America as Western Europe

Article excerpt

RARELY DOES ONE PRESIDENTIAL election decide the future of the country. Three in American history come to mind: the elections of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, and Ronald Reagan in 1980. It is not clear if the 2004 version will fall into that category. If one gauged the intensity of feeling, particularly on the left, one could conclude that 2004 certainly is such a watershed.

This intensity on the left, as found in the Michael Moore movie and the street demonstrations against the Republican Convention, is, in some part, about its opposition to the war in Iraq and its abhorrence of George W. Bush. Those on the left, the so-called Democratic base, would have the U.S. repudiate the entire Iraqi project and turn it over to the UN--sooner rather than later. The left may know that an American success in Iraq could set the tone of American politics for decades, a tone they do not welcome.

A successful conclusion to the Iraqi conflict would have a great impact on both American foreign and domestic policy. It would reinforce the idea that the U.S. has the capacity to destroy sources of Islamic fascism and its terrorist networks. It would reaffirm the importance of a domestic society that is tough, disciplined, and willing to sacrifice some comfort and ease for the greater good and safety, of all.

Such a role need not require the kinds of military obligations we incurred during the Cold War nor involve an endless succession of military interventions. It would require a sophisticated and flexible military force; a well-trained, covert activity capability with the wherewithal to penetrate terrorist cells: a border security capacity tighter than ever before; and more stringent immigration laws. It would make the imperative of U.S. policy that none of these nightmarish groups should ever get their hands on weapons of mass destruction.

Such a society would be far too disciplined and Spartan for the left. The liberal/left would prefer to use the risk-averse mode of Western Europe as its model. Many of these nations are welfarist in economic policy, libertarian in social policy, and accommodationist in foreign policy. France and now, sadly, Spain are willing to pacify terrorists, accommodate the likes of Saddam Hussein, and avoid any serious use of military force. Even in the Balkans, where conflict was practically on their borders, the NATO countries, save the U.S. and Britain, had little taste for any military intervention that requited sacrifice and loss.

The policies of the French and German foreign ministries, led by Dominque de Villepin and Joschka Fischer, respectively, show a disturbing likeness to those of Britain and France under Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier at the time of the 1938 Munich Conference. In October, 2003, de Villepin and Fischer flew to Iran to persuade its Mullahs to halt the production of material for nuclear weapons. They returned bragging that they had reached an agreement while claiming a diplomatic coup. Since then, reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicate that Tehran was engaging in a deception, similar to German Chancellor Adolph Hitler at Munich. …