We call the French "cheese-eating surrender monkeys." The Germans, for all their fearsome reputation, haven't thrown a winning war since 1870. It took Italy two wars before it could beat godforsaken Ethiopia. Poland owes its national existence to the kindness of strangers negotiating around a Versailles conference table. The last time the Spanish won a war, they were fighting each other – and so ineptly that the damnable, sad affair was half-fought by foreigners.
But make no mistake: The Europeans are good at killing. Revolutionary France started the first modern revolution in warfare by inventing the mass army of conscription. A Brit, James Puckle, invented the machine gun. Put the two together, and you get the First World War – global war and "total war" being two other European gifts to the world, wrapped into one shiny little conflict.
From tanks to civilian bombing to Hitler's ovens, Europe has given the world more ways to kill more numbers of people than probably any other continent. In fact, Europeans named Lenin and Hitler invented those human abattoirs we call "totalitarian states."
Not that each and every one of those items is a bad thing. Were it not for the tank, Europe might still be fighting on the Western Front, nearly 91 years after the Great War started. Civilian bombing certainly shortened that war's popular 1939 sequel. Despite some local atrocities, it's hard to argue that European colonialism wasn't more civil for western Africa and the Middle East than the local governments they have in those places today. And how did European nations become global empires? In no small measure because of their talents for killing.
Anyway, that's what popped into my head after reading the most recent post here by Will Collier. After reading an article showing that the Netherlands (former owners of Indonesia, one of the world's largest Muslim nations) could be majority-Islamic fairly shortly, Will said:
What happens 20 or 30 years from now, when demographic trends could well result in "minority-majority" (or even outright majority) status for the Islamic cohort in western Europe? If they're faced with the options of dhimmitude or flight, where will the native Europeans flee to?
Why, here, of course.
What Will left out is the third option. If somewhere down the road the worst should come to worst, Europeans could always stay home and fight. And don't think they couldn't.
Problem is, the fight wouldn't be the pretty kind where you see a few bold arrows drawn on the map, confidently slicing through history and the enemy lines. We're not talking Desert Storm here, which you could draw with five arrows and lasted only 96 hours. We're not even talking about the Liberation of France in 1944, which took slightly more arrows and just six weeks. Oh, no.
We'd be talking about city fighting. But not the kind of city fighting you saw in Saving Private Ryan, where the likeable, well-trained and battle-hardened soldiers could call in an air strike just when all seemed lost. Thanks to modern Europe finally putting "ain't gonna study war no more" into nearly full effect, they hardly have any battle-hardened soldiers. They hardly have any soldiers left at all.
The city fighting we'd see in Europe would look like what we saw in Sarajevo ten years ago. You know, ragtag bands of men with no uniforms, stolen weapons, and a desire to kill anybody who looked Muslim (or on the Muslim side, European). Holland and Denmark would fare worst. They're both tiny, both have very high (and increasing) Muslim populations, and neither country has much of a modern military tradition. In this worst-case scenario, the likelihood of ethnic mob rule ala Bosnia seems high.
Want to take the worst-case a little further? Both countries border Germany, which might feel the very legitimate need to march in to restore Ordnung. I think we all know what usually happens once the Germans start goose-stepping through their smaller neighbors.
No, the result wouldn't be World War III (or V?). But Europe could very well become Bosnia on a continental scale, with all the devastation, mass graves, and ethnic cleansing that implies. You can bet, at best, there would be a whole lot of people put at gunpoint onto refugee boats bound for North Africa and the Levant. Assuming, of course, the Europeans win in such a scenario. If not, the poor refugees would speak languages much like our own, and be bound for our own shores – just like Will suggested.
Me, though, I'd put my money on the Europeans winning a war of mass, mechanized murder.
After all, they invented it.