AS THE new year opened with Hamas rockets and Israeli shells exploding over what we used to call the Holy Land, that frightening fireworks display also obliquely illuminated one of the great political developments-and great challenges-of the past generation, the growing gulf between the United States and Western Europe. The two have been closely allied before and may be so again, but the odds against that are lengthening, and recent events only see a culmination of the trends of decades past, as Europe steadily drifted in one direction and America in the other. When seeking friends in the coming century, each may be increasingly tempted to look elsewhere than across the Atlantic.
As usual, Washington offered "unwavering" support to Israel. Meantime, and also as usual, the European Union was cutting an ignominious figure, or figures. In a painfully accurate jibe, Henry Kissinger once said that he would take "Europe" seriously when "Europe" had a number he could call in a crisis. His words were given fresh meaning by the antics of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who failed to notice that France had just relinquished the rotating presidency of the eu to the Czech Republic and set off on his own peace mission to the Levant, to the great confusion of the Czechs and everyone else.