President Clinton's special mission for the First Gentleman
By Greg Strange
In a recent interview with the Guardian, a British paper known for its anti-Americanism, Bill Clinton said that if his wife Hillary wins the U.S. presidency, he would be given the job of repairing America's damaged international reputation. Here's a paragraph taken directly from the article:
"Mr Clinton, 61, reveals that his wife has said she would ask him to ‘go out and immediately restore America's standing, go out and tell people America was open for business and cooperation again' after eight years marked by unilateralist policies that have ‘enrage[d] the world.'"
It's a bit difficult to sort out exactly who said what in that paragraph -- what with the quotation marks within quotation marks, and the brackets -- but the Guardian and the Billary are pretty much on the same page about American conduct under the Bush/Cheney/neocon warmongers. It's all been a disaster for the international consensus crowd, which is to say, the do-nothing crowd. (You have to especially love that spliced together part about "unilateralist policies that have ‘enrage[d] the world.'" What kind of world is "enrage[d]" over the removal of a mass-murdering dictator?)
So, anyway, let the word go forth that when Hillary becomes president, bilateralism and cooperation will again be flowing like milk and honey all over the world. Hallelujah! You can almost hear the spontaneous outburst of whoops of joy that must have echoed throughout the Guardian's newsroom when word got out.
Unfortunately, it almost pains me to be the one to burst the bubble of euphoria inspired by the prospect of the Clintons, both of them, back on the world stage again, making apology tours of various continents and basically prostrating themselves before their more enlightened internationalist betters, but--
But the repair job, if you can even call it that, is already well under way and without Bill Clinton delivering a single lip-biting, penitential speech in a foreign land. Maybe the first gentleman wannabe hasn't been paying attention, but a slew of those countries with whom he wants to repair America's "damaged international reputation" have in recent times been electing more conservative, pro-American leaders than you can shake a stick at. Topping the list, of course, are France and Germany, but other notables are Canada, Sweden and Mexico.
In fact, in an interview with Sky News recently, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that "the great change . . . is taking place" and that "France and Germany and the European Union are also moving more closely with America." That's Gordon Brown, mind you, not Tony Blair, a.k.a. Bush lap dog.
France has certainly undergone the most breathtaking transformation with this year's election of its pro-American French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. You have to wonder if the Clintons caught the speech that Sarkozy recently made before Congress. Rather than sounding like a guy who was all broken up over "unilateralist policies that have ‘enrage[d] the world,'" he sounded like someone who has the deepest respect and affection possible for America, even under BushCo. Here are a few highlights:
"The men and women of my generation heard their parents talk about how in 1917, America saved France at a time when it had reached the final limits of its strength, which it had exhausted in the most absurd and the bloodiest of wars."
"The men and women of my generation heard their parents talk about how in 1944, America returned to free Europe from the horrifying tyranny that threatened to enslave it."
"I want to express the deep, sincere gratitude of the French people. I want to tell you that whenever an American soldier falls somewhere in the world, I think of what the American army did for France. I think of them and I am sad, as one is sad to lose a member of one's family."
"The men and women of my generation remember the Marshall Plan that allowed their fathers to rebuild a devastated Europe. They remember the Cold War, during which America again stood as the bulwark of the Free World against the threat of new tyranny."
"I remember the Berlin crisis and Kennedy who unhesitatingly risked engaging the United States in the most destructive of wars so that Europe could preserve the freedom for which the American people had already sacrificed so much. No one has the right to forget. Forgetting . . . would be tantamount to self-denial."
Are you picking up on Sarkozy's theme here? It's called appreciation for the fact that without America there would be no free and prosperous France, or Europe, but rather tyranny and darkness. And while the word "Iraq" was nowhere mentioned in the speech, one can easily read between the lines that if a number of countries, including France, have had a disagreement with the United States over Iraq, they would be well advised to keep things in perspective, not go overboard in their condemnation and never forget what they owe America.
It's an incredibly refreshing change from Jacque Chirac and his congenital anti-Americanism. Also refreshing has been the change in German leadership from Gerhard Schroeder to Angela Merkel, who has shown herself to be comfortably pro-American. No more Franco-Teutonic alliances set up for the specific purpose of thwarting American power in its global fight against terror regimes.
And all the rest of our traditional alliances with countries like Australia, Canada, Japan and those in Eastern Europe are just fine. (Yes, Australia just voted out its longtime staunchly pro-American prime minister, John Howard, but the newbie, Kevin Rudd, used the occasion of his victory speech to send "greetings" to "our great friend and ally, the United States" and Iraq was in no way a significant issue in the Australian election.)
But Bill Clinton, still apparently clueless about the seismic shift in the attitudes of some of our formerly disgruntled allies, went right on in his Guardian interview with warm and fuzzy reveries of how cooperative the U.S. would be under Hillary's vaunted leadership:
"And . . . people believe -- I think rightly -- that if she were elected she would . . . tell people there may be a few occasions when we have to do something on our own, but our strong preference is going to be to be cooperative."
Clinton's inference, of course, is that all the uncooperativeness in the world since 9/11 has come from a reckless, unilateralist Bush administration bent on a senseless war in Iraq. But the fact is that plenty of countries have been involved in various capacities in the war in Iraq. As for those who have been adamantly opposed to the war, why aren't they considered to be the uncooperative ones, rather than the U.S.?
It's all so marvelously Clintonian, this idea of being "cooperative." It's straight out of the "It takes a village" mentality. But the problem with that is, what if the villagers live in unrealistically utopian, Euro-style nanny states, don't perceive any particular threats to their way of life, and are content to sit back and let apocalyptic Islamic terrorists run roughshod over every part of the globe as long as they still have their free healthcare, 35-hour workweeks and early retirement?
On Planet Hillary, being cooperative may very well mean doing little or nothing about very real existential threats to the American and Western way of life unless every last supercilious Euro-snob is on board with a plan of action, which, of course, will never happen. Even if Iraq turns out to be a total disaster -- though lately there has been undeniable progress and improvement -- I want a president who is still willing to boldly fight evil in the world whether the EU and the UN like it or not. In that regard, Hillary as commander-in-chief is simply unthinkable.
Greg Strange's web site can be found at http://www.greg-strange.com. (c) 2007 Greg Strange.