Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Robust Endorsements

The Associated Press today notes the “robust endorsement from European leaders for his tough approach to nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea.” Tough talk and intimations of touch action to follow from the US towards Iran and North Korea, and the Europeans are on board. That’s of interest.

Europeans have not shown much spine in recent years. We haven’t seen them standing up to brutal dictators, voracious kleptocrats, aspiring terror states, or internal religious militias imposing Sharia law on citizens and non-citizens alike.

Commentators like Christopher Hitchens and Mark Steyn have been warning of the signs of Europe’s imminent cultural and political demise. Yet, there are recent polls that suggest European populations are beginning to develop very negative opinions about (sometimes violent and often demanding) Muslims in their midst. There are suggestions that these same populations are beginning to rethink their infatuation with the Palestinian Authority (or at least when run by Hamas rather than Arafat’s Fatah). And there are increasing indications that the good people of Europe, if not their Governments, are beginning to view radical Islamic terrorism and its adherents as the brutally evil people the Bush Administration has consistently described them to be.

Look, the Europeans -- even the French – have been comparatively rock steady when it comes to Iran seeking to enter nuclear puberty, if they have been somewhat less the worried adult when it comes to North Korea. Still, like the Democrats here in the US, European Leaders continue to watch polls for guidance on how their foreign policy stands will play with their publics. I don’t have any empirical evidence, but merely suggest by way of hypothesis that these “robust endorsements” of our European partners seems a bit 11th hour posturing. And I wouldn’t think there’s much evidence to suggest that they do so to curry favor with the US.

I think the potential palates of their curried attentions are much closer to home. Maybe they’re seeing something of an internal backlash against spineless policies, impotence in the face of direct threats, and even cultural blackmail and social intimidation. All well and good, whether Europe has the time to heal what ails it of all things militant Islamic, remains to be seen.

The political situation in the US, however, is symptomatic of somewhat different forces, where a predilection towards avoiding difficult decisions, and knee-jerk turns toward appeasement generate diverse political responses. What goes around, though, comes around, and it will be fascinating to watch the Democrats as we spin around to the beginning of our National Security dance, this time with Iran and North Korea.

(Funny that we are seeing a heating up of rhetoric and urgency –on both sides of the political divide – over the latter two legs of the supposedly mythic Axis of Evil. You’d think President Bush might have been prognostic of something when he coined the phrase for our most worrisome threats in his 2002 State of the Union Address to the Nation.)

As we walk down this road all over again, and the politics, foreign and domestic, runs its course, I can’t help but wonder.

Will the President’s political opponents say he lied about the threat? Will they say he exaggerated the threat? Will they say he acted unilaterally, without world consensus or support of a meaningful or real coalition?

Will they say they were misled into voting to approve tough action?

UPDATE: “This is the carrot. Take it.”

In its report, the AP quoted European Union (EU) President Wolfgang Schuessel at length, which in itself seems a positive development. We so often hear how isolated and shunned is this President of ours, so out of touch and in conflict with erstwhile allies in Europe.

Yet, here’s Schuessel on the matter of negotiations with Iran:
The summit host, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel — whose country holds the rotating presidency of the 25-nation EU — said it's best for Iran to agree to the proposal as soon as possible. "This is the carrot. Take it," Schuessel said.

On North Korea, Schuessel agreed with Bush that the communist country faces further isolation from the international community if it test fires a long-range missile believed capable of reaching U.S. soil.

"It should make people nervous when non-transparent regimes who have announced they have nuclear warheads, fire missiles," Bush said. "This is not the way you conduct business in the world."

Schuessel said Europe would support the U.S. against North Korea if it test fires the missile.

"If that happens, there will be a strong statement and a strong answer from the international community. And Europe will be part of it. There's no doubt," said Schuessel, who appeared with Bush and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to address reporters.
And this, on Bush and how a majority of Europeans see Bush as the biggest threat to world peace:
"I think it's grotesque to say that America is a threat to the peace in the world compared with North Korea, Iran, a lot of countries," Schuessel said, adding that it was Bush who raised Guantanamo and other thorny issues.

"He came up, and he said, `Look, this is my problem. This is where we are,'" Schuessel said. "And I think we should be fair from the other side of the Atlantic. We should understand what Sept. 11 meant to the American people."

Remember this when Democrats remind us how much the world hates and fears us. Not everyone. And not anyone who can think logically, rather than paint grotesque caricatures of the US and our President.

(Cross-Posted at Milblogs.)

Linked at Mudville Gazette, bRight & Early, Basil's Blog, Cao's Blog, Jo's Cafe

UPDATE #2: This AP story by Jennifer Loven has been rewritten, with a change in lede, change in tone, and elimination of some of the “robust endorsements” made by EU President Schuessel. Now, the President won “solid European support” for our efforts, but there’s more ominous references to the danger of surrendering our values: “democracy, rule of law, individual rights.”

Here’s how the story is framed now:

President Bush won solid European support Wednesday for his handling of escalating nuclear crises with North Korea and Iran but was challenged over the Iraq war, the U.S. prison camp in Cuba and rising anti-American sentiment.

"That's absurd," Bush snapped at a news conference in response to an assertion that the United States was regarded as the biggest threat to global security. "We'll defend ourselves but at the same time we're actively working with our partners to spread peace and democracy.

Unbidden, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel rose with an impassioned defense that seemed even to surprise the president.

"I think it's grotesque to say that America is a threat to the peace in the world compared with North Korea, Iran, a lot of countries," Schuessel said. Europe would not enjoy peace and prosperity if not for U.S. help after World War II, he said.

"We should be fair from the other side of the Atlantic," Schuessel said. "We should understand what September 11th meant to the American people."

But the chancellor also prodded Bush.

"We can only have a victory in the fight against terror if we don't undermine our common values," Schuessel said. "It can never be a victory, a credible victory over terrorists if we give up our values: democracy, rule of law, individual rights."
Subtle, but a distinct change in tone. You can almost imagine the editors at AP laying into Loven: “Kill all that ‘robust endorsement’ crap. What else did he say abut Guantanamo?”

More commentary at Blackfive.

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