Thursday, February 24, 2005

International Politics of the USA and Old Europe

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit refers to Austin Bay's February 22, 1005 article "The Second VE Day" at the Strategy Page website, where Bay writes as follows concerning US and European relations in the wake of US President Bush's current visit to Europe and his now clearly visible successes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine (with Syria, Iran and North Korea on the agenda ?):

"Chalk it up as a second VE Day (Victory in Europe), and credit President George W. Bush for following Sir Winston Churchill's wise counsel: "In Victory: Magnanimity."

Bush's low-key shellacking of France's crook in chief, Jacques Chirac, signals the political defeat of "Old Europe" on the issue of Iraq....

Chirac's Old Europe faced European opponents, beginning with Tony Blair's Great Britain. Poland and Italy sent significant troop contingents in Iraq and provided crucial political support. The Poles understood the stakes. When I attended an August 2004 planning session at the Polish headquarters in Babylon, one senior Polish officer told me: "Poland appreciates freedom. That's why we are here." ...

The Dutch and Danes added battalion-sized contingents. In a late evening chat session in Baghdad, a Danish officer told me, "We have few military forces (to start with), but we're here." Why? America is addressing the central strategic issue: the need for a democratic political reformation in the Middle East. Extending democracy ultimately protects Denmark....

On Tuesday, all NATO members agreed to "assist in training Iraqi security forces, to hasten the day when they can take full responsibility for the stability of the country and the security of its citizens."

While training assistance certainly serves as a political fig-leaf, it's an absolutely vital task, as is economic development.

That's where France and Germany can still contribute. With Churchillian grace, Bush acknowledged that: "Today, America and Europe face a moment of consequence and opportunity. ... We can once again set history on a hopeful course -- away from poverty and despair, and toward development and the dignity of self-rule; away from resentment and violence, and toward justice and the peaceful settlement of differences. Seizing this moment requires idealism: We must see in every person the right and the capacity to live in freedom."

For democracies that shirked the showdown in Iraq, Bush's remarks are gentle acid, but it's medicine Old Europe knows it has to swallow."

At his blog, Austin Bay in "Mark Steyn’s Funny But He’s Wrong: Chirac’s Western Front Folds" writes in criticism of Mark Steyn's pessimistic assessment of American and European relations:

I love Mark Steyn’s work.
His latest column compares American-European relations to a pair of old and finished lovers warily chatting over latte.
Great writing –absolutely brilliant writing– BUT, wrong conclusion, unless you’re like the French and you think “Europe” is another word for “France.”
I know, “Mark Steyn, he ain’t no French.“

The Iraqi election smacked Monsiuer Chirac and Herr Schroeder. The Chirac-Schroeder axis smells defeat and their “western front against America” is folding. The Iraqi people’s Jan 30 electoral show of force sealed Chirac’s defeat. Even in the benighted Bastilles of Paris and Berlin, those ink-stained indicators of democracy in the line of fire – purple fingers – point the way to the future.Besides, Chirac and Schroeder’s “Greater Europe” is simply too divided, as I point out in my column this week. (Thanks to StrategyPage.)"

What much of Europe, especially the mainstream European media, fails to see is the changing Arab world, as outlined in an article by David Ignatius in the Washington Post in "Beirut's Berlin Wall" where he writes about meeting Walid Jumblatt:

"Walid Jumblatt, the patriarch of the Druze Muslim community [in Lebanon] and, until recently, a man who accommodated Syria's occupation. But something snapped for Jumblatt last year, when the Syrians overruled the Lebanese constitution and forced the reelection of their front man in Lebanon, President Emile Lahoud. The old slogans about Arab nationalism turned to ashes in Jumblatt's mouth, and he and Hariri openly began to defy Damascus."

Jumblatt states:

It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

The USA is not only winning its conflicts due to its politics of strength against terrorism, but it is also gaining supporters among moderates in the Arabic world, and it is time for once in their history that Europe finally learn to get on the WINNING side in their politics.

But as Glenn Reynolds writes: "Sigh. I would hope for more maturity from Europe, but there's not a lot of history in support of such hopes."

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