How can you doubt the progressive nature of NATO missiles when they are blessed by Europe’s socialists and the radical heroes of the sixties? To say that the leftish governments of Western Europe long ago lost any connection with socialism or that Daniel Cohn-Bendit, once known as Danny the Red, is not the first turncoat in revolutionary history would be a correct but insufficient answer. One must also explain why the protest movement against the bombing has not been louder and wider at a time when it is becoming increasingly obvious that what is at stake in this conflict–even more than the Kosovo tragedy–is the prospect of a US-led NATO acting as a world gendarme and the formation of a new Holy Alliance for the post-cold war period.
One explanation is the climate of public opinion. Shaped by a moral pressure that unscrupulously relies on the ghost of Hitler as well as the Holocaust, and an undeniable bias in the media, the mood here is quite similar to that on your side of the ocean. Milosevic is rightly branded as a bloody purger–but strangely singled out, as though "ethnic cleansing" were an exclusively Serbian disease. This distorted picture has had an impact. Here in France, for instance, where the war was first greeted with strong reservations, the horrors of deportation shown on the little screen day after day did sway the public in favor of intervention. But the mood is now slowly changing as people begin to grasp that the "credibility of NATO" matters more to the Allies than the fate of the Kosovars or the lives of the Serbs. As the bombing of Yugoslavia claims more and more victims, the spin doctors in Brussels can no longer get away with "collateral damage" and the rest of the slick, antiseptic vocabulary of computerized slaughter.
The alignment of the European socialists behind the US leader is not really surprising, and the British poodle, often barking louder than the master, shows the reason. Tony Blair’s Third Way, stripped of propaganda, is really the American model adapted for European consumption, and New Labor was, therefore, naturally enthusiastic about any scheme aiming at Euratlantic rule. While other socialists were less eager to follow the American example, they never offered an alternative project, and so, when it came to choosing sides, they opted for NATO command over Europe today and over the world tomorrow. (It is interesting that this recipe for US domination is greeted much more critically throughout Asia and in the Muslim Middle East.)
What is striking in Europe is the absence of differences between left and right within the establishment. On this issue nothing separates Lionel Jospin, the Socialist Prime Minister, from President Jacques Chirac, allegedly Gaullist, though his acceptance of American pre-eminence must have General de Gaulle spinning in his grave. The phenomenon of Social Democrats rallying to the Atlantic banner is not really a novelty. The leaders of the Greens, on the other hand, show on this occasion the zeal of new converts. Not that their conversion has been sudden or limited to military matters. The street-fighting days of Joschka Fischer, Germany’s Foreign Minister, or of Cohn-Bendit, who will lead the French Greens in the June elections to Europe’s Parliament, seem very far away. For them one must reserve the famous words of Shelley to Wordsworth, meant for all those who forsake their earlier principles: "Deserting these, thou leavest me to grieve,/Thus, having been, that thou shouldst cease to be."