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Looking For Allies: Magnet and Wedge in Western Civilization

Recorded on October 22, 2002

The Heritage Foundation's van Andel center

Why do we find that we cannot rely on the countries of the European Continent as automatic, unconditional partners in our present war against terrorism?

The reality is that Western Civilization has a cultural, and a political dimension. The cultural aspect acts like a magnet. We read the same books, listen to the same music, admire the same paintings and sculptures. But the legal, political, and economic structure of the United States was established applying the ideas and achievements of a single source - Great Britain. In that sense, the divider is not the Atlantic Ocean, but the English Channel. And the primary opponent in matters legal, political and economic has been the European Continent. The only natural and wholly dependable ally of the United States in both world wars has been the United Kingdom and the same is true today.

The dangerous years ahead demand that we come to grips with this very difficult proposition, further complicated by French influence in the American Founding, and French alliance in the great wars. A broad and comprehensive analysis is now required to bring us to the point where we understand and accept that the wedge in Western Civilization is as real as the magnet and, when the chips are down, the wedge traditionally proves stronger than the magnet.