Whenever John Kerry rips the Bush administration for "going it alone" in Iraq -- which he does with near-digital regularity -- I cringe. What must our friends around the world think of such Beacon Hill provincialism? Surely, the man's open disdain for allied forces in Iraq, great and small, conveys an alienating lack of diplomatic politesse. In Kerry's insistence that the commitment of our allies -- British, Italian, Polish, Ukrainian, Dutch, Australian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Japanese, Thai, Danish and others -- adds up to a big fat zero in a "unilateral" American adventure, he has shown himself bereft of all diplomatic smarts. Talk about Ugly American. Only this one speaks perfect French.
That explains a lot. That is, while the assistance of 30-odd countries in newly sovereign Iraq isn't exactly chopped liver, the real problem, when it comes to John Kerry, is that it isn't foie gras. In other words, when Kerry castigates President Bush for acting "solo" in Iraq, what he's really crabbing about is that the United States is acting without France. For Kerry and his Francophile set, acting sans France is a major problem, a veritable crisis. Since he is one of two men who may occupy the White House next year, his crisis is our concern.
First of all, Americans need to ponder what sort of American leader, to borrow a phrase from former Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, always blames America first -- and, in recent times, always blames France last. This is the brave, new philosophical reflex that gives impetus to the Kerry doctrine. In Kerry's world, George W. Bush (in concert with Great Britain's Tony Blair) was all wrong to deviate from the policies of La France regarding Saddam Hussein. After veto-empowered France withheld Security Council approval for U.S.-led military action in Iraq, Bush was all wrong again to defy France, enforce umpteen U.N. Security Council resolutions, and actually liberate Iraq -- thus, according to Kerry, "alienating" our "traditional allies" (Traditional as in Germany? China? Russia?)
But why the Francophilia in the first place? It's true Kerry has French relatives. His first cousin, Brice Lalonde, is not only mayor of the Brittany resort where Kerry summered as a boy, but is also a onetime Green Party candidate for president (of France), and a former socialist environmental minister.
Far from a matter of divided loyalty, however, Kerry's attitudes stem from a shared sensibility. Scholar Victor Davis Hanson recently suggested that to square Europe's anti-American rhetoric with its embrace of Valley Girl culture we should regard Western Europeans as "elite Americans." He writes: "Their upscale leisured culture is not much different from Malibu, Austin and Dupont Circle that likewise excuse their crass submission to popular American tastes through the de rigeur slurs about the 'corporations,' 'Bush-Cheney,' and 'Halliburton.'" And, I would add, vice versa. The key to elite Americans, a la John Kerry Democrats, lies in understanding Western Europeans -- probably best exemplified by the French.
It's extraordinary to behold the hatred for George W. Bush that unifies this Malibu-Austin-Paris axis. Typical is the sentiment of Sen. Ted Kennedy, who, speaking before the Democratic convention, twisted FDR's inspirational words of the Depression into: "All we have to fear is four more years of George Bush." This thrilled, no doubt, Western Europe's blue state-style salons.
Why? The answer is startling, one John Kerry himself is unlikely to grasp. About 30 years ago, historian Bat Ye'or tells us, France initiated a sweeping set of political, cultural and immigration policies designed to align Europe with the Muslim Arab world. This would form what she calls "Eurabia" -- the title of her upcoming book. This alignment "would endow Europe -- and especially France, the project's prime mover -- with a weight and a prestige to rival that of the United States." After 9/11, France has certainly thrown that weight around, blocking, when possible, President Bush's visionary efforts to remake the Middle East even as he fights global jihad. In Bat Ye'or's analysis, France-led Europe denies the reality of global jihad, much of which, after 30 years of Muslim immigration, occupies a European battleground.
In this European state of denial -- not altogether dissimilar, I'd say, to Democrats' dismissive attitudes toward global jihad -- the real menace in the world comes from Bush-led America, along with anyone-led Israel. "What must be understood," Bat Ye'or writes, "is that American and Israeli policies of resistance to jihadist terror provoke reprisals against a Europe that has long ago ceased to defend itself. So that peace can prevail throughout the world, those two countries, America and Israel, need only adopt the European strategy of constant surrender, based on the denial of aggression."
Denial of aggression? Constant surrender? Let's hope so goes France, so goes the nation -- not.