As the French and Germans continue to dodder around in their moral and intellectual senescence, they are hastening the day when they move from being a topic for historians to being a topic for archaeologists. Tom Wolfe once joked that their countries had become theme parks fit for the commercial genius of Disneyland. Actually, it now appears that under the leadership of Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, their countries are more likely to become archaeological digs. If the terrorists of the world have their way, unimpeded by the military resolve of the English speaking peoples, the day will come sooner than later.
These thoughts struck me the other day while driving from Washington some 250 miles into the Virginia mountains. Just weeks before, I had been driving in Europe -- in Ireland, to be specific. The Irish countryside, like the countryside of those countries I have now banished from my travel plans, France and Germany, is lovely. But that French waiter of years ago was right. Europe is not as big as America.
From my car roaring along a spacious four-lane highway, I see vast rolling hills, wide valleys and large modern cities popping up and then dropping off as I accelerate on. The fields are alive with cattle and crops about to be planted or freshly planted. The roads bustle with huge trucks hauling an enormous variety of product. Overhead, blue sky and huge billowing clouds contend for attention. America really is big.
That, of course, is only the American countryside. Old Europe also has to shiver at the sight of American cities, hundreds of them. It has only taken a little over two centuries to create them and to transform a wilderness into the brilliant and productive landscape I pass through en route to the lovely Virginia mountains.
Perhaps because our ancestors were so energetic and capable, Old Europe's descendants of peasants and effete aristocrats feel a bit ashamed. Still, this is no excuse for acting so shamefully. If the French and the Germans have any sense of honor, they will lend a hand in rebuilding Iraq. More chapters of appeasement and collaboration will do them no good.