I’m not against gift-giving in international relations. But it would be nice to see some reciprocity. Obama was in a giving mood throughout Europe. While Gordon Brown was trying to make his American DVDs work and the queen was rocking to her new iPod, the rest of Europe was enjoying a more fulsome Obama gift.
Our president came bearing a basketful of mea culpas. With varying degrees of directness or obliqueness, Obama indicted his own people for arrogance, for dismissiveness and derisiveness, for genocide, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantanamo and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world.
And what did he get for this obsessive denigration of his own country? He wanted more NATO combat troops in Afghanistan to match the surge of 17,000 Americans. He was rudely rebuffed.
He wanted more stimulus spending from Europe. He got nothing.
From Russia, he got no help on Iran. From China, he got the blocking of any action on North Korea.
And what did he get for Guantanamo? France, pop. 64 million, will take one prisoner. One! (Sadly, he’ll have to leave his bridge partner behind.) The Austrians said they would take none. As Interior Minister Maria Fekter explained with impeccable Germanic logic, if they’re not dangerous, why not just keep them in America?
When Austria is mocking you, you’re having a bad week.
But, but… wasn’t the election of Barack “Hope-Change” Obama supposed to usher in a new era of international cooperation, leading to the swift righting of all that is wrong in our world? Sorry, my liberal friends, but the world only loves Obama when he joins them in denigrating America.
Obama also speaks of America’s lack of respect for European leadership, which, if true, is for good reason:
“The basic bargain is sound: countries with nuclear weapons will move toward disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them.” — President Barack Obama, Prague, April 6, 2009
As far as nuclear weapons are concerned, the President of the United States wants America to disarm: “Countries with nuclear weapons will move toward disarmament.”
It is hard to imagine a more destructive goal. A nuclear disarmed America would lead to massive and widespread killing, more genocide, and very possibly the nuclear holocaust worldwide nuclear disarmament is meant to prevent.
There is nothing moral, let alone realistic, about this goal.
Here is an analogy. Imagine that the mayor of a large American city announced that it was his goal to have all the citizens of his city disarm — what could be more beautiful than a city with no weapons? This would, of course, ultimately include the police, but with properly signed agreements, vigorously enforced, and violators of the agreement punished, it would remain an ideal to pursue.
One has to assume that most people would regard this idea as, at the very least, useless. There would be no way to ensure that bad people would disarm; and if the police disarmed, only bad people would have weapons.
Anti-Zionism rejects the very notion that Jews are a nation — a collective bonded by a common history — and, accordingly, denies Jews the right to self-determination in their historical birthplace. It seeks the dismantling of the Jewish nation-state: Israel.
Anti-Zionism earns its discriminatory character by denying the Jewish people what it grants to other historically bonded collectives (e.g. French, Spanish, Palestinians), namely, the right to nationhood, self-determination and legitimate coexistence with other indigenous claimants.
Anti-Semitism rejects Jews as equal members of the human race; anti-Zionism rejects Israel as an equal member in the family of nations.
Are Jews a nation? Some philosophers would argue Jews are a nation first and religion second. Indeed, the narrative of Exodus and the vision of the impending journey to the land of Canaan were etched in the minds of the Jewish people before they received the Torah at Mt. Sinai. But, philosophy aside, the unshaken conviction in their eventual repatriation to the birthplace of their history has been the engine behind Jewish endurance and hopes throughout their turbulent journey that started with the Roman expulsion in AD 70.
Israel is a Jewish State. Is that your problem?
Frankly, given a choice, I prefer the skinheads and other brutes who express their anti-Semitism openly. In such places, we know the enemy.
But please spare me the pieties and the righteous indignation of those “good people” protesting throughout Europe against Israel ’s defensive operation in Gaza . True, thousands have taken up banners in support of Israel . At the same time, however, the streets of Europe (and even some in America ) are in an uproar. These are the “humanitarians” – the good, the noble, the refined, who chant “peace.”
Now you’re up and about? Now you speak? Where were you when, throughout the years, thousands of jihadist bombs fell on Israel ? The streets of Europe were empty. There were no pictures in the newspapers of grieving Jewish mothers and fathers. You called it “peace” as long as the Arabs were doing the killing and the Jews were doing the dying. All was well with the world.
Suddenly, as Israel answered back, you found your Cause; and how self-righteous you are in your Cause.
You are the best and the brightest of Europe . You are educated. You attended the finest schools. You care for the birds, the bees, the bears, the trees. You favor free speech and freedom of religion. Strange it is that the one and only place in the Middle East that shares your world-view is Israel , and it is Israel that you slander.
Arab nations have a habit of denying obvious military losses. Saddam Hussein declared victory in the aftermath of the Gulf War. He had been thoroughly defeated, his forces crushed and driven out of Kuwait, and he was forced to accept severe restrictions, sanctions, and conditions in exchange for being left in power — but he had survived, and could still shout his defiance at the world. So, by his standards, he had won. During the Iraq War, the Iraqi Information Minister became a living embodiment of this delusional attitude. The bombastic (and utterly divorced from reality) proclamations became an international joke, as did Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf himself. Who can forget his fierce denials of American troops being anywhere near Baghdad while the press conference attendees could clearly hear the tanks?
“Iraq Is Bush’s Only Foreign-Policy Legacy”
Hardly. There’s no denying that the war in Iraq has defined the presidency of George W. Bush in important ways. But history is unlikely to remember the war as negatively as most assume.
“The Iraq War Has Made America Less Safe”
Prove it. In the two decades leading up to Bush’s presidency, the United States and its allies were struck by a rising number of increasingly ambitious, aggressive, and deadly terrorist attacks. The hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985. The Berlin disco bombing in 1986. The Buenos Aires bombings in 1992 and 1994. The assassination of Kurdish exiles in Berlin in 1992. The World Trade Center bombing in 1993. The Paris subway bombings in 1995. The plots to attack New York monuments and Pacific Ocean jetliners in 1995. The Khobar Towers bombing in 1996. The East Africa embassy bombings in 1998. The USS Cole in 2000. 9/11.
“Bush Has Wrecked America’s Alliances”
Wrong. Yes, the Western alliance system is in trouble. But it was in trouble well before Bush. NATO’s tensions, for instance, were already noticeable during the Balkan crisis in the late 1990s. And remember that President Bush was met with mass protests on his first European trip in the summer of 2001—before either 9/11 or the war in Iraq. Among the issues irking the United States’ allies then was Bush’s decision not to stay the execution of Timothy McVeigh, the terrorist who killed 168 Americans by detonating a truck bomb outside the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995. It would be far more accurate to say that American unilateralism is a symptom of alliance troubles rather than a cause.
“Bush Has Pushed Democracy Over All Else”
False. It’s fair to say the president’s rhetoric on democracy has sometimes soared into the empyrean. Actions, however, have not followed words. In Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, the Bush administration has followed a very traditional American policy that attaches relatively little importance to democracy promotion. The same can be said of Iraq, in fact. The war there was fought for a very traditional balance-of-power reason: to overthrow a hostile and dangerous regime believed to be seeking weapons of mass destruction.
“While Bush Was Distracted, China Surged”
Not exactly. If the U.S. economy continues to grow at its recent average of 3 percent a year, even a booming China will not overtake U.S. GDP for half a century. If China’s growth rate slows, the moment of “catch up” recedes even further into the future. Such a slowdown seems inevitable. China’s financial sector is rickety to the point of collapse, inflation is accelerating, and the country is quickly bumping up against the limits of low-wage manufacturing. Energy and water shortages are rampant. Environmental degradation is escalating into a serious political issue. Political tensions between the central and regional governments are intensifying. And, very soon, China’s aging population will have to leave work and begin tapping into its savings. Even if China somehow escapes the laws of economic gravity, what precisely is an American president to do about it? Try to stunt China’s growth? How? And to what end?
“America Has Never Been More Hated”
Says who? On what basis could one even begin to decide whether such a statement is accurate? Global opinion surveys are inexact, to put it mildly. A survey of international public opinion by the Pew Research Center, for example, suggests that one fifth of the population of Spain changed its view of the United States in the 12 months between the spring of 2005 and the spring of 2006. Any polling expert knows that strongly held views do not shift that rapidly. A number that bobs up and down reflects, at best, a transitory impression, if not statistical noise. Outside the developed world, in poor countries that are predominantly rural and illiterate, such global public-opinion surveys tell us even less.
“The Next President Will Radically Revise Bush’s Policies”
Unlikely. Granted, the next president will feel the need to create an appearance of distance between himself and the unpopular Bush. But that’s hardly new. George H.W. Bush did exactly the same thing when he followed the highly popular Ronald Reagan. No doubt, climate change will assume a higher priority under a President McCain or a President Obama. Guantánamo Bay will, in all likelihood, be closed. The United States will take a more active role in international organizations. And the next president will probably try harder to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
George W. Bush has made plenty of mistakes. Probably the biggest one was thinking that just because he could get along with Democrats in Texas, he could get along with Democrats in Congress. Silly man! Democrats in Texas care about governing Texas. Democrats in Congress care only about gaining political advantage. Slow learner, there, Mr. President!
But part of Bush’s legacy will be this: He learns from his mistakes, but he doesn’t back down when he believes he’s right.
The obvious example is Iraq, and now, when the Democrats are panicking for fear we might be victorious in that campaign, it’s easy to forget how much guts it took for the President not to accede to the Democrats’ demands to withdraw from Iraq, the way his father bowed to their demand that he break his promise and raise taxes.
But we’ve had another example recently: the breakthrough in stem cell technology that allows us to have all the stem cells we need, taken from people’s own bodies so there’ll be no rejection problem — without having to use any dead embryos.
How many years now has Bush been beaten up by so-called “scientists” because he is so heartless and unfeeling and religious that he forces the rest of us to do without vital research just because Christians get all sentimental about embryos.
The truth was never what they claimed. Bush never banned stem cell research. In fact, he was the first president to allow federal funding of stem cell research. Clinton didn’t do it. Nobody had done it. Bush did it.
September 11 was not the first and won’t be the last terrorist assault on our citizens and culture. And the subsequent factionalism and left/right bickering over the proper course to defeat the jihadists — whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, the courts, at the Hague, or the United Nations — did not originate solely after 9/11.
But the day reminded us that for a near-quarter century prior, only luck and the impotence — not the intent — of radical Muslims had prevented the murder of Americans on such a horrific scale. It re-taught to us, as would surely a second or third such attack, that in war there aren’t really good choices. Instead, once the fighting breaks out, only the bad choices either of incurring casualties and expense to prevent greater such losses to our civilization in the future, or (far worse) of inaction in hopes of searching for reason or decency where they are not to be found, remain.
The Passover Seder liturgy contains a pessimistic verse: “In every generation an enemy arises seeking to eradicate the Jewish people.” In the last hundred years, those enemies included the Russian czar, Stalin, Hitler, Gamal Abdul Nasser and more recently, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Reviewing recent publications and utterances by some of the most vocal detractors of Israel and its American supporters, it appears that every generation also sees new critics who arise to assail American support for the Jewish state. Sometimes the criticism is actually anti-Semitic utterances masked by euphemisms (I’m not anti-Semitic, just anti-Zionist). And sometimes the criticism is actually an echo of statements made a generation ago. Indeed, recent anti-Israel essays, claims of ‘Jewish Lobby’ cabals, and accusations that support for Israel runs counter to American national interests are old hat. We’ve heard it before.
NRO’s Andrew C. McCarthy reviews fellow NRO contributor, and Iran scholar, Michael Ledeen’s latest book: The Iranian Time Bomb: The Mullah Zealotsâ€™ Quest for Destruction.
His latest book, The Iranian Time Bomb: The Mullah Zealotsâ€™ Quest for Destruction, is released today. It is required reading for anyone â€” which ought to mean everyone â€” desirous of understanding the existential threat we face and why its beating heart is Tehran. Ledeen â€” incumbent of the American Enterprise Instituteâ€™s Freedom Chair, Reagan administration adviser on national-security matters, long-time National Review Online contributing editor, peerlessly insightful thinker on the ongoing war, and (in the interest of full disclosure) my good friend â€” has painstakingly laid out an indictment in two irrefutable counts: the Iranian regimeâ€™s unremitting determination to supplant the United States and establish a global Islamic hegemony; and the U.S.â€™s unremitting determination to deny (indeed, consciously to avoid knowledge of) reality, notwithstanding the mounting evidence â€¦ and body count.