There is a mystery floating about Europe these days. The Europeans, especially Western Europeans, seem to think they should have a say as to who should be President of the United States. At least that's the implication one draws from recent newspaper articles and TV commentary. Leading this recently awakened desire to direct American political choice are Britain's so-called "independent liberal" publications.
In an editorial in the left-leaning newspaper the Guardian that was also widely distributed over the Internet, its veteran journalist Jonathan Freeland sounded a sharp warning to the American voter. "If Americans reject Obama, they will be sending the clearest possible message to the rest of us [the rest of the world]...that the world's esteem is now unwanted."
The editorial would be of little concern if it didn't echo the strident tones of most of the West European media. The question that comes immediately to mind is what is so valuable in Barack Obama that Americans should care what Europeans and others think?
The answer is less in what "the rest of the world" sees in Obama than what they want for themselves. To begin with, the limited vision Europeans have of the United States is based on a post-World War II perception that America came out of the conflict relatively unscathed. This envy quickly morphed into a perception of the U.S. buried in apparent opulence, urban violence, and, worst of all, imperial ambitions. Mirror imaging of its own historical past became Europe's method of judging the United States.
IT'S NOT HARD to divine the source of the strong support for Barack Obama among Europeans. To begin with, West Europe contains most of the nations with a modern, 17th - 20th century, colonial history. An American president whose father was an African goes far to exculpate the guilt felt by the now fashionably anti-colonialist Europe.
This same Europe does so with no domestic political price to pay for its convenient liberalism that repeatedly has shown itself to be absent in recent years when dealing with its own former colonial immigrants. Europeans certainly have no intention of raising up to their top leadership ranks the son or daughter of a mixed marriage of African, or Middle Eastern, or Asian descent. Hypocrisy rules! A half-Kenyan American president absolves all their lingering colonial sins.
Beyond the obvious racial guilt, Western Europe's strong left and liberal political echelon believes that Obama's repeated references to sitting down and talking with one's opponents is consistent with their own method of international leverage. Except that is exactly what has been going on under both the Clinton and Bush Administrations -- until the time when talking became futile and even counter-productive.
The suggestion that an Obama administration would introduce a new willingness to negotiate rather than launch military strikes is ludicrous. There's nothing new in multi-level, slowly escalating negotiations, if progress is discerned. This is exactly what the United States has been pursuing since the end of the First Gulf War.
Apparently European public opinion has had a memory lapse. Extensive negotiations preceded the initiation of Coalition military ground action in Iraq in 2003. Allied air operations creating a no-fly-zone over north and south Iraq had existed since the end of 1991 to prevent Saddam's continued genocide of his own Shia and Kurdish peoples.
Baghdad had for many years been a principal supporter and sanctuary for international terrorist activity and had attempted the assassination of George H.W. Bush visiting the Gulf after the earlier war. Leaving aside the controversial issue of Saddam's efforts to obtain WMD, at the time of the Coalition's invasion in 2003 there was still unresolved the United Nations inspectors' specific reference to Saddam's unaccounted-for hundreds of liters of anthrax stocks left over from the previous war!
Barack Obama obviously shared the Left's calculated indifference to historical fact or perhaps just missed that portion of his handlers' foreign policy briefs. In any case, it lined up the Democrat candidate exactly where the European "liberal" mentality wanted him.
PERSONAL DISLIKE of George W. Bush is really the strongest factor in the pro-Obama movement in Western Europe. Obviously its members have chosen to ignore the Bush Administration's extremely high reputation for good works in Sub-Saharan Africa. But nothing much can be done at this late date to alter the self-satisfying anti-Bush sentiment internationally.
As an outgrowth of this irrational and highly personalized attack on the soon-to-be former POTUS, Western European sentiment against Bush has transformed itself into rabid support for Obama. This has grown to the point where the implication is made that if the American people do not vote in Barack Obama, "Suddenly Europeans and others will conclude that their dispute is with not only one ruling clique, but Americans themselves." So sayeth Jonathan Freeland.
Apparently Americans are supposed to care about whom the Europeans wish to be president in the U.S. What absurdity! It wasn't true when this nation was in formation, and it's not true now.
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