Jewish World Review Nov. 9, 2004/ 25 Mar-Cheshvan 5765
Richard Z. Chesnoff
BOY, DO THEY HATE BUSH HERE!
PARIS It's a good thing Europeans don't vote in American elections. If they did, chances are President Bush would have been trounced.
The 43rd President of the United States may have won a powerful vote of confidence from his countrymen, but an awful lot of sour Europeans - not to mention a significant number of bitter Asians, Africans and Middle Easterners - still consider him an international bad guy.
It's not just the war in Iraq. It is the President's very American sense of decisive, strong leadership; of placing U.S. security (and that of the entire free world) above diplomatic niceties. In Europe's twisted thinking, Bush is nothing more than the epitome of the "Ugly American," the arrogant, gun-toting cowboy many Europeans and other non-Americans love to hate out of their own sense of inferiority, jealousy, bitterness and often downright ignorance of facts and figures.
Whatever the case, no American President in recent history has been so vilified - especially by the Europeans. Even the 60th anniversary of the American-led D-Day invasion was cause for despicable attacks on Bush. One French magazine had the gall to question whether the American President should even come to Normandy for the anniversary celebrations.
Ironically, says pro-American French Parliamentarian Pierre Lellouche, Europeans "convinced themselves that President Bush was some sort of 'temporary disease,' " something that would last one term.
The real irony is that while most Europeans remain convinced that a victory by John Kerry would have rendered major changes in foreign policy and improved relations with America's fair-weather friends overseas, the reality is that little but atmospherics would have changed. Kerry may have cousins in Normandy and even speak French, but does anyone seriously think that Jacques Chirac would have been any more willing to send French troops to help secure Iraqi security with Kerry in the White House than he was during a Bush administration? Or that a President Kerry would have consulted with Germany's Gerhard Schroeder every time he wanted to make a move?
Neither would there have been much difference to the Middle East. Their tactics may strongly differ. But both Bush and Kerry understand that at this moment in history, we can neither walk away from Iraq nor from the war on terror. Moreover, when it comes to the nagging Arab-Israeli conflict, the key problem has been the lack of effective Palestinian leadership.
Ronald Reagan also was globally vilified during his first term, then earned the respect of many nations around the world during his second term. That's what thinking Europeans and others around the world are hoping for now.
The President has already declared his willingness to stretch out his hand to reinvigorate traditional alliances. I applaud that. We cannot simply dismiss the French nor ignore the concerns of people and governments around the world. We must hear what they think and better explain ourselves. But that doesn't mean kowtowing to phony international self-righteousness. Not by any means.
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JWR contributor and veteran journalist
Richard Z. Chesnoff is a senior correspondent at US News
And World Report, a columnist at the NY Daily News and a senior fellow at
the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of
Demoracies. A two-time
winner of the Overseas Press Club Award and a recipient of the National Press
Club Award, he was formerly executive editor of Newsweek International. His latest book, recently updated, is Pack of Thieves: How Hitler & Europe
Plundered the Jews and Committed the Greatest Theft in History. (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR. )
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