Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Clueless Europeans Ask: Can Bush Be Right?

Der Speigel's (Germany) Claus Christian Malzahn has an epiphany of sorts (or at least a severe case of deja vu) when he writes:

Germany loves to criticize US President George W. Bush's Middle East policies -- just like Germany loved to criticize former President Ronald Reagan. But Reagan, when he demanded that Gorbachev remove the Berlin Wall, turned out to be right. Could history repeat itself?

Actually, the answer isn't as obvious as it might seem. President Ronald Reagan's visit to Berlin in 1987 was, in many respects, very similar to President George W. Bush's visit to Mainz on Wednesday. Like Bush's visit, Reagan's trip was likewise accompanied by unprecedented security precautions. A handpicked crowd cheered Reagan in front of the Brandenburg Gate while large parts of the Berlin subway system were shut down. And the Germany Reagan was traveling in, much like today's Germany, was very skeptical of the American president and his foreign policy. When Reagan stood before the Brandenburg Gate -- and the Berlin Wall -- and demanded that Gorbachev "tear down this Wall," he was lampooned the next day on the editorial pages. He is a dreamer, wrote commentators. Realpolitik looks different.

But history has shown that it wasn't Reagan who was the dreamer as he voiced his demand. Rather, it was German politicians who were lacking in imagination -- a group who in 1987 couldn't imagine that there might be an alternative to a divided Germany. Those who spoke of reunification were labelled as nationalists and the entire German left was completely uninterested in a unified Germany.
This is about the tenth article on this subject that I've seen recently. Not coincidentially, virtually all of them have appeared after the Iraqi elections of January 30. Could it be that liberty is something all people desire, and is a natural right for all? Why is it a surprise to Europeans when Arab people express the same yearning for freedom that Americans gave back to Western Europe in 1945 and Eastern Europe in 1989?

The author almost gets it right. He gives Gorbachev too much credit for the fall of Communism, as all the leftists do. But he realizes that history is on the verge of repeating itself, and it is the dynamic Americans leading the charge and the reactionary Europeans attempting to block us every step of the way.

This, in fact, is likely the largest point of disagreement between Europe and the United States: Europeans today--just like the Europeans of 1987--cannot imagine that the world might change. Maybe we don't want the world to change, because change can, of course, be dangerous. But in a country of immigrants like the United States, one actually pushes for change. In Mainz today, the stagnant Europeans came face to face with the dynamic Americans. We Europeans always want to have the world from yesterday, whereas the Americans strive for the world of tomorrow.
For the Europeans, their nightname scenario--of America being on the right side of history once more--is in the process of becoming reality. And here's something else for you Euroweenies: Our savior act isn't going to happen ever again with your disgraceful attitude. I wouldn't contribute a plugged nickel, euro, dollar, or vote to save your ungrateful butts from the destiny you are goose-stepping towards. Perhaps this time it is the Europeans who need to step back from the abyss, and reach out to America before it is too late.

UPDATE - Here are two recent opinion pieces, one from the Guardian and the other from the International Herald Tribune.

Martin Kettle from the Guardian writes: .
Much of this is summed up in the current transitional fluidity over the politics of Iraq. The war was a reckless, provocative, dangerous, lawless piece of unilateral arrogance. But it has nevertheless brought forth a desirable outcome which would not have been achieved at all, or so quickly, by the means that the critics advocated, right though they were in most respects.
Roger Cohen from the IHT writes:
How many such stories are there? Too many for the Germans and the French to be so comfortable in their conviction that the war was wrong. This war was falsely portrayed, poorly planned, and hurt by hubris. But it was the right war.

Some people in Europe should have the courage to tell that to George W.
Do I sense a pattern here?


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