Home > Europe, United States > >Will Europe rise to help solve the challenges facing the world now that Obama has been elected?

>Will Europe rise to help solve the challenges facing the world now that Obama has been elected?

>Tom Friedman may well be a devout liberal but at least he has the intellectual honesty to occasionally challenge the orthodox left position and expose some of its associated humbug.

He had a great piece in the NYT last weekend exhorting the world to ‘show me the money’ and put their real money where their rhetoric has been now that ‘their’ man is the president-elect.

European culture has been going down the flusher quicker than a $2 curry for the last 15 years thanks to the unchecked immigration of people who choose not to become absorbed into their new nation’s culture – and why would they when they don’t have to in order to get on with life – but instead transplant whatever culture existed in the villages and towns from whence they came and the ridiculous cult of political correctness that means people aren’t allowed to actually say what they think.

Immigrants, not having to join their host community, or even learn its language, build ghettos from which escape into a better life is made all the more difficult by ancient norms and taboos.

Enabling all of this is a stunning cultural capitulation in which those who most critical of what should be each nation’s proudest historical achievements are lauded for only looking at negatives while dismissing historical positives in the same way that the US Civil War has been redefined as not being about the end of slavery.

Since WW2, Europe has become increasingly pacifistic, which is somewhat understandable given the horrors it fought through, but along with the pacifism has come a reluctance to stand up, militarily, for what is right and to defend those who need defending in the same way that a child will not stand up to a school bully. There are some exceptions, of course, including Great Britain who at least has had the good sense to maintain a hawkish foreign policy.

Europe has been able to get away with appearing to be the ‘good guy’ in resolving difficulties because it always take a conciliatory approach starting with using ‘diplomacy’ to try and talk the bad guys down.

Do you think that Europe’s soft power would have any effect at all if it was not backed by America’s hard power?

Now that Barack Obama is going to be the President of the United States will the Germans start shooting bad guys in Afghanistan rather than let them pass by as reported recently in Der Spiegel?

How many innocent people will now lose their lives because of Germany’s cowardice?

Since September 2006, Italy and Spain, along with Germany, have had a policy of keeping their troops away from the conflict-hit south of Afghanistan, restricting them to non-combat assignments. Italy’s soldiers are deployed mainly in the western province of Herat, or in the capital Kabul.

At least Burlusconi is thinking about allowing the troops to take on more dangerous roles unlike his predecessor, Prodi, who has always been too focused on issues relating to the European Union to worry about those areas of the world that are in real need of Italian support.

So, I was speaking to an Iranian friend about what a mind-bending thing it must be for people in the Middle East to see Americans, seven years after 9/11, electing someone named Barack Hussein Obama as president. America is surely the only nation that could — in the same decade — go to war against a president named Hussein (Saddam of Iraq), threaten to use force against a country whose most revered religious martyr is named Hussein (Iran) and then elect its own president who’s middle-named Hussein.

Is this a great country or what?

Yes, Tom. Yes it is.

Politics always lags culture so while its detractors around the world continued to bray long and loud about America being a racist nation American culture moved quietly past the rest of the world to prove once and for all that it is the least racist nation on earth.

Much has been written about how people all around the world are celebrating the victory of our Hussein — Barack of Illinois, whose first name means “blessing” in Arabic. It is, indeed, a blessing that so many people in so many places see something of themselves reflected in Obama, whether in the color of his skin, the religion of his father, his African heritage, his being raised by a single mother or his childhood of poverty. And that ensures that Obama will probably have a longer than usual honeymoon with the world.

But I wouldn’t exaggerate it. The minute Obama has to exercise U.S. military power somewhere in the world, you can be sure that he will get blowback. For now, though, his biography, demeanor and willingness to at least test a regime like Iran’s with diplomacy makes him more difficult to demonize than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

That’s exactly right. Who among the noisy elites of the world loved Carter or Reagan or GHW Bush or Clinton? None of them. Hopefully, Obama will suffer the same fate, as the adulation of America’s critics is not worth using as a gauge of the quality of America’s policies.

“If you’re a hard-liner in Tehran, a U.S. president who wants to talk to you presents more of a quandary than a U.S. president who wants to confront you,” remarked Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment. “How are you going to implore crowds to chant ‘Death to Barack Hussein Obama’? That sounds more like the chant of the oppressor, not the victim. Obama just doesn’t fit the radical Islamist narrative of a racist, blood-thirsty America, which is bent on oppressing Muslims worldwide. There’s a cognitive dissonance. It’s like Hollywood casting Sidney Poitier to play Charles Manson. It just doesn’t fit.”

That’s a bluddy funny comparison.

But while the world appears poised to give Obama a generous honeymoon, there lurks a much more important question: How long of a honeymoon will Obama give the world?

To all those Europeans, Canadians, Japanese, Russians, Iranians, Chinese, Indians, Africans and Latin Americans who are e-mailing their American friends about their joy at having “America back,” now that Obama is in, I just have one thing to say: “Show me the money!”

That’s it! The pathetic ingrates who have sponged off the American taxpayer that has paid for world stability since WW2 really need to now put their hands in their pockets and start contributing to making the world a better place.

Don’t just show me the love. Don’t just give me the smiles. Your love is fickle and, as I said, it will last about as long as the first Obama airstrike against an Al Qaeda position in Pakistan. No, no, no, show me the money. Show me that you are ready to be Obama stakeholders, not free-riders — stakeholders in what will be expensive and difficult initiatives by the Obama administration to keep the world stable and free at a time when we have fewer resources.

Examples: I understand any foreigner who objected to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the gross mishandling of the postwar. But surely everyone in the world has an interest in helping Obama, who opposed the war, bring it to a decent and stable end, especially now that there is a chance that Iraq could emerge as the first democracy, albeit messy, in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world. Obama was against how this Iraq war started, but he is going to be held responsible for how it ends, so why don’t all our allies now offer whatever they can — money, police, aid workers, troops, diplomatic support — to increase the odds of a decent end in Iraq? Ditto Afghanistan.

The U.N. says it doesn’t want Iran to go nuclear and doesn’t want the U.S. to use force to prevent Iran from going nuclear. I agree. That’s why I want all those people in China, France, Russia, India and Germany who are smiling for Obama to go out and demand that their governments use their tremendous economic leverage with Iran to let the Iranians know that if Tehran continues to move toward a nuclear weapon, in opposition to U.N. resolutions, these countries will impose real economic sanctions. Nothing — and I mean nothing — would more help President-elect Obama to forge a diplomatic deal with Iran than having a threat of biting Chinese, Indian and E.U. economic sanctions in his holster.

President Bush, because he was so easily demonized, made being a free-rider on American power easy for everyone — and Americans paid the price. Obama will not make it so easy.

So to everyone overseas I say: thanks for your applause for our new president. I’m glad you all feel that America “is back.” If you want Obama to succeed, though, don’t just show us the love, show us the money. Show us the troops. Show us the diplomatic effort. Show us the economic partnership. Show us something more than a fresh smile. Because freedom is not free and your excuse for doing less than you could is leaving town in January.

At least Friedman gets the fact that freedom is not free and has been paid for in blood and treasure by previous generations, unlike most Western Europeans who think it’s a birthright.

They should talk to some of their Eastern European brethren and get a real understanding of what it means to have government run every aspect of your life.

In the meantime, as Friedman says, show us the money!

(Nothing Follows)

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Categories: Europe, United States
  1. November 13, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    >Good piece but missing one point. China, Russia and many many other countries are chomping at the bit to help, but help in the diminishing of the West. They WANT America to fail, and will continue to destabilize and undermine America in every way they can. The chants on the streets of the middle east will simply change to, “death to America”. Friedman’s Liberalism is a failing philosophy.

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