Jewish World Review Feb. 3, 2002/ 1 Adar I, 5763

Wesley Pruden

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The fresh new wind,
blowin' George's way | The "new Europe" cleared its throat yesterday, and "old Europe" burped.

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 long.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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