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Whining from the has-beens
By Charles Bloomer
The mumbling and grumbling we have been hearing from across the Atlantic from some of our European "friends" are actually the frustrated venting of some people who don't like being irrelevant. After all, it isn't pleasant being a has-been inhabiting a continent full of former superpowers.
While there is nearly unconditional support for the war on terrorism among the governments of Europe, certain individuals associated with those governments have felt the necessity to speak their concerns.
The French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine complains that the US policies are "simplistic" and that the US is acting "in its own best interests". Vedrine also calls the US a "hyperpower" that is "reducing all the world's problems to the fight against terrorism". Vedrine would prefer a more "multi-polar" world in which French ethics and culture would play a leading role. Vedrine evidently does not understand that, in the war on terrorism, the US actions in its own best interest are beneficial to France.
Chiming in to support Vedrine's complaints, Charles Josselin, the French minister for overseas cooperation, belittles US foreign policy as "Texas diplomacy". "France," Josselin says, "considers the logic of law and not that of force should govern international relations." Of course, Josselin does not explain how his "logic of law" would have prevented the September 11 attacks on the US.
Not wanting to be outdone by the French, the German Foreign Minister whines that America should not treat its allies as "satellites". Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer complains about being left out, saying, "The international coalition against terror is not the basis to take action against someone...unilaterally." Further, Fischer adds, "An alliance partnership among free democrats can't be reduced to submission. Alliance partners are not satellites."
More of the same came from European Union External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten. Patten thinks that the European policy of "constructive engagement" with Iran and North Korea is more likely to get results than a US policy that labels these countries as "an axis of evil". Showing his preference for mushy-headed foreign policy, Patten related his irritation that the US would choose to eradicate global terrorism rather than address the root causes of terrorism. "[S]mart bombs have their place but smart development assistance seems to me even more significant," stated Patten.
As the United States considers these critiques of our War on Terrorism, we should maintain our perspective. The US is the world's only superpower at the moment. We have been brutally attacked. We have every right to defend ourselves and to do whatever is necessary to prevent future attacks.
We should also consider the source of these criticisms. These critics are generally unrepentant Marxists who are disappointed and frustrated at the failure of the Soviet Union to usher in a communist Utopia. Their hatred of the United States is fueled by jealousy of the success of our free, capitalist lifestyle. They fail to recognize that their liberal policies of "constructive engagement" and socialist economic ideas have done nothing to increase the security of the world or the probability of peace. In typical naïve liberal fashion, they believe that talking to terrorists and the rogue nations that support terrorism is better than military intervention.
The September 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon should have disabused the European skeptics of their naiveté. Their insistence on concepts such as the "logic of law" has not kept Iran, Iraq, or North Korea from their efforts at obtaining weapons of mass destruction or the means to deliver those weapons. In fact, their policy of appeasement has allowed the terrorist threat to flourish and the world to become less stable as psychopathic dictators consolidate and expand their power.
The critics of the US are aggravated and incensed that the United States is the world's only superpower. Even more annoying to them is the realization that they are second-rate players in a uni-polar world. Having been major players during some period in history makes their condition today even more galling. France has not been a superpower since Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo. Germany tried twice in the last century to become a superpower and failed. The British Empire was well on its way to collapse by the end of World War I. The European Union, despite its push for an integrated European army, is not likely to be a world power anytime in the near future. Much of Europe has neglected its own defense in favor of socialist policies that will keep Europe as a secondary player on the world stage for the foreseeable future. Europe is currently unable to defend itself, even less able to contribute much of significance to the defense of the United States or the goal of eliminating global terrorism.
While we should be willing to engage our allies in discussions and to continue our efforts to build an international coalition in our war on terrorism, we should be willing to set aside irrational feelings and ignore unwarranted criticisms. Our national defense, in fact our survival as a country requires that we act in our own best interest, unilaterally if necessary. We should not let others, not even our allies, dictate our national security.
Charles Bloomer is a Senior Writer for Enter Stage Right. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2002 Charles Bloomer
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