Jewish World Review Feb. 15, 2002 / 4 Adar, 5762

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback -- THE fat kid in the band wants to play quarterback. He won't lift weights or run wind sprints, and he shies away from contact. But he thinks he should call the plays.

Our European allies are annoyed that we are not accepting more of the advice they offer so freely, and irritated because we would like for them to contribute something besides advice to the defense of Western civilization. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization exists primarily for the defense of Europe. But it's the United States that does the heavy lifting. We devote roughly twice as much of our gross domestic product to defense as do our NATO allies.

U.S. officials went to an international security conference in Munich at the end of January to ask for European help in the war on terror. But the Europeans were more interested in telling us how appalled they were by President Bush's state of the union address.

"Today we are threatened by a simplism that reduces all the problems of the world to the struggle against terrorism," French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said in a radio interview.

Europeans resent clear-cut talk about good and evil, said a Swiss newspaper.

"This is just not done," said the New Zurich Times.

French President Jacques Chirac wholeheartedly agreed.

"The rhetoric of good and evil is not suitable for the reality of today's world," he said.

Secure behind an American shield for which they express little gratitude, Europeans search for a comfortable middle ground between right and wrong. But in the slave quarters of the planet, there are many who think Bush expressed exactly "the reality of today's world."

"President Bush has spoken to our hearts, which yearn for freedom. He will be remembered as another Abraham Lincoln by the freedom-loving people of Iran," said a caller to the Voice of America's Persian service.

"An overwhelming majority of the people of Iran welcomed President Bush's comments," said Georgetown University Prof. S. Rob Sobhani. "Here was an American president, who had separated the nation of Iran from its oppressive government."

Publicly - because it's dangerous not to - Iranians have been denouncing President Bush, said Borzou Daragahi, reporting from Tehran for the Washington Times.

But, Daragahi reported, "in shared taxis, in a major city park, and in private telephone conversations, Iranians express the hope that U.S. pressure will force changes in a government that is not doing much for its people."

It already seems to be working. Even as they were denouncing the United States, rulers in Iraq and Iran began making gestures of appeasement.

Iran has pledged not to develop nuclear weapons "for any reason," and has announced it will deploy troops along the Afghan border to prevent Al Qaeda terrorists from crossing. Iraq has offered to the United Nations to hold talks on a possible return of weapons inspectors.

Ordinary Iranians and Iraqis are responding to President Bush's "axis of evil" speech in pretty much the same way Natan Sharansky, then in a Siberian prison, responded to President Reagan's speech labeling the Soviet Union an "evil empire."

"Tapping on walls and talking through toilets, prisoners quickly spread the word of Reagan's 'provocation' throughout the prison," Sharansky recalled. "The dissidents were ecstatic. Finally, the leader of the free world has spoke the truth - a truth that burned inside the heart of each and every one of us."

But the elite and effete in Europe have little interest in confronting the truth, if it involves either risk or expense. They don't want to help, and they don't want us to do anything without their consent.

European objections to the war on terror are "pseudo-sophisticated doublespeak," Canada's National Post said in an editorial Feb 4.

"The governments criticizing Mr. Bush are either seeking to protect their ties to 'axis of evil' nations or else dressing up as wise restraint the moral and political cowardice that prompts them to draw a line under the Afghan campaign, rather than dealing seriously with global terrorism where it presents its most dangerous challenge," the newspaper said.

Comment on JWR contributor Jack Kelly's column by clicking here.

02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly