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Why Europe Needs — And Wants — Bush to Win

How has President Bush’s leadership benefited Europe?

October 13, 2004

How has President Bush's leadership benefited Europe?

Based on recent public opinion polls, Europe has identified its enemy — and it is the United States of America under President George W. Bush.

Starting with the Kyoto Accords, ending with the Iraq War — and including every single multilateral initiative in between — the United States has been on the wrong side of the popular European discussion.

And today, the single most unifying influence within the European Union is anti-Bushism. In fact, such is the unifying influence of George Bush that he may well go down in history as the father of this thing we call Europe.

It is almost axiomatic that Europeans can't agree on anything. Put a German and a Frenchman together and you'll get three, perhaps as many as five, different opinions. But mention the word Bush and it is all smiles, total agreement — and complete solidarity.

This lesson is not lost on the likes of Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder. The French and German leaders are tireless missionaries in the cause of a unified Europe. They promote their respective countries' interests vigorously, as they should. But they also promote the interests of the unified Europe they lead, without hesitation — and often without scruples.

And at this moment, they recognize that they are winning the biggest geopolitical battle Europe has engaged in since the end of World War II — namely, to break the yoke of American global hegemony.

President George W. Bush is their unwitting accomplice in this endeavor. His staunch unilateralism and macho disregard for Europe's Catholic sensibilities are like mitzvahs to Europe's true leaders.

As America under Bush becomes the bête noire of world politics, Europe moves stealthily to fill the void. Europe provides a warm, earthy and sympathetic shoulder for the world's disenfranchised to cry on.

And the American president drives friend and foe alike into Europe's waiting arms. Just look at recent political developments.

In spite of specious claims on the part of the Bush Administration to the contrary, Libya coming clean on its various WMD programs was a European, not an American, success story. It was Europe that tirelessly promoted détente with Colonel Quadafi over the course of the past five years. It was Europe that negotiated the terms of his surrender. It was Europe that got him to disarm.

And it will be Europe that gets the spoils, the first crack at the oil contracts and the first crack at open trade. Europe continues to politely make its inroads in Libya, formally lifting all remaining sanctions on the African nation.

In Iran, American sanctions remain in place, even as Iran enjoys an open market with Europe. European diplomats work in subtle — many Americans might say slippery — ways to get the Mullahs to hold back progress on their nuclear ambitions.

Europeans are engaging Iran in a polite give-and-take that is sensitive to Iranian sovereignty and the threats posed to it by its nuclear neighbors, Israel and Pakistan. As a consequence, Iran views Europe as a potential partner in a new world order, even as they reject America as an 'evil empire.'

In Israel and the West Bank, where the United States looks the other way as the Sharon government expands settlements, builds walls and backtracks on its commitment to a Palestinian state, Europe wrings its hands, decrying the injustice of it all.

In the process, Europe is perceived by the world's population as principled and morally correct. Similar situations exist throughout the world. In Iraq, where foreign satellite television shows a cruel and uncaring occupation, Europe sends it condolences, moderating public opinion toward the EU throughout the Arab world.

In dealing with North Korea, where America makes demand upon demand to do it America's way — and loses ground every step of the way — Europe presents a reticent and ambiguous posture, disassociating itself with a potentially ugly confrontation. After all, North Korea poses no strategic threat to Europe.

In every country on the face of the earth, where public opinion polls show that anti-Americanism is greater now than ever before because of intransigent unilateralism on the part of the Bush Administration, Europe just moves forward, promoting its values and its trade with tireless efficiency.

Spain is expanding its influence throughout Latin America, while Germany promotes its commercial interests in East and Central Asia and France reestablishes its historic prominence as a diplomatic force throughout the Middle East, Africa and much of the rest of world.

All the while, America blusters, fumes and cites a Baptist morality that is often indecipherable outside America's 'red' states — those that predominantly vote for George W. Bush.

There are better ways to handle Europe, to contend effectively with Europe's inexorable march toward superpower status. Just look at how President Putin handled the Kyoto Accords. Europe required Russian ratification of the Accords for them to go into effect. Like President Bush, President Putin said, "Nyet!" But then he continued to talk and negotiate. Suddenly, President Putin turned around and said "Da!" to Kyoto.

Why? Because in the bargain he won European support for Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization, an important boost to Russia's economy and status in the world of trade. President Bush could have renegotiated certain terms of the agreement to soften them in America's interests.

He could have gotten important concessions in areas unrelated to the environment. And in the process, he could have made the whole thing work to the advantage of the global environment and the United States. But I guess in Texas, they don't think that way.

George W. Bush is doing America a great disservice. Appealing to ugly jingoistic sentiment coming from the far right, he has created a groundswell of global discontent. And things could get much, much worse for the United States.

It was only several months ago that OPEC, recognizing the weakness of the dollar versus the Euro, made a pass at trying to settle oil in the European currency rather than the greenback, which has been the only settlement currency for oil since the end of the Second World War.

This led the United States to sharply rebuke Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries. The Bush Administration got its way on this one.

But the Bush Administration's weak dollar policy also contributed to a sharp rise in the dollar-denominated price of oil, a rise that was largely offset for Europe by the concurrent strength of the euro. Even in losing, the Europeans had beaten George Bush again on the world stage.

A reasonable and rational United States is a great challenge to Europe. And so too is John Kerry. John Kerry will make it more difficult for Europeans to take advantage of America, to abuse its great principles and to get the better of the United States through trade and finance.

Mr. Kerry will moderate America's ugly face and help cast Europe in its true morally ambiguous light. And this will have negative implications for Europe, because through the restoration of American good will and bonhomie, America will fracture Europe's attempt to put on a unified face.

Unlike President Bush, he will show the world that true leadership incorporates both principle and pragmatism.

But perhaps the greatest danger in a second Bush term is that it will transpose anti-American sentiment, which is currently centered on a Bush Administration widely regarded as an aberration, directly onto the American people.

A Bush victory will be regarded as a popular endorsement of U.S. policy over the past four years. Simply, anti-Bushism will morph into true anti-Americanism — and our adversaries and enemies throughout the world, Europe in particular, will gather strength and become even more emboldened.

Some Americans might suggest that honest participation in the family of nations would be pandering to foreign powers. But in fact, it is merely recognition of realities as they exist around the world in 2004.

George W. Bush may tap into American patriotic sentiment to win U.S. public opinion and create an Alamo stand.

But his approach gives aid and comfort to America's only adversary for world political leadership, undermines America's global economic dominance and — at the end of the day — makes life a whole lot tougher for every American.