The American solider and the Global Citizen of Europe (audio)

It was the summer of 2000, the beginning of a new millennium. I was traveling through the beautiful valleys of Switzerland. No, that trip did not represent my introduction to Davo’s globalist philosophy but merely an encounter with the beauty of the largest and tallest European mountains, the Alps. As I took the train from Zurich to Lugano, I could admire the perfect scenery of a country still outside the European Union. As I had left a dirty city from the former Soviet bloc, my heart was filled with awe and joy whenever I saw the Ticino region’s green pastures and bright sky. I felt like a blood clot in the very heart of civilized Europe.

Suddenly, an Italian student with that characteristic taste for chatter approached me: “Ciao, di dove sei lei?” My knowledge of Pavarotti’s language was slim, so I answered briefly to encourage the conversation: “Dalla Romania, un paese ex comunista.” I kind of blew it, as my fellow traveler considered himself a devout disciple of Antonio Gramsci.

In other words, he was an internationalist (calling himself “a global citizen”), who believed in a world without borders, without nation-states, and any individual commitment to one political community over all the others. As I was listening to this student of Marxist philosophy, I quickly noted that he hated the United States of America for being the “world policeman.”

I kept quiet, thus disguising behind a polite smile my fundamental convictions. Firing off a charge of epithets, comrade Giovanni (that was his name) couldn’t stop himself from assigning the Yankees every imaginable sin, from being “stupid” or “greedy” to being “a colonialist power.” The train had an open coach, and other people could listen to Giovanni’s rigmarole. His anti-American diatribe triggered an odd, unexpected situation. Suddenly, the shadow of a built-up soldier laid upon the frozen face of the Swiss Italian man. The guy wore a short haircut and had strong arms and scary eyes. He resembled a Navy Seals officer in the uniform, with the US flag on his chest. The guy firmly touched Giovanni on his shoulder, saying the following words: “Listen up, young man, I’m an American citizen. Stop slandering my country. Shut up, or I’ll smash your goddamn’ face!” There followed a long silence…

The train arrived in Lugano in a few minutes, and I had to say goodbye to that memorable experience. Revisited after twenty years, this scene metonymically illustrates the difference between an American patriot (who fought for a cause) and a European snowflake (who just complained and saw himself as a victim).

The moral clarity of the US soldier was far superior in judgment (hardened by intense battles) to the brains of Giovanni (fed by John Lennon’s song “Imagine”). We don’t know if today that Navy Seals officer is still alive and well as a brave veteran or whether he’s lying somewhere in the Arlington Cemetery. The story I’ve told you is a story about national mentalities.

On the one hand, the American soldier struck me as an eloquent descendant of the great Republican patriots. On the other hand, the Italian student had nothing in common with his ancestors. He embraced a narrow understaning of political life, being ready to accept that China could replace America at anytime.

Why do I say that the Yankee soldier looked like an heir of the ancient Romans? Because his behavior betrayed a sense of belonging. Unsurprisingly, by the late 18th century, the Founding Fathers were avid readers of Tacitus and Plutarch, Cicero and Virgil, and Livy and Polybius. They believed that “historia magistra vitae est”. In the powerful words of Patrick Henry, “There is no way of judging the future but by the past.” That first US soldier, whom I had met when I was 22 years old, was the embodiment of “American exceptionalism,” the same way a BMW personifies the virtues of German mechanics.

For an American soldier, it’s America first. The allies come second.

Many historians have already argued that America, not Europe, resembles the political project of the Roman Republic (509–49 BC). It is not just the military hegemony or the passion for sports that makes the analogy between the two superpowers very compelling, but the fact that both cultures take the notion of oath, honor, and loyalty seriously. One of the soldiers’ first duties is to defend their family and country through words and actions. They pledge allegiance to the American flag, which they consider unique in humankind’s history.

Of course, the flag is more than a piece of textile, just like the national anthem is more than just a well-known song. For any civil religion, ancient or modern, they are sacred objects, never to be desecrated.

They are powerful symbols of national identity and cultural identity. The Americans proudly display their star-spangled banner, with an apparent reference to the greatness of Providence, which brought this remarkable nation into existence.

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Prietenii mă văd ca pe un scriitor, educator și om politic. Dușmanii ar prefera să nu mă vadă deloc. În fiecare zi, merită să luptăm pentru o Românie deșteaptă, adică trează spiritual, sănătoasă trupește, prosperă economic, puternică militar și întinerită demografic. În marele concert al națiunilor europeană, vocea noastră are un timbru aparte.

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