The changing constellations in democracies
By Bruce Walker
Two years ago, John Kerry was speaking about all the leaders of other democracies who wanted to see him, Kerry, become the next President of the United States. After the pro-American government lost an election in Spain, the Left gleefully spoke of the political fallout of supporting America in its war on terrorism. What President George W. Bush faced was an unusually difficult political constellation in the democracies.
The SDP of Germany, which we now know was virtually infested was Stasi agents (the East German secret police and intelligence organization), had a chancellor who – surprise! – was anti-American (when, except for Helmut Schmidt, has the leader of the SDP not been anti-American?)
Canada had a particularly obnoxious leader of the Liberal Party, who – surprise! – was anti-American (those of us who remember the aid and comfort that Pierre Trudeau gave to the communists as Prime Minister of Canada during the Vietnam War are not all that terribly surprised.)
France had a president whose contempt for America was almost a visceral hatred, not because of anything that America had done to him or his country, but because America was the only superpower, something that his pride could not abide. Only Tony Blair, ironically a Leftist, seemed to really stand with us.
Things were bound to change and they have. The recent visit of the new Chancellor of Germany, Christian Democrat Angela Merkel, who is much friendlier than her Social Democrat predecessor Gerhard Schroeder, shows how much this will help President Bush. Merkel's authority might appear weak, because her party lacks a working majority in the Bundestag, but Christian Democrats have been winning landslides for the last three years in state elections which gives them enormous clout in the Bundestrat, the upper chamber of the German national legislature, and has allows them to elect last year to elect a pro-American Christian Democrat President of Germany. Merkel will not send troops to Iraq, but she will clearly move toward friendlier and most conspicuously friendly relations with America. Everything in our relations with Germany will improve, and that sends ripples throughout Europe.
Our friends in Britain and in Australia won reelection, and with a recent general election victory behind them, there is little reason to doubt that having stood with us in the bad times, that they will stand with us in the good times as well.
Chirac is perhaps even more unpopular in France than President Bush, and it is hardly unthinkable that he may be forced, by popular pressure and not by constitutional imperative, to resign, much like President Georges Pompidou did in 1968 after student riots. If that happens, it is impossible to have a less sympathetic President of France and possible, perhaps probable, that French interior minister Nicolas Sarkosky may win, a popular politician who likes America.
Very soon too the government of our neighbor to the north will likely have a much friendlier government. Polls today show all the momentum in a complex multi-party election with some competitive ridings in play with the Conservative Party. The current Liberal Party, whose bland successor to Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, seeks unable to think much beyond accusing Conservative Leader Harper of being a member of the Republican Party of the United States, has been opening up a lead of thirteen percentage points in some polls in the general election of January 23rd.
If that lead holds, Steven Harper will not only be the next Prime Minister of Canada, but his Conservative Party could easily win an absolute majority in Parliament – the current Liberal Party has had to rule by coalition with other parties. Canada, despite our bickering recently, is a natural ally of America and a major exporter of oil. Canada is also a key nation in controlling the movement of terrorists across the longest undefended border in the world.
Neither Germany nor Canada is about to take the upfront role that, say, Britain and Australia have with us in fighting the present and real threat to civilization, but the defeat of blatant political enemies of President Bush and the replacement of them by quietly sympathetic friends is a huge win. Picture this the leaders of Japan, Germany, America, Britain, Australia, Canada, Italy and, perhaps, France meeting at Camp David and issuing a common declaration of principles and agreement in the war on terrorism. Consider the domestic political impact in America of a group of smiling leaders signing a broad accord on how to proceed. Consider how this would affect our enemies abroad. Shhhh! The Good Guys keep winning.
Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.
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