can Europe arrest American madness?

Sure, the Europeans have a better understanding of the world, but can they make a difference? Edward Said observes the scene with intelligence, and an objectivity impossible for most Americans.

The second major difference I have noticed between America and Europe is that religion and ideology play a far greater role in the former than in the latter. A recent poll taken in the United States reveals that 86 per cent of the American population believes that God loves them. There's been a lot of ranting and complaining about fanatical Islam and violent jihadists, who are thought to be a universal scourge. Of course they are, as are any fanatics who claim to do God's will and to fight his battles in his name. But what is most odd is the vast number of Christian fanatics in the US, who form the core of George Bush's support and at 60 million strong represent the single most powerful voting block in US history. Whereas church attendance is down dramatically in England it has never been higher in the United States whose strange fundamentalist Christian sects are, in my opinion, a menace to the world and furnish Bush's government with its rationale for punishing evil while righteously condemning whole populations to submission and poverty.

It is the coincidence between the Christian Right and the so-called neo-conservatives in America that fuel the drive towards unilateralism, bullying, and a sense of divine mission.

Said insists that this crusading impulse is without an equivalent in Europe.
The ideological position common to nearly everyone in the system is that America is best, its ideals perfect, its history spotless, its actions and society at the highest levels of human achievement and greatness. To argue with that -- if that is at all possible -- is to be "un-American" and guilty of the cardinal sin of anti- Americanism, which derives not from honest criticism but for hatred of the good and the pure.

No wonder then that America has never had an organised Left or real opposition party as has been the case in every European country. The substance of American discourse is that it is divided into black and white, evil and good, ours and theirs. It is the task of a lifetime to make a change in that Manichean* duality that seems to be set forever in an unchanging ideological dimension.

In an earlier paranthetical aside, we had been reminded:
Incidentally, I know no other country [than the U.S.] where the adjective "un" is used with the nationality as a way of designating the common enemy. No one says unSpanish or unChinese: these are uniquely American confections that claim to prove that we all "love" our country. How can one actually "love" something so abstract and imponderable as a country anyway?
Sigh.

He concludes with the hope that "...Europe will come to its senses and assume the countervailing role to America that its size and history entitle it to play. Until then, the war approaches inexorably."

* (seeing things in good/evil, black/white terms)