How about a European viewpoint POWER_station?
‘kay, lets start at the beginning; the French and British were deeply involved in what eventually became the Vietnam War and the British Empire was still being dismantled at about the same time. During the first 1 1/2 decade of those years (1950s, 60s and 70s) the French also fought a very bloody war in Algeria that rivals Vietnam in creating public trauma and guilt. The French have not found final closure on this issue and the consequences are to this day impacting domestic and foreign policy, as we have seen so clearly in the last weekend’s poll.
The French and British standing armies are still two of the most modern and war capable machineries on earth. They even have nukes I might point out, and Mr. President Chirac sure didn’t try to hide that in the 90s while joyously setting them off on various atolls in the pacific, against heavy protests from amongst others the US. To boot a large segment of the public in both countries puts a lot of pride in their armies. Go to France on the 14th of July and witness the military parade in Paris, it almost puts the old USSR to shame.
Although there is possibly a vague point to be made somewhere here regarding America’s possible role as world police, I do believe that the OP makes a little too much out of European pacifism and slightly exagerates American militarism. The US armed forces are definitely better marketed and shamelessly showed off to the world, which could either be argued as more jingoistic or less hypocrite depending on your mood and inclination. And for the sake of order I think it worthwhile to point out that being one cohesive military organ of a nation of 289 million people it is a far bit larger than its French and British brothers, which obviously makes it rather more obtrusive in the public eye. Maybe we should also mention that they rarely get involved on any major endeavors without each other’s help since about 86 years (well there were those confused years between 1939-42 but that’s academic).