Second, because we're behind the wheel, they can indulge their vanity by playing backseat drivers. They reject the basic assumptions of American strategic imperatives. So they toy with selling weapons to the Chinese. They play games about whether or not Islamic radicalism is even really a problem. They are always willing to credit the worst possible explanation of American actions.
A columnist for the British Sun wrote this week, "America may have given the world the space shuttle and, er, condensed milk, but behind the veneer of civilization most Americans barely have the brains to walk on their back legs." Then he got offensive, writing that the people of New Orleans were "finding themselves being blown to pieces by a helicopter gunship."
A third of Germans under 30 think America ordered the 9/11 attacks. The "theory" that the Pentagon attack was self-inflicted stagecraft is in wide circulation in France, and the subject of a best-selling book. Throughout Europe, it's easy to find commentators who take it at face value that Bush's failure to sign Kyoto led to Katrina. (It's worth noting: Clinton refused to sign it, too. And rightly so.)
There is a third reason Europe has become unreliable. The mass influx of Muslim immigrants. The political consequences of the Islamification of much of Europe will outlast George Bush for decades.
Tony Blair, a stalwart ally in Iraq, has recently been caving to Islamic radicals for domestic political considerations. He's decided to seek advice from a new "task force" on extremism that hosts a rogues' gallery of anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and apologists for bin Laden and Jihadism (one "adviser" calls bin Laden a "freedom fighter"). This hardly bodes well for Britain to stay the course in the battle against Islamic fundamentalism.
What bodes even worse is that Britain is the only country in Europe with a military capable of projecting significant military force abroad for a sustained period of time. Even if the next president, or the one after that, succeeded in winning European friends where Bush has failed, it seems unlikely those friendships will be of enormous use. Economically and militarily, Europe is increasingly second-rate.
We are in for some lonely days.