Describing the limited objective of President Bush's first official visit to Europe, Chief of Staff Andrew Card said it was to explode the myth that Bush is a go-it-alone cowboy not quite up to the job. The president achieved that objective and more.
The president stood his ground on "global warming" (he is properly skeptical and wants it studied more). He skewered the Europeans on their own pro-Kyoto Treaty position. Bush referred a reporter's question on the subject to European Union Commission President Romano Prodi. If the EU is so hot on global warming, the reporter wondered, why have none of the EU countries ratified the treaty? Reacting as if he had been tossed a hot potato, which he had, Prodi stammered and was unable to give a cogent answer.
Secretary of State Colin Powell stood firm against opponents of a missile defense system. The sympathetic American media amplified their voices. Powell said, in effect, that if Europe doesn't come to America's point of view, America would build the system anyway.
In a well-crafted and nicely delivered speech at Warsaw University, President Bush said the world must "move beyond Cold War doctrines" and eliminate the labels of East and West. He spoke of democratic values, optimism and the future.
In each of these areas -- global warming, missile defense and the subjects mentioned in his Warsaw University address -- President Bush and his spokesmen followed the example of Ronald Reagan, who, by his principles, showed Europe why his way was best.
In assessing the Bush trip, it's important to consider who opposes his ideas. European "leaders" once characterized Reagan as a cowboy with an itchy trigger finger who might blow up the world. Many in the major American media endorsed that view. They were wrong, as history has proven.
European "leaders" and thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in the '80s in opposition to Reagan's arms buildup and his stated objective to defeat Soviet-style communism, not contain it, as most Europeans wanted. Instead of peace through strength, the political castrati in Europe (British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Pope excepted) argued for peace through weakness. They advocated unilateral disarmament to show the Soviets the West meant them no harm. Instead of tearing down missile sites, as European "leaders" wanted, Reagan called on Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, which is precisely what the citizens of Berlin did in 1990.
Why should the United States follow Europe's lead? The continent has been embroiled in wars of its own making for centuries. In the last century, America twice rescued Europe from Germany and then, after drenching its soil with American blood, rebuilt the continent with American money. Thousands of Americans lie beneath European earth, having forfeited their young lives so that Europeans might live theirs.
Since the beginning of the Cold War, the United States has extended its protective nuclear umbrella over Europe, allowing the continent to spend less on its own defense and more on industry and commerce, making it possible for European workers to compete with American workers, putting some Americans out of jobs.
Much of Europe is socialist and collectivist. The European Union seeks to eliminate what makes its individual nations unique, in an apparent belief that the faade of political "unity" will produce a true union. Bush, like Reagan on his visits, preached the old American and human virtues of vision, hard work, freedom and democracy. Too many in Europe flirt with the old socialism and shun the new opportunities brought by the collapse of communism.
One must look at the worldview of those pushing for more government regulation that would come from an acceptance of global warming as truth and vulnerability as strength. Such people are from the same ideological mold that shaped liberals of previous generations. Their forebears believed man is basically good and can be made better by regulatory government. But the history of the last century proved just the opposite. More people were killed at the hands of their own governments in the 20th century (due chiefly to war and oppression) than in all previous centuries of recorded history combined.
Yet, the modern "leaders" of nations whose predecessors believed -- as many of them still do -- in traveling the road of appeasement, ask us to follow their lead. President Bush is not doing so, nor should he.
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