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Europe for Bush? You bet

Daniel Elton

Who does Europe want for U.S. president? No brainer, right? It’s got to be urbane and worldly John Kerry over folksy simpleton George W. Bush. Elite European leaders can get a grip on Kerry, who listens to opera, whilst Bush actually dares to talk about religion, and good and evil. European leaders consider themselves far too sophisticated for anything as old fashioned as God.George Walker Bush single-handedly managed to turn around decades of declining political activism in Europe last year. Millions and millions poured out onto the streets Feb. 15, 2003, to demonstrate against the Iraq war. You might think that Michael Moore has personal venom for the commander in chief that goes beyond mere political differences. But he’s Dubya’s buddy compared to some of the Bush-whackers out on that march. Politicians are expected to do what politicians do best, fall in behind public opinion and back the A-B-B option – Anyone But Bush.The problem is that European premiers – especially the big beasts Blair, Berlusconi, Chirac and Schroeder – have too much to lose from a Kerry presidency. The most obvious of these to explain of these is the man who pledged that he would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the American people after 9/11. It was almost unimaginable only three years ago that Blair would be desperate for a Bush victory. When asked at a press conference at Crawford what the London lawyer had in common with Bush, the president replied, “We both use Colgate.” After all, the prime minister is the leader of a party whose official anthem is still The Red Flag – the kind of red flag that hides under the bed. But this British Labor leader has his political career hanging on an American Republican victory. This is even more amazing afterThe political romance of the 1990s. Not the sordid goings on between an intern and her employer, but the decade-long love between Clinton and Blair. It is hard to put into words how close these two men were as they borrowed each other’s policies and even each other’s names (Clinton’s “New Democrats” were eerily echoed by Blair’s “New Labor”). But in politics, hell hath no fury like a lover scorned. Many senior Democrats were appalled when, with the mourning of the Clinton presidency barely over, Blair hopped into bed with the new political playmate in the White House. If there is one thing a British prime minster needs in foreign affairs, it’s a close relationship with the American president. A Kerry victory in November would give too much ammunition to Blair’s enemies in the party who want to see the back of him.What about that arch Bush-baiter in chief, Jacques Chirac, curled up at home in the Elysee Palace in Paris? De Gaulle’s dream of France going head to head with the United States of America might be dead. But the French have now pinned their hopes on a United States of Europe. For better or for worse, no one is a better poster boy for European integration than the American incumbent. The doctrine of pre-emptive action makes many Europeans nervous, and “European consciousness” soared during the war. In fact, a group of intellectuals took out a full page ad in newspapers across the continent claiming that Europe was born on the streets of Feb. 15, 2003. The French master plan to overthrow what they call the hyperpower is for the euro to replace dollar as the world currency. That means persuading oil-rich countries, such as Iran and Venezuela, to switch reserve currencies. A man who’s great talking at a NASCAR race in Houston or a rodeo in Oklahoma, but maybe not so hot in communicating with the ayatollahs of Tehran or the barrios of Caracas, plays right into French hands.Berlusconi of Italy and Schroeder of Germany have similar tales to tell. Berlusconi is a pariah in Europe, as he cuts deals with “reformed” fascists in his coalition and virtually runs all the TV networks in his country. Bush is one of the few friends he has on the international stage. Meanwhile, Schroeder owes his political life to the liberator of Iraq, whom he painted as the Butcher of Baghdad as Germans went to the polls. The reality is that if the U.S. and the U.K. had not invaded Iraq last year, Schroeder would not have won his knife-edge election in 2003.Rumsfeld is right when he says that there is a new Europe-old Europe divide on the continent, or at least an east-west one. The Eastern Europeans know that when it comes down to the crunch, only Uncle Sam can tame the Russian Bear or even give it a thwack if need be. The Germans still have “issues” about their military, and the lily livered French can never come up with the goods despite all their talk of “la gloire.” But every time Bush shakes the hands of Premier Putin, or another day goes by with the White House silent on Russian atrocities in the breakaway province of Chechnya, those east-west wounds heal a little. The Germans and the French, the real believers in the European project are licking their lips at the prospect of another Bush presidency. So Americans who feel they want to make a statement about how they have been treated by Europe have a dilemma in the dark days of November. They may feel they want to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the man they believe has been betrayed by the Old World. But that is exactly what the cynical, conniving Old World wants.Daniel Elton is a student from University of Cambridge in England, interning this month at the Vail Daily.


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