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Jewish World Review August 2, 2001 / 13 Menachem-Av, 5761

Michael Ledeen

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Delirious Dems -- THE Democrats have been failing their civics tests in the most spectacular ways. First we have Tom Daschle - whose international experience can be etched on marble and dropped in your eye with no ill effects - bemoaning the fact that some European leaders are unhappy with W.'s decisions on the Kyoto Treaty, missile defense, and bacteriological weapons. Quite aside from the fact that the decisions were exceptionally good ones, anyone with any real knowledge of contemporary diplomacy knows full well that the Europeans rarely say in public what they actually want: European citizens cut a lot of slack for their leaders in foreign policy, and their leaders gratefully respond by telling the citizens what they are presumed to want to hear. The only tell us in private what they really want us to do, and they expect us to take the heat for it. That's one of the prices of being top dog.

A few years back German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, an unusually outspoken Social Democrat, came to Washington to implore the likes of Kissinger and Haig to "kill the SALT II Treaty," and, when the Americans asked if he would support them in this effort, chuckled and said, "Of course not. But you must do it." If we had passed the treaty, we would have received public accolades from the Europeans, but private frustration. I rather suspect that the Kyoto Treaty is the same story; the Europeans know as well as anyone in Washington that the "science" on global warming is highly suspect, and I doubt they want to burden their groaning economies with yet more fiscal demands. But it's unfashionable to speak the truth on this matter, even though the "greens" are in fairly bad odor nowadays in most European countries, and have even vanished from the party list in Italy. Radical environmentalism isn't a great force over there, either. Surely nobody believes that the government of France - which produces more nuclear-generated electrical power than any other country in the world - is really in favor of shutting down nuclear-power plants in favor of solar panels and windmills. But they will never say this in public.

Daschle simply doesn't know what he's talking about; he's just another in a long list of earnest Americans from the back woods and the Great Plains who assume that "people are people," the world over. No American statesman could get away with the blatant doublespeak the Europeans favor, but no serious student of the world would assume that European leaders really mean what they say. If Daschle were concerned to advance the national interest instead of scoring debating points against our president, he'd learn something about diplomacy.

Then there's the latest in a growing stream of public embarrassments from Abe Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League. There really isn't enough anti-Semitism in America nowadays to justify big fundraising drives and big staffs, and Foxman has been very entrepreneurial about concocting "threats" for the ADL to thwart. His latest effort to attract public attention was a denunciation of the Israeli government for monitoring the reportage of Middle East events, and criticizing news agencies when the Israelis thought the newsies had got it wrong. "Undemocratic," thunders Foxman. Not. It's properly called "doing your job." Are the Israelis - or any other responsible government - supposed to maintain a dignified silence when their leaders are slandered by, say, the BBC? On the contrary, citizens should expect their leaders to expose press bias on every occasion, and to fight for the truth.

I can't help suspecting that Foxman's laughable critique is linked to the Democrats' efforts to slime Otto Reich and John Negroponte, nominated for top diplomatic jobs. Both men were exceedingly effective at advancing President Reagan's Central American policy. Negroponte was American ambassador in Honduras, and Reich ran a tiny public outreach office in State that greatly annoyed the Left, because he was very good at it. He was later a first-class ambassador to Venezuela.

These terrific men are under attack precisely because they performed extraordinarily well under exceedingly difficult circumstances at the great turning point in the second half of the 20th century. The defeat of Communism in Central America was deadly to the messianic vision of the men in the Kremlin, and to their many supporters and fellow travelers around the world, because it demonstrated that history was NOT on their side. The tide of events was running in favor of the democratic revolution, and Otto Reich and John Negroponte were among its most effective advocates.

Unfortunately, the American left has still not forgiven the Reagan administration for destroying the Soviet Empire, and the Senate Leftists are going all-out to make Reich and Negroponte pay for their brave virtue. Having lost the ideological battle, the Left has only one weapon: The politics of personal destruction, and the lame suggestions of the likes of Foxman and Daschle that our leaders should not try to advance our interests, but surrender to the baseless demands of political correctness.

The chief spear-carrier for the senatorial leftists is Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, a man who performed so shamefully in the 1980s that one would expect him to avoid any review of those years. While Reich and Negroponte were fighting our country's enemies, Dodd was out dancing with them. Dodd hit the chic nightclubs with radicals like Bianca Jaggar, and cavorted with Daniel Ortega, the Communist dictator of Nicaragua.

If we had a political class worthy of the name, people like Dodd would be publicly excoriated, and Reich and Negroponte would get medals. But the Democrats, whose leaders either know nothing about the workings of the real world or vengefully persecute those who exposed their folly, turn common sense on its head and demand the rejection of the very people who have proven their ability to lead.

JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Tocqueville on American Character . Comment by clicking here.


07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen