While the continuous drumbeat of sour relations with our European partners continues, Europe has moved away from the strongly anti-American leaders Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder and moved to highly Pro-American leaders Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy.
Yet there is little mention of this major shift in the mainstream American media and the Democratic Party. Is it possible that the approaches of Chirac and Schroeder were destined to fail because they were out of touch with the people they represented? Could it be that the approaches necessary to face the serious threats against all freedom-loving people were not those of the old leadership? Is it possible that those leaders were attempting to marginalize American power at their own peril?
Could it be that decisive leadership in the face of tremendous odds is what is called for and not the consensus position as proposed by John Kerry? Is it possible that the Bush doctrine of pre-emption against terrorism may be coming into vogue? Is it possible that freedom is a precious privilege worthy of the honor and respect owed to those who sacrificed and died to provide this for generations? Finally, is it possible that Americans could learn from a lone Frenchman the real value of freedom and democracy that we take for granted?
Consider the underreported speech that French President Nicolas Sarkozy recently made to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. Here are a few excerpts:
"Here, both the humblest and most illustrious citizens know that nothing is owed to them and that everything has to be earned. This is what constitutes the moral value of America. America did not teach men the idea of freedom; she taught them how to practice it. And she fought for this freedom whenever she felt it to be threatened somewhere in the world."
In referring to the cemeteries in Normandy and Provence:
"To those 20-year-olds who gave us everything, to the families of those who never returned, to the children who mourned fathers they barely got a chance to know, I want to express France's eternal gratitude."
"On behalf of my generation, which did not experience war but knows how much it owes to their courage and sacrifice; on behalf of our children, who must never forget ... I want to express the deep, sincere gratitude of the French people. I want to tell you that when an American soldier falls somewhere in the world, I think of what the American army did for France. I think of them and am sad, as one is sad to lose a member of the family."
"Together we must fight against terrorism. ... Let me tell you solemnly today, France will remain engaged in Afghanistan as long as it takes, because what is at stake in that country is the future of our values and that of the Atlantic Alliance. ... For me, failure is not an option. Terrorism will not win because democracies are not weak, because we are not afraid of this barbarism. America can count on France."
"The prospect of an Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable. ... No one must doubt our determination."
"Those who have not forgotten that it was the United States that, at the end of the Second World War, raised hopes for a new world order are asking America to take the lead in the necessary reforms of the U.N., the IMF, the World bank and the G8."
"Long live the United States of America! Vive la France."
Most striking is the lack of response in America to the speech itself. His words and the movement in Europe indicate a growing recognition in the world to the greatness of the United States. They also highlight the requirement for strong and assertive leadership from the United States in NATO. It is quite ironic that it takes a Frenchman's speech to Congress to offer us a glimpse into our heritage and the vital role we, as a nation, are required to play in securing the freedom and democracy that our forefathers fought to attain. The certainty expressed in this speech contrasts sharply with those who currently run the institution to which this address was directed. An emphasis on the self-reliance and the reward of individual merit is sadly lacking in today's thinking, whereas that emphasis is what fostered this country to become a nation without equal. The requirement of bold leadership is again a sharp contrast to the approach of consensus building and false diplomacy expressed by the former and current Democratic candidates for president. The willingness to fight and even die for causes that transcend personal interests contrast significantly with those that seek cautious co-existence with murderous regimes, hate filled dogmas and the evil of terrorism that turns human beings into weapons against other innocent human beings.
The American Dream
Nicolas Sarkozy recognizes this now dormant quality of the American people. We too, if we look at the freedom and lifestyle we currently enjoy, know that this has been made possible by holding to truths that were self evident to our ancestors who fought and died for them. Somehow, with Sarkozy, Merkel and those Americans who continue to value the ideal of the American dream, the vast majority of the American people will once again appreciate the destiny we are called to fulfill.
The problems we face are many and serious. We have earned the moral authority to lead and we now have partners who seem willing to place human interest above national interest. I too have visited the cemeteries in Normandy. And, like Sarkozy, I came to understand that these were young American boys of every race and creed bravely sacrificing their lives on distant shores for the good of humanity. If, when first facing the challenge posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq, we had European partners who recognized the importance of American leadership, the value of long-standing alliance and understood strength of the American character, as Sarkozy understands, the outcome would certainly have been decided more quickly and more favorably than is currently being realized.
This weekly column features opposing views from readers. These opinions are contrary to those expressed on this page or which otherwise take issue with something that appears in The Herald. All commentaries submitted become the property of The Herald and may be republished in any format.