Thursday, February 24, 2005

Germany - Could Bush be Right?

Yesterday I posted about "Democracy For Me But Not Thee".

I started out by quoting an AP poll that said Europe did not think the US should be spreading democracy around the world. The poll contained this quote:

"Europeans in general especially the European elites tend to be more cynical about the possibilities of exporting democracy," said Mandelbaum, author of the book "Ideas That Conquered the World: Peace, Democracy and Free Markets." "There is a general feeling that democracy just doesn't fit some cultures."

One of the countries polled was Germany. This is what DER SPIEGEL had to say about Bush's visit.

Even German conservatives find the idea that Arabic countries could transform themselves into enlightened democracies somewhat absurd.

Nice, huh? Nobody seems to want to use the R word. But this all sounds like racism to me.

Later in my post I quoted Gerard Baker thusly:

Gerard Baker.

These differences are not just awkward, inconvenient blots on an otherwise pleasant landscape of Atlantic unity. They are great, ugly cleavages in basic perceptions, strategy, and policy. The Bush administration remains committed to revolutionary change throughout the world and, just as the Reagan administration did, believes America's security is inextricably tied up with the advance of liberty well beyond its borders. Europeans, meanwhile, are ever more staunch in their defense of the status quo, however unfree that may leave people. Stability, not liberty, is their aim.

Der Spiegel echoes those thoughts.

This, in fact, is likely the largest point of disagreement between Europe and the United States -- and one that a President John Kerry likely would not have made smaller: Europeans today -- just like the Europeans of 1987 -- cannot imagine that the world might change. Maybe we don't want the world to change, because change can, of course, be dangerous. But in a country of immigrants like the United States, one actually pushes for change. In Mainz today, the stagnant Europeans came face to face with the dynamic Americans. We Europeans always want to have the world from yesterday, whereas the Americans strive for the world of tomorrow.

How do the words to that Fleetwood Mac song go? "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow, yesterdays gone, yesterdays gone". Something like that.

Perhaps AP should do another poll, leave America out of it and ask the question of the same countries, "Do you want the world to stay the same or do you favor spreading democracy, by force if necessary, to people living in tyranny?" I'd bet the answer would be leave the status quo. I've got my freedom - screw the rest - would be the sentiment.

Janet Daley writing in The Telegraph nails it.

This entirely unresearched, academically unsound theory of mine came back to me as I listened to George W Bush telling Europeans that his campaign for liberty and democracy arose directly from ideals that had originated with them. You could almost hear the injured bewilderment in his voice: this was all your idea in the first place. Whatever happened to your commitment to the values enshrined in Magna Carta and the French Revolution - the doctrine of the rights of man and of government by consent? And if you are still committed to those principles, why can you not see the need to extend them to parts of the world that are still deprived of them?

The Der Spiegel article ends with this observation about Reagan, the Berlin wall and Bush's vision.

Yet three years later, East Germany had disappeared from the map. Gorbachev had a lot to do with it, but it was the East Germans who played the larger role. When analysts are confronted by real people, amazing things can happen. And maybe history can repeat itself. Maybe the people of Syria, Iran or Jordan will get the idea in their heads to free themselves from their oppressive regimes just as the East Germans did. When the voter turnout in Iraq recently exceeded that of many Western nations, the chorus of critique from Iraq alarmists was, at least for a couple of days, quieted. Just as quiet as the chorus of Germany experts on the night of Nov. 9, 1989 when the Wall fell.

Just a thought for Old Europe to chew on: Bush might be right, just like Reagan was then.

Bush has demonstrably proved he is right and Europe wrong. When given the opportunity to choose between democracy and tyranny, people the world over choose democracy; Afghanistan and Iraq are proof of that.

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