We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Why Andrew Sullivan does not thrill me

And of course I am sure he does not particularly care what I think either. In an article titled Europe and Liberalism, he notes that Ramesh Ponnuru has praised him for changing his mind about the European Union.

Sullivan now thinks the European Union is not such a good thing as he once thought and both he and Ponnuru have finally noticed that having the EU completely swallow Britain is also not in the national interests of the USA. In fact that Americentric utilitarian observation seems to be the entire basis for their opposition to The Great European Project. Massive regulatory statism? Dramatic erosion of due process? Ever higher taxes? ‘Fortress Europe’ trade barriers with the rest of the world? Spectacular corruption? Higher unemployment? No… the reason to finally start glaring at the EU across the Atlantic is to preserve the UK’s ability to support the US in foreign policy matters and to work for US interests from within the bastions of Fortress Europe.

This narrow utilitarian argument seems to be what has brought Sullivan to stop being a cheerleader for the EU without much of a nod to the idea that maybe the EU is bad for Britain. So whilst I am happy to see a fairly influential commentator like Sullivan stop arguing Britain should embrace the EU even more deeply, he has nothing whatsoever to contribute to the British domestic debate on the subject. In fact, the stated views of Sullivan play to anti-American sentiments within Britain so harmoniously that I really wish he would just shut the f**k up.

To argue that the reason Britain should not allow its national sovereignty and identity to be submerged by Europe is because it does not suit the United States, is to put many of the people who dislike the EU in Britain in rather a quandary. Many such folks dislike the EU because British interests matter far more to them that those of the EU… and for exactly the same reason they are also highly suspicious of the USA, seeing it as subordinating ‘our’ interests to ‘their’ interests. For an example of anti-EU sentiments allied to deep and festering suspicion of the USA, you need look no further than Air Strip One. I see little value in Sullivan actively kicking the none-too-tight lid off latent anti-Americanism with statements like:

Keeping Britain both in the [United States of Europe] and outside of it militarily, diplomatically, and monetarily should become a prime U.S. objective in foreign policy. Without it, the United States could lose its most valuable military and diplomatic ally.

But the fact is almost no one who actually (in theory) gets a vote on the subject, not even Atlanticist enthusiasts like myself, think US interests are more than passingly germane when trying to argue against Britain sleepwalking to the gaping maw of that half-dead and half-mad leviathan called the European Union.

It seems Sullivan is no fan of the social/cultural Anglosphere meme. What with him being a party political right-statist (a Republican) and only a passing commentator on things like objective rights and moral philosophy, I suppose it is not all that surprising to read him taking a highly collectivist ‘American national interests’ view of pretty much everything, but then this is precisely why his views are of little value in any positive way to people outside his American national collective.

I would argue that the Anglosphere does exist as a cultural vibe, but it is something that can be made a great deal weaker precisely by attitudes like Sullivan’s. The underlying cultural basis for UK political support for US actions in Iraq sprang from these very real Anglosphere notions. Yet if I thought the United States government was working to keep Britain inside a United States of Europe (just not too far inside) for its own interests and at our expense, which is to say working against people like me who are calling for the UK’s complete withdrawal from the EU, then I would be bulk purchasing US flags to burn in demonstrations in central London… and if a relentlessly Atlanticist Anglosphere person such as me thinks that, one can only speculate what less pro-American segments of popular opinion might think.

If the US government wants Britain as an ally, fine. But if it wants to sacrifice individual British people as political cannon fodder to mitigate the effects of EU power? Want to know where you can stick that? I will continue to regard US civil society as having many admirable qualities and still feel an Atlanticist affinity to it regardless… but at that point the US government loses its ‘lesser evil’ status for me and becomes just another enemy on every level as the last basis for having incidental common goals vanishes.

38 comments to Why Andrew Sullivan does not thrill me

  • Johan

    “If the US government wants Britain as an ally, fine. But if it wants to sacrifice individual British people as political cannon fodder to mitigate the effects of EU power?”

    isn’t it just Andrew Sullivan who goes along those lines (of sacrificing individual British people)? He’s not Bush, right? Is there any indications that Bush & Friends would think the same way Andrew does?

    No need to burn any flags….

  • Yes, Johan and so what? You may have noticed we don’t sing praises to Bush & Friends either.

  • Johan

    Never said you sing praises to Bush & Friends. Just asking some simple questions.

  • OK, what are the questions? Me stupid, I can’t work out what you are asking…

  • Johan

    Is there any indications that Bush & Friends would think the same way Andrew does?

    I was, and I am, genuinely curious. Not all of the commenters who ask questions are bad :) some just want to know

  • S. Weasel

    Or, to put it another way, if you can’t distinguish between some guy’s blog, and the whole nation he springs from, this might be a great day to go outside and play in the sunshine.

  • Johan: my point is that I would not like it if the reasons behind Sullivan’s views become widely accepted. I applaud him not thinking the EU is a good thing but find his underlying thinking alarming.

    And btw.. the ‘flag burning’ remark is just a devise to convey to US readers the depth of feeling involved. To me, flags are just coloured bits of cloth and not sacred icons, but I suspect most US readers will ‘get my point’.

  • Johan

    Thank you Perry. Yes, and I agree with you too. I was just curious to find out if his views are shared by Bush & Friends, which I hope not (thus my question “Is there any indications that Bush & Friends would think the same way Andrew does?”)

    And on burning flags – I got your point, and I should’ve expressed myself more clearly than just “No need to burn any flags…” Most of the times I’ve seen American flags burning, it has been by anyone who hates America and all that it stands for (liberty, capitalism, pursuit of happiness etc. (all the things I love)) but don’t worry, I know you don’t belong to that group :)

  • Liberty Belle

    Gabriel Syme – “isn’t it just Andrew Sullivan who goes along those lines (of sacrificing individual British people?)” Does the name Tony Blair not spring to mind?

  • S. Weasel

    To me, flags are just coloured bits of cloth and not sacred icons, but I suspect most US readers will ‘get my point’.

    In other words, you used language that is meaningless to you but that you know will be emotionally disturbing to your intended audience…and you call us selfish and provincial? Happily, I am not a collectivist, and I have no trouble distinguishing between some guy scribbling into his own blog and the country that issued his passport.

  • Weasel: The whole objective for me is to accurately convey the depth of feelings involved from my perspective, that of a cultural Anglospherist. I know exactly how Americans feel when they see their national flag being burned in some far off place… they take it personally. Well now you know how I feel when someone like Andrew Sullivan writes something like that indicating he thinks Britain’s ancient legal traditions and relatively free economy are something that can be sacrificed in the Unites States government’s narrow and transitory diplomatic interests. The key point that ‘set me off’ was his remark:

    Keeping Britain both in the [United States of Europe] and outside of it militarily, diplomatically, and monetarily should become a prime U.S. objective in foreign policy

    Yes, the article is intentionally provocative and the fact even someone like you (and I mean that in the best possible way) rises to the bait indicates I have made my point rather well.

  • S. Weasel

    Well, yes, if the point was that bloggers on both sides of the Atlantic can be self-absorbed jerks.

  • I thought that Sullivan’s article was illogical: he wants to stay in the EU “as it is” and shows a deep ignorance of its dynamic towards “ever closer union”. Although he views the proposed constitutional draft as “abhorrent”, he does not present any alternative strategy for Britain and reproduces the hoary ‘trojan horse’ argument.

    One of my points back in May was that, whilst Britain remains dependent upon US security, it is in the interests of Eurosceptics to foster a public debate on the EU in the States with the goal of favouring British withdrawal. Utilitarian arguments in favour of this goal should be welcomed; those against should be attacked.

    As for “deep and festering suspicion”, read a view that the United States acts in its own national interests and these, often, do not coincide with GB’s, which should act in its own interests. But that’s a long-term goal, like the freedom to bear arms, the freedom to absolute property rights, a free market space port based on Alexandra Palace, etc. etc.

  • Johan

    just wondering Perry, on my first and original genuinely curious question: Is there any indications that Bush & Friends would think (or reason, whatever you like) the same way Andrew does?

  • S. Weasel

    Johan: a short answer might be, less so than their predecessors. American policy has consistency shown an unfortunate tendency to push Britain into the arms of the EU, presumably in hopes we’ll have an ally in Europe’s camp. It looks like it may be dawning on our guys at last that Europe is fundamentally Not a Good Thing to get our best ally stuck into.

    The fact that both the pro- and con- arguments are viewed from the point of view of is-it-good-for-America is entirely right and proper for government officials. It’s what we hire them to care about.

  • Arjuna

    It was a bad essay from a good commentator. If his view was somewhat self-centered, its easy to let EU news slip if your American, as the debate over it seems as exciting as CSPAN. Then you make the realization “holy shit, they are about to be consumed by the borg!” then the next realization hits “who will help with our latest plan to piss off the world?” and then finally when you have gone through all those stages it might occur to you that those English might not like to be consumed by a huge DMV that operates in Belgium. In all honesty, I had no idea what the belonging to the EU really meant, or even that England was in it, till I started blogging. Anyway, I am sure Sullivan (like the rest of us) prays for the EU to fall off a cliff before its able to eat England, and not only because we lose our best ally.

  • I am still not really sure why Weasel thinks I should not have expressed my views that way. Does he feel I have gored a sacred cow by invoking that most un-American of acts ‘Flag Burning’ as a way of conveying the hostility I feel to what I think Sullivan’s view are? If so, why does that make me ‘self-absorbed’? Or is my sin to have suggested some people in Britain might not like the idea of some folks in the US suggesting a prime objective of US foreign policy should be keeping Britain in the EU? If so, why does that make me self-absorbed? Just curious.

    As for what is ‘right and proper’ for government officials, I was not under the impression Andrew Sullivan was one. I was just suggesting that if he argues against the EU on that basis, do not be surprised if anti-EU people in the UK start to see the US as part of the problem rather than part of the solution, and start adjusting their long term political views accordingly. Certainly if was faced with the deeply unpleasant choice of UK staying in the EU and remaining a US ally or UK leaving the EU and seriously downgrading relations with the USA, I would sadly be forced to support the later and stop regarding the US as a long term strategic ally to Britain. If some US commentators cannot see that being narrowly self interested in the short term is sometimes a long term strategic blunder, then I feel a need to suggest they might like to look at things differently.

  • Dan McWiggins

    For this U.S. citizen, it’s simply a matter of not wanting to see a nation disappear whose greatness time and time again has inspired America. Many times the problems you’ve faced there have been encountered over here some years later and we’ve been able to use your response as a guideline for ours. Great Britain is at its best when acting as primus inter pares in the Anglosphere. The slightest possibility of that position being abandoned is deeply worrying. Far more would be lost than is immediately apparent. We, the U.S. and Britain, are both at our best when acting in concert (F.D.R./Churchill, Thatcher/Reagan). In a very unpleasant world, we are each the best ally the other has any hope of having because no one else who could really help in a serious crisis (no slight intended to Oz or Canada–they’re just too small) has a deep enough connection to justify risking losses up to and including nuclear war. No need for buying that bonfire fodder, Perry. Lots of us are willing to do whatever we can to help you from this side of the pond. Our problem is that we’re waiting for those on your side who share your sentiments to decide what you need us to do.

  • George Peery

    Yesterday, on a related topic on this blog, I opined that the euro/EU might not be in Britain’s interest; but if it was, I was unaware of that case being made. I mentioned in passing that I was American but my comment alluded not at all to what might or might not be in the interests of the US.

    For my trouble, someone wrote in telling me in essence to stick to my own bloody knitting — that the opinion of a American was unwelcome.

    Now Andrew Sullivan is taken to task here for assessing British EU integration in terms of US self-interest. I’m not sure what passport Sullivan carries these days, but I’m pretty sure he lives in the US and writes principally for American audiences.

    Now, it’s perfectly understandable that you British have little (if any) interest in analyzing this important issue in terms of its affect on the US. But it could be argued that an American pundit would be failing in his duty if he did not do so — because what the British do with reference to the EU is important to very many people who are not British.

    I’ll confess to not having read through all the comments here, but let’s be sure everyone realizes that every American administration, for decades now, has supported European integration. That remains true today.

    Meanwhile, this Samizdata blog is international, just like everything on the Internet. Short of an IP ban, non-Britishers can be expected to comment on British political issues. Get used to it.

  • I’m an American, and I hate the EU because it is being run by weasels hellbent on destroying Britain and the rest of Europe just to create a larger anti-American power. I also hate the EU for other reasons.

  • S. Weasel

    I was just suggesting that if he argues against the EU on that basis, do not be surprised if anti-EU people in the UK start to see the US as part of the problem rather than part of the solution, and start adjusting their long term political views accordingly.

    Only those anti-EU people who are completely incapable of discerning the difference between Andrew Sullivan and the United States of America.

  • Nancy

    The problem is one of political reality. Whatever Perry and the rest of the Samizdatatistas think, they don’t run the government. The American government has to do business with the British government as it actually exists, knowing full well that what the British people want or feel seems to have little to do with what the government in power does. There is such a tremendous amount of enmity for America by so many factions of British politicos throughout the political spectrum (when was the last time Charles Kennedy said anything nice about the States? To the contrary, the little squit seems convinced that his personal stature rises every time he takes a shot), that America is forced to deal with Britain on a leader by leader basis. Bush and Co. know that Tony Blair is an increasingly unpopular leader in the UK, but they also know that Iain Duncan Smith doesn’t have a chance in hell of beating him. Who else might they have to deal with – Gordon Brown? That’s bad enough. Robin Cook, perhaps? Claire Short?

    It’s a question America has a responsibility to ask in its’ own national interest – what sort of ally would Britain be with someone like Cook at the helm? What inherent value does inclusion in the “Anglosphere” hold for someone like him? In the absence of being able to count on Britain as an ally, America will (entirely correctly) take a position it sees as in its own best interest.

  • George Peery: this Samizdata blog is international, just like everything on the Internet. Short of an IP ban, non-Britishers can be expected to comment on British political issues. Get used to it.

    I don’t know whether you have noticed but most of our readers are from the US. Incidentatly, one of our aims is to get “non-Britishers” to comment on British political issues, since it means that they are at least interested in them…

    However, the point of Perry’s article does not rest with Sullivan commenting on UK policy towards EU or anything. Frankly, he can comment on whatever he wants. By the same merit, we may choose to read his comments and comment on them. Still with me?

    Perry has tried to show that the ‘realpolitik’ perspective Sullivan adopted in assessing whether Britain’s membership in the EU is a good or bad thing, is short-sighted and narrowly utilitarian at best, and offfensive and counter-productive at worst.

    It does nothing to strenghten the ‘special relationship’ that we, together with many other Brits and Americans, value. The affinity between the two nations is best summed up in the term Anglosphere, which suggests more than a political alliance.

    At even, at the level of a simple political alliance, Sullivan is short-sighted in focusing on the US national interest only. An alliance works only if there are common interests shared by the allies. Sullivan has never mentioned British interest, so I guess he is not talking about an alliance with Britian, merely a tool, an extended arm of the US foreign policy. Well, excuse us for existing…

    Finally,
    …but I’m pretty sure he lives in the US and writes principally for American audiences.

    So it is OK for Sullivan to tailor his posts to US audience despite the fact that his blog can be read by anyone in the world. You could say that, in fact, his blog is international, so “short of an IP ban, non-Americaners can be expected to comment on American political issues. Get used to it.”

  • Russ Goble

    Wow, both Sullivan & Perry seem to have hit a nerve. Perry, I really like most everything you say and the perspective you shared in your post is absolutely correct and what I wish we could expect a from all British citizens. My only beef is the hostility you conveyed. George Peery is right, Sullivan writes for an American audience. Moreover, he is a creature of the Washington beltway culture and his perspective will highlight that in a lot of his writing. Is this a weekness of his in not paying enough attention to his international audience? You bet, but I wouldn’t take it to personally.

    I can certainly sympathize that you are faced with a train coming in your direction that seems damn difficult to stop, so that emotion may be what we should expect. I’m not sure what got S. Weasel so hot and bothered about the flag burning comment. But, he is correct, that government officials at least should be looking out for American interests, that that is there job.

    And going on a point I think I’ve made on these boards before, unfortunately, foreign policy rarely turns on a dime. And few nations are more intentional at keeping that the case than the U.S. It has been an excepted political reality that for long term stability that a consistent and slow moving foreign policy is desirable and that it should be fairly consistent throughout presidential administrations. Each administration brings it’s own people to the table, but the general thrust of the policy changes at a very slow pace. That’s the reality. I’m not making a value judgement but that is the way it is.

    And the reality is that the U.S. has supported European integration for reasons that had everything to do with U.S. interests, but at the time, those interests seem to coincide with those of our Western allies:
    1. Keep Germany pacified
    2. Prevent Soviet expansion
    3. European integration should help NATO cohesion
    4. An integrated Europe likely would keep those democracies in tact
    5. An integrated Europe with Britain holding a leadership position should keep a normalized and mutually beneficial trade relationship.
    6. And specifically, PREVENT ANOTHER GODDAMNED EUROPEAN WAR

    This may not be a complete lists but I think it’s an accurate lists as to why the U.S. supported it. This seemed like the common sense over the last several decades, certainly up through 1991 (or whenever it was that the USSR dissolved).

    Since American foreign policy is run by career diplomats at the U.S. state department and since diplomats see important people talking a lot to each other as a generally good thing, European integration seemed just swell. This has been conventional wisdom.

    Sullivan is catching up to the reality, but he’s not all the way there yet. He still sees the euro as a good thing. But, Sullivan is a light weight on economics and that’s painfully obvious if you read him enough.

    Perhaps Perry doesn’t like Sullivan as a British ex-pat taking such a self-absorbed American view, I don’t know (would say, Richard Perle, making this argument have gotten under your skin?). But, I really don’t think it should be taken personally that he, as a very well know American pundit puts on the American policy goggles to make his point. Afterall, it’s not just bloggers who read him, but it’s people actually inside American politics, not to mention other American policy writers. He’s trying to be persuasive and to make his point have impact on policy. Writing from that perspective, while fairly useless to Brits on the fronts lines, isn’t really out of character or uncalled for from Sullivan’s perspective.

  • “Yet if I thought the United States government was working to keep Britain inside a United States of Europe (just not too far inside) for its own interests and at our expense… then I would be bulk purchasing US flags to burn in demonstrations in central London.”

    Ironically it would be more helpful to the get-out-of-the-EU cause for the US administration to say publicly that it favoured deeper British involvement in the EU. Really push the issue. If people in Britain are going to be suspicious of the US, we may as well use that suspiciousness to our advantage.

    I seem to recall a deliberate hands-off policy toward the pro-democracy movement in Iran by the US administration, figuring that to get involved would be the kiss of death to that movement. The anti-US hostility is only a shadow of what it is in the Middle East here in the UK, but the principle could still be the same.

  • Russ Goble

    Despite the points I made about American foreign policy being what it is in my last post, that doesn’t mean I like it.

    But, you have to understand what would happen politically if Bush was to do the right thing and say “you know, it’s great that we’re expanding freedom in the middle east, but it’d REALLY be great if our damn allies would stop giving their freedoms away.”

    Bush’s foreign policy is already the most radical that we have seen since, hell, FDR? Here’s what he has done:

    1. He pulled out of the Kyoto talks. While this was simply a recognition that it would never be acceptable to Americans, he did so in a manner, that has been put forth by the American and world media as an isolationist action (isn’t funny how someone goes from isolationist to imperialist overnight?)
    2. He told the ICC to take a hike. The reasons were the same as Kyoto, and like Kyoto it really was just a formalization of Clinton policies towards the two treaties, but breaking from what we had come to expect from his predecessor, he actually made both his words and the policy actually match.
    3. We’ve pulled out that U.N. anti-smoking thing.
    4. We walked out of a conference about racism (that Durban shitfest of a conference).
    5. Rumsfeld is pissing off nearly everyone in the military industrial complex because he wants to radically change the military’s structure (this is strictly inside ball, but it has made him lots of enemies inside the beltway)
    6. He’s tried to make foreign aid contigent on government reforms (how dare he withhold food from dictators!)
    7. We told Arafat to stick it
    8. Oh, and we invaded 2 countries, one “pre-emptively”
    9. We thumbed our nose at the U.N. (see #8)
    10. We are talking about pulling out of both South Korea and Germany, and have already pulled out of Saudi Arabia (or at least announced a pull out)

    Now, most of 1-10 has basically set us at odds with most of our traditional allies. If Bush was to come out whole heartedly against both the euro, the EU, and Britain’s relationship with it he will be roasted in the both the domestic and international media.

    In his re-election, he will be painted as a man who has pissed away decades of hard won alliances (granted, he’s going to get this anyway). Would he be right to do so? You bet. But, if he were to do that, you can kiss the G8 & NATO goodbye (yes, I know, that’s not a bad thing), and you would see France & Germany turn into openly hostile regimes, with China & Russian holding more sway in the aftermath than the otherwise would.

    Furthermore, if he was to make American policy such that it dislikes the EU, then the cries that the U.S. meddles in everyone elses business will grow by an order of magnitude I cannot comprehend. Just as you think “what gives the Americans the right to only see the EU as against AMERICAN interests”, you would hear “what gives the Americans the right to say what’s best for the BRITISH.”

    Perry, again, I sympathize with your frustration about the EU. I’ve heard it from my Dutch relatives, but their attitude is one of resignation, which continental Europeans seem to specialize in. Everything this site says about the EU is dead on and sincerely scares the shit out of me, as an American, for the future. But, you have to undestand, for Bush to change decades of policy, policy that was built in peacetime and would be changed in peacetime (at least with relation to Europe) would be a political risk that would cause mutiny at the state department and foreign hostility that just might be enough for Americans to say “this Bush guy fought the wars well, but I don’t really want everyone to hate us.” That’s just the political reality. And, yes, that sucks.

  • Russ Goble

    I’m with Steven Chapman. That is, the more hands off we are, the better. European integration from American policy folks has been seen simply as “as long as they are talking and not shooting, and our 80,000 guys over their aren’t getting shot at, then that’s great.” We, unfortunately, didn’t concern ourselves too much with what the Eurofolks were talking about. If we were to come out against the EU, I think Blair would have to make the choice (that we’ve talked about multiple times here) and he’d probably choose Europe. And anti-EU American policy would likely make the EU even worse than it already is. But, who the hell knows.

  • Steven Chapman’s perspective is rather interesting… sort of political Aikido.

  • The ignorance I encountered in Washington and in high levels of the Republican Party about the EU is staggering. The basic line was: Britain should stay in to keep an eye on the rest of Europe. This is incredibly naive bordering on the moronic because Brussels wants to entirely to do away with the entity known as the UK.

    There are also the gormless tourist contingent who want the UK in the Euro so they don’t have to worry about more than one currency. (Response: there is already a single currency…is called a credit card.) Besides that group of dolts is the “its over there who cares?” brigade of historical incompetents.

    The EU is bad thing for both the UK and the US, anyone who can’t see that is a total fool, a liar or a moron.

    Russ’ point is a valid one however. At least Sullivan is less of a Euro-wennie that he used to be…

    PS: I have also encountered a contingent of Paddy-American/terrorist sympathisers who agree with the policy because they know that the EU is screwing over the UK and they like that prospect. This bunch is losing influence (post-9/11/FARC debacle) in the Republican Party but has not lost it all yet.

  • Sage

    Perry, I for one liked the post. I think a lot of people, in reacting to it, are overlooking the fact that Sully is a British ex-pat. One would think he would regard the land of his birth–and the land of America’s birth–with less cynicism.

  • Johan

    “Perry has tried to show that the ‘realpolitik’ perspective Sullivan adopted in assessing whether Britain’s membership in the EU is a good or bad thing, is short-sighted and narrowly utilitarian at best, and offfensive and counter-productive at worst.”

    Point noted and understood and I agree with what Perry thinks about Sullivans opinion. My question, which has remained the same since my first comment on this issue is: is there any sign or anything indicating that Bush & Friends share the same viewpoint as Sullivan? S. Weasel has given me one answer, but the more the merrier. Perry? Syme? I’m actually genuinely curious…

  • Innocent Abroad

    “Shock, horror – US pundit says US policy should be based on US interests.” No wonder I didn’t notice the article on Google’s news digest.
    As for Sullivan being Brit-born, of course that’s going to make him more Catholic than the Pope.

  • Stupidity Abroad

    “Shock, horror – UK pundit does not like the idea of being thought of as a sacrificial victim to US foreign policy”

    Which bit about someone in the UK disliking some just seeing people, meaning people like him, as a pawn in someone elses Realpolitik surprises you? Duh.

  • I think Russ Goble and Steven Chapman are closest to the mark.

    The thing to keep in mind about Sullivan is that his writing skills often exceed his expertise on particular subjects. This is quite obvious, for example, in economics, as Russ pointed out. In this regard Sullivan is no different from other big-time U.S. columnists, like George Will, or even Victor Davis Hanson, whose brilliance in political or historical analysis is accompanied by fundamental misunderstanding in other areas. Sometimes skill with words is not enough, and even the best of these writers isn’t worth reading on certain subjects. The best that a reader can do is to be aware of the biases and read accordingly.

    And I wouldn’t worry too much about Sullivan’s bad arguments becoming too influential. It hasn’t happened so far, and not for lack of trying on Sullivan’s part.

  • “Why Andrew Sullivan does not thrill me”

    Maybe that’s because you’re straight?

  • Ramesh Ponnuru

    FWIW, the “Americentric utilitarian observation” is not “the entire basis” for my “opposition to The Great European Project”–I’ve written for at least nine years, both in my own name and in unsigned editorials for NR, that said project would be bad for ordinary Europeans: see, e.g., the end of the piece at http://www.nationalreview.com/ponnuru/ponnuru053102.asp. I do, however, think that the Americentric argument is the one to stress when talking about what American policy should be.

  • Fair enough… I probably should not have conflated your views and those of Andrew Sullivan as much as my article does seem to do.