Captain America, World Police

America can't be everywhere to defend everyone against all threats.

Business Insider tells us:

On Friday, two US service members were among a group of people who helped stop a potential terror attack on a high-speed Paris-bound train.

US Airman First Class Spencer Stone and Oregon National Guard member Alek Skarlatos were riding on the train when a 26-year-old Moroccan national boarded a Thalys train departing from Amsterdam with an AK-47, an automatic pistol, nine magazines of ammunition, and a box cutter

As Americans, we are used to our country being called upon whenever something bad happens in the world.  Wherever there's a crisis - we'll be there!  Wherever there's a tsunami - we'll be there!  Wherever there's a tyrannical dictator - well, odds are, we'll be there eventually, though not necessarily right away.

It seems to be pushing a point, however, for Europeans to expect Captain America to intervene against individual Muslim terrorists on an intercity train.  This wasn't merely because the Americans happened to be sitting in the front row when the bad guy walked in: news reports have it that the officials and staff of the train barricaded themselves behind locked doors leaving the passengers to their fate.

Fortunately, thanks to American heroes Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, and with timely assistance from brave British grandfather Chris Norman, the good guys won the day.  Isn't this symbolic of how the world has been run for the last few decades - America takes the lead, and the British help as much as they're able?

Where were the French?  It was their train.  How about the people of however many other European nationalities were on board and stayed in their seats?  Actually, there was one who is in the hospital recovering from being shot in the neck.  He'd unsuccessfully tried to disarm the terrorist one traincar up, but credit for trying should go to French-American Mark Magoolian.

What the three Captains America did was utterly un-European, intolerant, judgmental, and politically incorrect - they beat up the Muslim, and continued beating him up until he stopped moving.  Yet it was what the moment required.

At least France is properly showing appreciation: President Hollande met with the heroes and gave them richly deserved medals.  In like fashion, our generals tend to get honored, and our servicemen are usually treated with respect when traveling in allied countries.

Not always, though: how many times have European activists protested against American leaders for "war crimes"?  It is American military power that protects Europe from an expansionist Russia, and American presence all over the world that is helping, with somewhat scattered success, to hold back the thousand-year-long efforts of Islam to conquer that continent.  Most Europeans have no desire to live under mullahs, but except in immediate response to conspicuous acts of valor like in France last week, they'd prefer to complain about the rough methods their defenders necessarily use against their much rougher enemies.

Maybe Captain America isn't the right superhero analogy?  Maybe America, in its role as the world police, is more like Batman.  We're not the hero the world wants, but we certainly are the hero it needs.

Given all the criticism we get, our ruling elites, like Bruce Wayne, are questioning whether it's worthwhile carrying the oppressive weight of superness forever.  That's another factor which makes this coming election so interesting.  Hillary's vote for the Iraq war cost her the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008, but this round, voters seem to like The Donald's resolutely muscular - dare we say, resolutely American -  approach to all policy, whether foreign or domestic.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

There is a genetic trait in those of English decent that was strengthened in the Indian wars of 1740's that is part of every American and that is defensive anger and even beserker rage. It is embedded in our psyche that when the bad guys come, be it Vikings or an Indian war party, the men go forward while the women and children flee. It has preserved our blood lines, and kept that anger alive in us that keeps the enemy at bay and allows our bloodline to survive. The French men flee and figure they will just get another wife somewhere. There are only three nationalities that turn out amazing soldiers/fighters: Americans, British, and Israelis. And they all know what it is to defend family and home.

August 31, 2015 11:57 AM
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