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Grading Euro-Bush Thus Far.

Over the weekend, WILLisms.com commented (here and here) on President Bush's European trip, examining a variety of advice from different sources.

So how is the President doing thus far?

First, Brussels, Belgium:

Click on the picture for a full transcript of the speech.

First, a joke at his own expense:

"You know, on this journey to Europe I follow in some large footsteps. More than two centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin arrived on this continent to great acclaim. An observer wrote, "His reputation was more universal than Leibnitz or Newton, Frederick or Voltaire, and his character more beloved and esteemed than any or all of them." The observer went on to say, "There was scarcely a peasant or a citizen who did not consider him as a friend to human kind." I have been hoping for a similar reception -- (laughter) -- but Secretary Rice told me I should be a realist. (Laughter.)"

On Iran, one liberal organization wanted Bush to bring the "carrot of aid to the table." This, as we noted before, would have been a mistake. Instead, Bush declared that, while war is not out of the question, it is not America's goal:

"In Iran, the free world shares a common goal: For the sake of peace, the Iranian regime must end its support for terrorism, and must not develop nuclear weapons. (Applause.) In safeguarding the security of free nations, no option can be taken permanently off the table. Iran, however, is different from Iraq. We're in the early stages of diplomacy. The United States is a member of the IAEA Board of Governors, which has taken the lead on this issue. We're working closely with Britain, France and Germany as they oppose Iran's nuclear ambitions, and as they insist that Tehran comply with international law. The results of this approach now depend largely on Iran. We also look for Iran to finally deliver on promised reform. The time has arrived for the Iranian regime to listen to the Iranian people, and respect their rights, and join in the movement toward liberty that is taking place all around them."

Iran is a unique situation, and unlike Iraq or North Korea, its internal demographics favor the U.S. over the long run. With its gigantic generation of babies born in the late 1970s and early 1980s (at the urging of the Islamic revolution) now coming of age and rejecting theocracy, Iran's younger generation may demand greater liberty (and less hostility to the West) in the coming years.

The President, on Russia, spoke more boldly and publicly than some expected, rather than glossing over the increasingly troubling steps of Putin's government. :

"I also believe that Russia's future lies within the family of Europe and the transatlantic community. America supports WTO membership for Russia, because meeting WTO standards will strengthen the gains of freedom and prosperity in that country. Yet, for Russia to make progress as a European nation, the Russian government must renew a commitment to democracy and the rule of law. We recognize that reform will not happen overnight. We must always remind Russia, however, that our alliance stands for a free press, a vital opposition, the sharing of power, and the rule of law -- and the United States and all European countries should place democratic reform at the heart of their dialogue with Russia. (Applause.)"

The President even commented on climate change, offering America's alternative to Kyoto:

"Our alliance is determined to show good stewardship of the earth -- and that requires addressing the serious, long-term challenge of global climate change. All of us expressed our views on the Kyoto protocol -- and now we must work together on the way forward. Emerging technologies such as hydrogen-powered vehicles, electricity from renewable energy sources, clean coal technology, will encourage economic growth that is environmentally responsible. By researching, by developing, by promoting new technologies across the world, all nations, including the developing countries can advance economically, while slowing the growth in global greenhouse gases and avoid pollutants that undermines public health. All of us can use the power of human ingenuity to improve the environment for generations to come."

The President essentially threw this out there to get the eco-crazy Europeans off his back. Kyoto, President Bush understands, is flawed, because it would slow down growth in developed nations with negative sanctions, while heavily-polluting developing nations such as China would face no restrictions.

The best way to improve the environment is not by slowing down the smartest kids in class so the slower kids can catch up. Rather, the President believes rapid economic growth (the kind Kyoto would clamp down upon) in post-industrial nations like the U.S. can and will lead to newer, cleaner technologies that all nations can use.

This is the American way. Incentives and research dollars, rather than bureaucratic punishments and burdensome regulations, are the way to achive a healthier environment and increasingly better quality of life for all.

On all these issues, the President receives high marks. In his Brussels speech, however, President Bush said nothing of China, so he gets an incomplete on that one.

He gets bonus points, however, and lots of them, for this:

"Our shared commitment to democratic progress is being tested in Lebanon -- a once-thriving country that now suffers under the influence of an oppressive neighbor. Just as the Syrian regime must take stronger action to stop those who support violence and subversion in Iraq, and must end its support for terrorist groups seeking to destroy the hope of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Syria must also end its occupation of Lebanon. (Applause.)

The Lebanese people have the right to be free, and the United States and Europe share an interest in a democratic, independent Lebanon. My nation and France worked to pass Security Council Resolution 1559, which demands that Lebanon's sovereignty be respected, that foreign troops and agents be withdrawn, and that free elections be conducted without foreign interference. In the last several months, the world has seen men and women voting in historic elections, from Kabul to Ramallah to Baghdad -- and without Syrian interference, Lebanon's parliamentary elections in the spring can be another milestone of liberty."

Then, we see this:
"Syria says it will withdraw troops from the Lebanon."

Fantastic beginning. Now let's see the rest.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 February 2005 06:14 AM