by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
June 24, 2001
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- It's been amusing to read how the conservative chattering class has reacted to President Bush's recent trip to Europe.
"Bush's assertion of American freedom of action outraged those - U.S. Democrats, Europeans, Russians - who prefer to see the world's only superpower bound and restrained by treaty constraints, whether bipolar (ABM) or multipolar (Kyoto) in the name of good international citizenship," wrote Charles Krauthammer.
Democrats + Europeans = Russians Communists in Krauthammer's thinking, or at least anti-American pinkos. How retro!
Europeans are "decadent dimwits," according to Don Feder. "If theEuropeans had a continental anthem, it would be a protracted whine. ...Like a pack of brats, they're always sniveling about something the grownups(that's us) are doing, demanding we pay attention to them and mouthing absurdities with absolute certainty."
Such as not wanting their social, economic and environmental systems be trashed by America?
"America is not Europe," wrote Michael Kelly. "America was created as an escape from, and antidote to, Europe." He also decried the "sneering and jingoistic contempt for America and American values." Contempt? For the nation that has more of its citizens behind bars than any other in the industrialized world and still clings to barbarism of capital punishment? The nation that has the highest infant mortality rate and highest number of children living in poverty in the industrialized world? The nation that still doesn't have universal health care for all itscitizens?
Instead, Americans should have contempt for Europe, because, as Cal Thomas pointed out, it "is socialist and collectivist" and too accepting of "the world view of those who are pushing for more government regulation that would come from an acceptance of global warming as truth and vulnerability as strength."
Yes, we should instead believe that global warming is a myth and that bankrupting our treasury to build more weapons we don't need to fight enemies that don't exist is a good idea.
As you can see from this little slice of conservative opinion,President Bush is right to stand up for American exceptionalism and to paylip service to the rest of the world's concerns.
Bush's European trip was all about reassuring words that clashed with non-reassuring policies. Some who only heard the words thought Bush was moderating his positions in the face of global opposition. The realists know better. Bush said the U.S. will work to use science and technology to combat global warming, but will do nothing in the interim - including signing the Kyoto Protocol - that means reducing greenhouse gases.
Bush said the U.S. values allied input into a missile defense system, but he's going to build it anyway, no matter what any European nation says. Bush said he shares Russia's concerns about expanding NATO membership to its Eastern European neighbors, but the U.S. is going to do that too, because our defense contractors need the money that comes with selling arms to NATO's newest members.
Then there was Bush's little talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where Bush said he came away with "a sense of his soul" and the belief that Putin could be trusted. I doubt anyone was shocked when Putin announced a couple of days later that Russia will increase and improve its nuclear arsenal if the U.S. moves forward with Star Wars.
I think the biggest reason why Europe has been all over Bush has not been capital punishment or Kyoto or Star Wars. It is the fact they realize Bush lost the election, used a judicial coup to seize power and is busily plundering the nation and eventually the world to fill the pockets of the fat cats who helped put him in the White House. In their eyes, Bush is illegitimate and has no right to jeopardize the health and safety of the world.
Regardless of the spin that the right-wing cheerleaders are putting out, Bush's foreign policy and dangerous and the rest of the world has caught on. This doesn't mean they're anti-American. They're just anti-Bush.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 20 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books).