Jonah Goldberg

In 2003, Don Rumsfeld's talk of "old Europe" ignited an international firestorm. But when Biden suggests that the lamplight of liberty shines most brightly from Brussels, the collective response is either quiet nodding from the left or "there he goes again" from the right.

How about we take Biden seriously instead?

Let's look at Biden's case for Brussels as Freedom Command Alpha. It's 1,000 years old! OK. But for most (all) of that time Brussels was hardly synonymous with "freedom." Beijing is twice as old as Brussels, Cairo older still. Does that burnish their liberty-loving street cred?

Aha, but Biden adds that Brussels is the capital of Belgium! While I'm sure that's a huge matter of pride in high school ping-pong competitions against Antwerp, does anyone else care?

It's true that Brussels is the headquarters for NATO, but NATO takes its orders from a different capital -- Washington, D.C.

Then there's the fact that the EU has set up shop in Brussels. Surely this was really Biden's only point. He was telling the unaccountable Lilliputians of the EUrocracy that Gulliver sees them as equals now.

We've gone through the looking glass. Brussels has no love for freedom as we define it in the American sense, and it has little to no power to promote it in any sense. The pencil pushers in Brussels have almost as much contempt for democratic sovereignty and free enterprise as they do for common sense. Indeed, in the endless quest to ratify the EU's constitution, the leaders of the effort insisted that the voters' opinion didn't matter.

Brussels doesn't stand for freedom, it sits for its own self-aggrandizement, social engineering, the tyranny of legalisms and diplomatic argy-bargy.

It's not just offensive that Biden thinks Brussels might deserve the title over Washington, it's terrifying that he might actually think Brussels is in the freedom business at all.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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