WASHINGTON — Now, do you agree with me, Mr. President? Old Europe is a lovely place to visit. Yet one would not want to live there for any extended period of time. Any continent so given to long luncheons cannot be a very vigorous place. On holiday the civilized thing to do is to dine apolaustically, to take in the theater and museums. In fact, Old Europe is one grand museum. That is why I am always happy there, but then I visit solely for holiday. When it is time to be productive I head home.
From all the news reports it sounds as though the President had a lovely holiday among our former allies. They even seemed to greet him cordially when he reiterated that liberating Iraq was the right thing to do. They even seem to accept that democracy — of one kind or another — may be established in Iraq. Said the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, “Statements like ‘You can’t export democracy through war’ are no longer fashionable.” Of course, Italy has shown itself to be an ally, so maybe the paper was only talking about Italian fashion.
Yet it does seem there has grown some willingness in Old Europe to accept that we did the right thing in Iraq. But who are “we”? With the noble exception of the Poles, the Italians, and for a while the Spanish, “we” are the English-speaking people. Churchill was right. Lady Thatcher was too. The English-speaking people are the great defenders of freedom. Some smaller nations have sent their contingents to join us in the fight to roll back tyranny in the Middle East and to smack down terrorism; but for the most part it is the English-speaking people once again who answered the call to action.
The useless French, the opportunistic Germans, and the continent’s left-leaning intellectuals still grumble that the invasion of Iraq was a disaster and the aftermath chaos. They are in error, certainly, about the invasion. It was masterful. The aftermath was in part chaotic because the invasion was successful so rapidly and because the country was one vast arsenal with weaponry lying all around. This dangerous condition was a consequence of the European arms merchants enriching themselves by taking advantage of Saddam Hussein’s paranoia and selling him huge stores of armaments despite sanctions against such sales.
Do you recall the 1920s and 1930s when progressive opinion claimed that the great evildoers in the world worked in the armaments industry as “Merchants of Death”? We have not heard remonstrances against “Merchants of Death” from progressives lately, notwithstanding the fact that those who sold to Saddam really were very much like the “Merchants” that roused the alarums of their 1930s ancestors. Then the progressives harangued arms salesmen and ignored the Nazis and Fascists. Now they harangue the United States, the country that at least has disarmed a modern Hitler.
Another condition that vexed the aftermath of war with Iraq has been the refusal of NATO or of Old Europe to send in troops to aid us in pacifying the country and expediting its journey to self-rule. That refusal is no demonstration of principle or prudence by Old Europe but rather a sign of Old Europe’s laziness about meeting its responsibilities. We witnessed the same laziness in the 1930s and for that matter during the Cold War when Old Europe never met its NATO defense commitments. It relied on us to defend its citizens in the Cold War and it relies on us now to defend them in the war against terror, which, contrary to Old Europe’s blah, was furthered nicely by the fall of Saddam.
As I say, I put my trust in the English-speaking people. Why we have shown more vigor in defending liberty I cannot with great confidence say. Possibly it is because so many of the principles of a free society have originated among us. And as for those that have not, they have at least been formalized in such documents as the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence (sorry, my British friends) and the Bill of Rights. Whatever the reason might be, the English-speaking people have acquitted themselves with honor in the liberation of Iraq.
Just this week, while the French, the Germans, and the preposterous Belgians lunched with our debonair President, from Australia comes news that the doughty Aussies are sending 450 troops to Iraq, more than doubling their force there. Said Prime Minister John Howard, a “tilting point” has been arrived at. During his recent re-election campaign he had vowed to send no more troops. Yet now he sees an opening towards peace and stability. He is taking a chance. It makes me want to break into a chorus of “Waltzing Matilda.”
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