The big news these days is the president's trip to Europe, claimed by the talking heads throughout the media to constitute an effort at "fence mending," the implication being that Bush has been the culprit in the destruction of the fences, in the first place. This, of course, is a large shipment of baloney, although the president hasn't looked all that good in the process. Neither did State Secretary Condoleezza Rice in a trip soon after taking over the reins of her department. Both trips represent a good example of pandering, but little else, and the United States should be above that.
With respect to both Afghanistan and Iraq, most of the heavy lifting has been done by the United States, with significant and valuable help from Great Britain, especially. The nations of "Old Europe" have been noticeably absent particularly regarding Iraq, being perfectly willing for this country to spend its blood and treasure in an effort benefiting the whole world. With large armies, both Germany and France could have spared at least 25,000 men apiece to help unseat Saddam and keep the peace (helping defeat the insurgents), but they chose not to do so, although doubtlessly they expect to profit from the good that is eventuating from the Iraq War.
Take France, for instance, a colonizer of the first order a few centuries back - perhaps a euphemistic way of saying a nation that enslaved whole populations for reasons of both profit and security. The French conquered Vietnam in the latter part of the 19th century, not for the welfare of the Vietnamese, but for its own welfare. The Japanese foiled their enterprise for a while, occupying Vietnam in 1940, the same year the French gave over their country to Germany, while England was being decimated in the deadly German air raids of that year. One only has to use the imagination to consider the hell to which the Japanese exposed the Vietnamese during their occupation. When World War II ended, the French, their country hardly scarred by any of the warfare, had the audacity to try to retake Vietnam and continue its colonizing of that benighted land. They fought the communist/nationalist forces of that country from 1946 through 1954, when they were soundly defeated for the last time at Dienbienphu.
Probably the only democratic power on earth able to fight communist aggression (especially that of the Soviet Union and China) during the early and intermediate years of the so-called Cold War lasting from about 1950 to 1990, the United States moved into the vacuum left by the French when they gave it up in Vietnam. The result was not pretty, not least because of U.S. lack of leadership during the period. Notwithstanding this country's saving of the French hide in both World War I and II, along with the British and other allies (but mostly because of the USA), the United States attempted, at least, to take on the job the French had deserted in Vietnam, at least with respect to the communists, the ultimate winners. As a show of appreciation, the French not only opposed the war waged against terror in Iraq, but also refused to help the best friend they've had for almost 100 years.
Germany is another case in point, but suffice it to say that its government has been primarily responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of Americans during both world wars of the last century. One would think the German government might try to ameliorate some of its guilt for that circumstance, not to mention a thought about some sort of significant, practical reparations for the lives it took, by standing beside a nation that contributed enormous resources through the Marshall Plan toward helping it rise from the ashes of World War II, even though it had been a deadly enemy. Not so. The Germans have taken a pass, despite the fact that the USA bivouacked up to 300,000 troops on German soil through the 90s, thus protecting that nation from the Soviets. Disgusting, although most sensible people believe the Germans should never again have a fighting force sufficient to do the mischief it wreaked upon the world last century. Its history stinks to high heaven.
So…why have both Rice and Bush been in Old Europe playing nice with the heads of state there who actually hate us? This country owes those nations nothing but the back of its hand. Indeed, those nations are trying to establish a United States of Europe, a conglomerate that it hopes can deal with perhaps the upper hand concerning this nation, probably doing away with NATO in the process. God help us all if that should ever happen. It is claimed by the talking heads that this country somehow needs the grace of those nations in order to conduct the war on terror. Balderdash! It's just the other way around. Those countries need the United States in order to survive by any reckoning. After Bush's second term began in January, representatives of those countries should have made their way to Washington in order to establish the contribution of concrete resources in the fight against terror. Instead, it has appeared all during the trip, at least in the media, that Rice and Bush have gone hat in hand to the likes of Germany's Schroeder and France's Chiraq, groveling for a bit of any little tidbit that will evince friendship. With friends like those of Old Europe, this country will never need enemies, Great Britain excluded, of course. Actually, the Brits aren't European anyway.
The Europeans need a large dose of benign neglect. France and Germany are supposedly dickering with Iran regarding Iran's nuclear-weapons program. Good. Let them dicker, especially since Iran is not big in the oil business. It's time for this country to let some of the other free nations pick up their share of the load. The talking heads are screaming for the USA to go one on one again with North Korea. Poppycock! Let China, Japan, and Russia go one on one with the little liar/tyrant/murderer Kim Jong Il. They're in the neighborhood. This country isn't. In short, let the USA take care of business. It has enough on its plate right now. If the Syrians need to be kicked out of Lebanon (and they do), let the Germans and the French do it. They have troop strength that combined numbers well over 500,000 warm bodies…surely enough to convince Syria that it has terrorized little Lebanon long enough. Do they have the will? Of course not!
And so it goes.