HOT SPRINGS, Va. -- Some years ago, while dining in a Paris restaurant, I asked the waiter about the venison on the menu. He told me that it was smaller than that served in the United States.
The waiter, a long-faced man, who, come to think of it, looked rather like the junior senator from Massachusetts, went on to say, "But then, everything in Europe is smaller than in America." I was too much the gentleman to tell him that my corn-fed venison back in the American Midwest was more tender than his and tasted better, if only un peu meilleur.
Given France's support of our humanitarian efforts in Iraq, I shall not be spending much time in French restaurants for the foreseeable future or, for that matter, in German concert halls. I have long admired the charm of French life and the Germans' conception of music, at least from the 17th century to the early 20th -- but misgivings about the French and the Germans that began with their behavior in the 1930s and have continued to the present make them repellent to me. They never faced up to post-World War II communism or to their responsibility for the cruelty and destitution that replaced their colonial empires in what came to be called the Third World. Even in the NATO alliance, they almost never met their military budgets.
Now they are sitting back and lecturing us while our coalition attempts to lift barbarism from the Iraqis, to sober up the nihilists of the Middle East and to defeat terrorism. The French and the Germans have revealed no plan, no will and no intention of bringing justice or peace to Iraq. The only evidence I have seen of their involvement in the area is long inventories of arms they sold to Saddam and catalogues of payoffs they received from the United Nations oil for food scheme.
The French and the Germans have almost always let the English-speaking peoples bear the cost of liberty. Even in the Balkans in the 1990s, they importuned upon the United States for as much military might as they could possibly inveigle from us. Nonetheless, throughout the Cold War and now into the war on terror, we Americans have episodically had to witness their imbecilic anti-American rallies. As they burn our flags and ignorantly depict our presidents as cowboys, we are supposed to take instruction from their infantile tantrums.
Old Europe obviously is conflicted about cowboys. Their chattering classes are given to using the term "cowboy" as one of disparagement. Yet American Westerns remain a staple of entertainment on television stations all over the old bone heap -- Orwell's term -- that is Europe.