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« "Goon-gate" Strikes College Basketball: The Downfall of John Chaney. | WILLisms.com | Unprecedented Events In Lebanon. »

Euro-Bush: Redux.

WILLisms.com brought you extensive coverage of President Bush's trip to Europe ("A Preview" ; "Part Two" ; "Grading Thus Far" ; "Brings Up China, European Integration" ; "Well, It Was Real, It Was Fun, But Was It Real Fun?"), but WILLisms.com's favorite Canadian writer Mark Steyn has a must-read recap of the adventure.

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Steyn:

"A week ago, the conventional wisdom was that George W. Bush had seen the error of his unilateral cowboy ways and was setting off to Europe to mend fences with America's 'allies.'

I think not. Lester Pearson, the late Canadian prime minister, used to say that diplomacy is the art of letting the other fellow have your way. All week long President Bush offered a hilariously parodic reductio of Pearson's bon mot, wandering from one European Union gabfest to another insisting how much he loves his good buddy Jacques and his good buddy Gerhard and how Europe and America share -- what's the standard formulation? -- 'common values.' Care to pin down an actual specific value or two that we share? Well, you know, 'freedom,' that sort of thing, abstract nouns mostly. Love to list a few more common values, but gotta run.

And at the end what's changed?

Will the United States sign on to Kyoto?

No.

Will the United States join the International Criminal Court?

No.

Will the United States agree to accept whatever deal the Anglo-Franco-German negotiators cook up with Iran?

No.

Even more remarkably, aside from sticking to his guns in the wider world, the president also found time to cast his eye upon Europe's internal affairs. As he told his audience in Brussels, in the first speech of his tour, 'We must reject anti-Semitism in all forms and we must condemn violence such as that seen in the Netherlands.'

The Euro-bigwigs shuffled their feet and stared coldly into their mistresses' decolletage. They knew Bush wasn't talking about anti-Semitism in Nebraska, but about France, where for three years there's been a sustained campaign of synagogue burning and cemetery desecration, and Germany, where the Berlin police advise Jewish residents not to go out in public wearing any identifying marks of their faith.

The 'violence in the Netherlands' is a reference to Theo van Gogh, murdered by a Dutch Islamist for making a film critical of the Muslim treatment of women. Van Gogh's professional colleagues reacted to this assault on freedom of speech by canceling his movie from the Rotterdam Film Festival and scheduling some Islamist propaganda instead."

Steyn then turns his attention to the European Union's proposed Constitution, arguing that it:

"...would be unrecognizable as such to any American. I had the opportunity to talk with former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing on a couple of occasions during his long labors as the self-declared and strictly single Founding Father. He called himself 'Europe's Jefferson,' and I didn't like to quibble that, constitution-wise, Jefferson was Europe's Jefferson -- that's to say, at the time the U.S. Constitution was drawn up, Thomas Jefferson was living in France. Thus, for Giscard to be Europe's Jefferson, he'd have to be in Des Moines, where he'd be doing far less damage.

But, quibbles aside, President Giscard professed to be looking in the right direction. When I met him, he had an amiable riff on how he'd been in Washington and bought one of those compact copies of the U.S. Constitution on sale for a buck or two. Many Americans wander round with the constitution in their pocket so they can whip it out and chastise over-reaching congressmen and senators at a moment's notice. Try going round with the European Constitution in your pocket and you'll be walking with a limp after two hours: It's 511 pages, which is 500 longer than the U.S. version. It's full of stuff about European space policy, Slovakian nuclear plants, water resources, free expression for children, the right to housing assistance, preventive action on the environment, etc.

Most of the so-called constitution isn't in the least bit constitutional. That's to say, it's not content, as the U.S. Constitution is, to define the distribution and limitation of powers. Instead, it reads like a U.S. defense spending bill that's got porked up with a ton of miscellaneous expenditures for the 'mohair subsidy' and other notorious Congressional boondoggles. President Ronald Reagan liked to say, 'We are a nation that has a government -- not the other way around.' If you want to know what it looks like the other way round, read Monsieur Giscard's constitution.

But the fact is it's going to be ratified, and Washington is hardly in a position to prevent it. Plus there's something to be said for the theory that, as the EU constitution is a disaster waiting to happen, you might as well cut down the waiting and let it happen. CIA analysts predict the collapse of the EU within 15 years. I'd say, as predictions of doom go, that's a little on the cautious side.

But either way the notion that it's a superpower in the making is preposterous. Most administration officials subscribe to one of two views: a) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater; or b) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater where the whole powder keg's about to go up."

Steyn then goes one step further, describing Europe's impending demise:

"For what it's worth, I incline to the latter position. Europe's problems -- its unaffordable social programs, its deathbed demographics, its dependence on immigration numbers that no stable nation (not even America in the Ellis Island era) has ever successfully absorbed -- are all of Europe's making. By some projections, the EU's population will be 40 percent Muslim by 2025. Already, more people each week attend Friday prayers at British mosques than Sunday service at Christian churches -- and in a country where Anglican bishops have permanent seats in the national legislature.

Some of us think an Islamic Europe will be easier for America to deal with than the present Europe of cynical, wily, duplicitous pseudo-allies. But getting there is certain to be messy, and violent.

Until the shape of the new Europe begins to emerge, there's no point picking fights with the terminally ill. The old Europe is dying, and Mr. Bush did the diplomatic equivalent of the Oscar night lifetime-achievement tribute at which the current stars salute a once glamorous old-timer whose fading aura is no threat to them. The 21st century is being built elsewhere."

His last line is particularly necessary to understand. India and China, and to a lesser extent, Brazil, are the emerging powers in the world. The United States, meanwhile, unlike Europe, does not have to witness our own decline from the sideline. There is very little reason America can't go on being the world's greatest power for the next century or more if we do the right things, but it will require major education reform, major immigration reform, major tax reform, major legal reform, major medical reform, major pension reform, and a litany of other reforms to keep the U.S. as the most powerful engine of commerce in the world.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 February 2005 11:29 AM

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