Jewish World Review Feb. 3, 2002/ 1 Adar I, 5763
The fresh new wind,
The "new Europe" cleared its throat yesterday, and "old
Leaders of eight nations of new
Europe signed an op-ed essay,
published in the Wall Street
Journal and newspapers in Britain
and Europe, praising the resolve of
George W. Bush and the United
States for standing up to Saddam
Hussein, and not so gently chiding
the stale funk and pious
poltroonery of Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder.
"We in Europe have a relationship with the United States
which has stood the test of time," wrote the new Europeans
- Tony Blair of Britain, Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, Jose
Manuel Durao Barroso of Portugal, Silvio Berlusconi of Italy,
Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, Peter Medgyessy of
Hungary, Leszek Miller of Poland and Anders Fogh
Rasmussen of Denmark.
"Thanks in large part to American bravery, generosity and
far-sightedness, Europe was set free from the two forms of
tyranny that devastated our continent in the 20th century:
Nazism and Communism. Thanks, too, to the continued
co-operation between Europe and the United States, we
have managed to guarantee peace and freedom on our
continent. The transatlantic relationship must not become a
casualty of the current Iraqi regime's persistent attempts to
threaten world security."
This remarkable document comes just in time, not just as
a reminder to Americans that Herr Schroeder and M. Chirac
no more speak for "the Europeans" than Barbra Streisand
and Ramsey Clark and their coterie of aging leftist
malcontents and Hollywood coxcombs speak for "the
Americans." It's tempting for Americans to regard the
Germans as the pit bulls of Europe, sleeping only to regain
their strength for another try at devastating the continent, and
the French as the stereotype by which boors and ingrates are
measured. But more important, it's a reminder to Saddam
Hussein that the gluttons and greedheads of France and
Germany speak only to him, that he takes at his own peril the
notion that Franco-German pouting and cowardice is
evidence of fatal weakness in the West.
Within hours of the publication of the manifesto of the new
Europeans - defined not by geography but by the freshness
of their vision of what the future can be - the heads of other
states began to fall into their ranks. The prime minister of
Albania pledged to President Bush his "total and
unconditional support," and the prime minister of Slovakia
called the declaration "the clear, right word at the right time."
Judged against world "powers," even a minipower like
France, Albania and Slovakia are small potatoes.
Nevertheless, something is blowin' in the wind, and it's
blowing George W.'s way.
You could almost feel the French pain. The wonderfully
named Jean-Francois Bureau, the 'crat speaking for the
French defense ministry, predictably described the
declaration of the new Europeans as "more pretense than
substance" and "not worthy of too much attention." M. Chirac
himself was relegated to trying to make a telephone
conversation with President Bashar Assad of Syria sound like
a big deal, boasting that France and Syria would "co-ordinate
at the Security Council." They want the arms inspectors to
"disarm" Saddam, though it is not at all clear how Hans Blix,
armed only with good intentions, is supposed to do that.
"Co-ordinatin' at the Security Council" is nothing like
stompin' at the Savoy, of course, and when George W. and
Tony Blair go for the throat of Saddam Hussein everyone
expects M. Chirac to trail only slightly behind, ready to scoop
up a little of whatever the dogs of war leave behind. Herr
Schroeder will continue to cower in a decrepit corner of old
Europe, which is exactly where the rest of the world wants
him to be. Even the folks at the National Rifle Association
have to be wary of guns for the fatherland.
And even the Arab governments are making reluctant
noises about ridding the world of Saddam's bellicosity. The
head of the Arab League hinted that the league might set
loose its ultimate weapon - a meeting - to talk about it.
No one can imagine that the worthies of the Arab League
would be eager to talk about Saddam if George W. had not
warned Saddam - and the United Nations - that the time
for talk has vanished.
What a difference leadership makes. Miss Laura is getting
tough, too. She canceled a poetry symposium yesterday after
several poets said they intended to turn the White House
symposium into a forum to pour vitriol on America. One poet
warned that he had sent e-mails to poets to arm themselves
with anti-war poesy. "I'm putting in 18-hour days, and I'm 60
and I'm tired," said Poetryman First Class Sam Hamill. "But
it's pretty wonderful." Connecticut's poet laureate, in defiance
of the Geneva Convention against cruel and inhuman warfare,
warned that she intended to show up in a silk scarf adorned
with peace signs.
That giant cackling sound is Saddam, laughing. But not for
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