We're worth it. Be part of it.