“Last week we had the tragicomic spectacle of European Nato countries lining up to decline politely the request to beef up their forces in Afghanistan, many of whom are now fighting in perilously under-resourced conditions against a resurgent enemy. Then on Monday Jacques Chirac went to New York to upend the long, delicate diplomacy designed to deny Iran nuclear weapons. He said France no longer thought the UN should impose sanctions if Iran did not end its uranium enrichment programme…. Then, of course, we have had the predictable European outrage following the latest apparent provocation of Islamic extremists by free speech in the West – Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks last week on Islam….
“… the scale of Europe’s moral crisis is larger than ever. Opposing the war in Iraq was one thing, defensible in the light of events. But opting out of a serious fight against the Taleban, sabotaging efforts to get Iran off its path towards nuclear status, pre-emptively cringing to Muslim intolerance of free speech and criticism, all suggest something quite different. They imply a slow but insistent collapse of the European will, the steady attrition of the self-preservation instinct. Its effects can be seen not only in the political field, but in other ways – the startling decline of birth rates across the continent that represent a sort of self-inflicted genocide….
“The symptoms of this moral collapse may be far away from the affluent and still largely peaceful cities and towns of the old continent – in the mountains of Afghanistan, the diplomatic reception halls of Tehran and the angry Pope-effigy-burning streets of the Middle East. But there should be no doubt that it is closer to home where the disease has taken hold.”
Gerard Baker in the Times, 22 September 2006