John Leo

A former U.S. Navy officer, a naturalized American citizen born in France to French parents, wrote something less whimsical about France's tendency to cave in when challenged: "It was France's government that surrendered a largely undefeated army in WWII to Nazi prison camps. ... The government just waved the white flag and abandoned Britain to its lonely struggle. ... It was France's goverment which, during the Cold War, played footsie with the Soviet Union (and) confortably hid all those years behind the American military umbrella." Law professor Glenn Reynolds, who featured this letter on his InstaPundit site, said French and German leaders "underestimate the depth -- and the longevity -- of the hostility they are creating."

On the Net, there is now talk about "the American street," meaning mass opinion here that the United States and the West cannot shrink from the conflicts ahead. Discussions of "the street" usually refer to excitable rent-a-mobs trotted out for television in Arab countries. Recently Europeans have argued that French and German leaders are constrained by anti-American and pacifist leanings of the "European street."

Sen. John McCain used the term "the American street" in a low-key but very strong speech Feb. 8 in Munich. As a result, McCain, not a traditional favorite in Internet commentary, has emerged as something of a hero. European statements that "seem to endorse pacificism in the face of evil and anti-Semitic recidivism in some quarters, provoke an equal and opposite reaction" in the U.S., McCain said.

This "American street," McCain continued, strongly supports disarming Iraq, "accepts the necessity of an expansive American role in the world to ensure we never again wake up to another September 11 (and) is perplexed that nations with whom we have long enjoyed common cause do not share our urgency and sense of threat in time of war."

McCain said a minority of European leaders, by using anti-Americanism to achieve European unity, are acting like the Arab governments that use anti-Americanism to divert their people from problems at home. The endless international inspections that France and Germany call for "are unlikely to work any better than did the Maginot Line" in World War II.

McCain talked about the cost of not confronting Hitler and al-Qaida earlier. Munich was the perfect place to deliver a speech on the obvious theme of appeasement and the more subliminal theme of political cowardice. It was a potent talk, missed by mainstream media. You can link to it at

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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