Travels with the Secretary
Secretary of State (SecState) Condeleeza Rice will be traveling over the next week, visiting the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Israel, Italy, France, Belgium and Luxembourg for the first time in her new role. According to the Department of State’s “Travels With the Secretary
” page she will
…promote President Bush's vision of democracy and freedom as the keys to peace and prosperity. She will work to identify a common agenda for 2005 with our European partners and our partners in the Middle East -- an agenda of fighting terrorism, proliferation, disease and poverty, as we support democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. She will coordinate with European partners and institutions to support reform in the broader Middle East and North Africa. She looks forward to working with European allies to advance the Middle East peace process, and she expects to support development of European institutions while in Europe.
Coupled as it is with the State of the Union address this trip offers an excellent opportunity to establish a dialogue and set the stage for our relations with world leaders for the second “W” term. The only problem I can see with this is that a dialogue requires two willing parties, and while in most of the countries SecState will visit this will not be a problem, I do not have high hopes for Germany, France or Italy
At least seven in 10 in France, Germany and Spain said they have an unfavorable view of President Bush. More than half of the French and German people said they have an unfavorable view of Americans in general, and half of Spaniards felt the same thing, the polls found.
In the days following the re-election of President Bush much of the world responded cautiously, but in the major European capitals the disbelief was profound and pronounced. Europeans wondered aloud and in print if Americans were really “that stupid”:
"How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?" the liberal Daily Mirror asked in a Page One headline. Inside, several pages of coverage were headed "U.S. election disaster."
The Independent bore the front-page headline "Four more years" on a black page with grim pictures including a hooded Iraqi prisoner and an orange-clad detainee at Guantanamo Bay.
The left-leaning Guardian led its features section with a black page bearing the tiny words, "Oh, God." Inside a story described how Bush's victory "catapaulted liberal Britain into collective depression."
"Oops they did it again," Germany's left-leaning Tageszeitung newspaper said in a front-page English headline. The cover of the Swiss newsmagazine Facts called Bush's re-election "Europe's Nightmare." "Victory for the hothead: how far will he go?" asked another Swiss weekly, L'Hebdo.
Since the election, there has been little from Europe about the possibilities of the second administration, except for some rumblings about the inauguration speech. A sampling of what the world thought about the inaugural speech:
Die Tageszeitung (Berlin): If you take seriously what Bush said before and during his inaugural address, you will really dread this U.S. government. ...The message of yesterday's big - and many U.S. citizens thought too big - and carefully staged inauguration is clear: The continuity from his first term will remain, but at the same time this U.S. government will have more sense of mission and do whatever it thinks is right and won't have anybody else disturb it. ... The horror is justified.
Le Monde (Paris): We can fear that, in the eyes of Mr. Bush, the criteria for tyranny would essentially be hostility toward the United States and that he would be inclined to close his eyes to the democratic failings of regimes that show cooperativeness. ... Bush 1 changed the foreign policy of the United States. Bush 2 wants to change the American social contract. The outcome of his activism abroad makes us fear similar traumas at home.
La Repubblica (Rome): [Mr. Bush] finally feels at peace with himself, is satisfied with himself and thus is even more disturbing. ... There is the sense of a man who now considers the entire world as his own parish.
Many publications and pundits now view the Iraqi elections as at least partial vindication for the “Bush doctrine”. But how will Europe receive the Secretary? Will the buzz over the elections carryover to the real world of high stakes diplomacy?
Will the Eurozone leaders be able to face the reality of four more years of a Bush administration, and will they have the intellectual honesty to recognize that they bet on the wrong horse on the elections? The world cheered the Iraq elections, but many of the comma-ists, as Diplomad called them, were quick to point out that the elections are not a panacea, and do not translate into stability and national security in Iraq. True enough. But will Europe have the courage of it’s convictions to set aside the issues that lead to the Iraq war and assist in the re-building of the country devastated by the Hussein regime and brutalized by the enemies of freedom and democracy in the months since the fall of that regime? Or is all the praise for the courage of the Iraqi voters so much hot air?
Europe, Canada, and many of the leftists in America are now faced with a few choices: assist in the spread of liberty and democracy around the world, sit on the sidelines and watch, or actively oppose the administration.
I wholeheartedly support the right to another opinion. I only ask that anyone, American or not, who opposes the policies of the administration propose an alternative that does not include abandoning the people of Iraq or the region, and does to involve kowtowing to terrorists in the name of diversity.
To our interlocutors in France, Germany and Italy, Secretary Rice is on her way to see you. We already know what you are against; now is the time to tell us what you are for.