By Jonah Goldberg
Civilization is not the opposite of nature, nor a ship in the opposite stream of a river. Sailors use the wind, and adapt to currents to navigate forward. But if the direction of the ship is ignored, the wind will lead the ship in an undesirable direction. Healthy fish swim against the stream; he died in the direction of the current.
The most famous of those who declared the "Zero Year" were French revolutionaries. They wanted to wipe out everything, and to redefine humanity from scratch. They wanted to throw away the history books, and the grammar of human nature, to invent something entirely new.
But as you learned at the end as the Jacobins and the Hippies in the 1960s, and when you destroy the whole ecosystem of human institutions, you always fail to eradicate the "oaks" and "sprouts" whose roots keep the soil stable, and the herbs that keep water and keep the creatures on which we rely on our food.
Today people are getting lost. See NATO and its problems. For years, we have subsidized the welfare state in Europe, coping with part of their defense spending. Perhaps even worse, the European elites have acted as the peace and prosperity they have enjoyed over the last 70 years, have been invented around the sophisticated conference tables in Geneva and Paris.
I have no problem with the argument that NATO has become very big. I do not necessarily agree with this, but it is a reasonable argument. And so is the argument that the alliance should not be bigger. But all free talks about how we may not have to respect Article 5, which requires mutual protection if a NATO member is attacked, are a foolish one.
The bloody rhetoric about "Why should my son die for Montenegro?" Is simply a recycling of debates before World War II. "Why do we have to die for Dancing?" However, the debate lacks an important element. If it came to war, it would not only be for Montenegro, but for NATO. And it is worth fighting for.
I think that Montenegro's accession to NATO was a good idea. The fact that the Russians have worked so hard to prevent this - almost overthrowing the Montenegrin government in a coup to stop the country's entry to NATO - suggests that they understood better than many Americans about what was at stake.
Among other things, this denies Russia access to the Mediterranean - and at a very low cost for us. As John Podorec points out, if it is in our strategic interest to block Russian ambitions in that direction. And Montenegro's involvement in NATO is much cheaper than the positioning of US aircraft and troops in the region.
But I am concerned that we are entering a very dangerous chapter in world history. Mainly with the idea that international institutions, built on the ruins of the two onslaughts of two world wars, should pave the way for a new glorious era of nationalism that electrify people's minds in the West.
It is a very strange epidemic of the "Zero Year" mentality globally. As a supporter of Edmund Burke, I am open to reform: gradual, well-thought-out reforms that improve what we have already built. But recent rhetoric has nothing to do with this. It is the closest defense weapon for a president who does not even understand how NATO works.
When the Jacobins destroyed everything in the name of "Zero Year", what followed was not a utopian society of perfect reason. What followed was an explosion of the worst aspects of human nature, including terror, invading wars, and eventually Napoleon, even with more invasive wars.
Without Napoleon, Germany probably would never have been united (all German nationalists were initially against French political and cultural dominance). And without a united Germany imagined in the concepts of theutmonic exaltation, all kinds of apparent disasters - including the world wars and the birth of the Soviet Union - could have been avoided.
Naturally, there could be other bad things. But these things happened. We reacted wisely, setting up institutions to prevent the repetition of these disasters - and this has worked in Europe.
There is a strangely persuasive assumption, in most of these conversations with a nationalist background, that these international institutions established by the US have not served our interests. This is a dangerous nonsense. Could they have served our interests better?
Of course. There is always room for better. But should we feel foolish about their creation? Of course not. To imitate President Trump, "a prosperous and peaceful Europe is a good thing, not a bad thing."
But there is no evidence that the disappearance of these institutions would be a step towards a new utopian World Order. It would be more likely to return to the Old World Chaos of the wars, the protectionism and the logic of a global prison.
I'm not saying that all those who rush to protect or attack Trump's attitudes about these issues are utopian or nihilistic. Nor do I say that every NATO critic is wrong in every respect. But I'm saying this is a serious conversation that needs to be seriously done, because the development of such debates is also dangerous. And if we are not careful, the situation will get out of control, and we will have a huge amount of re-learning to learn.
“National Review” Brought to you by @helamia
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