The European reaction to the president's "fire of freedom" inaugural address tells us a great deal about Europe's failure to grasp the stakes in this War on Terror. An editorial in the London Daily Telegraph said, "Now comes the hard part. President George W. Bush's elegy to freedom yesterday and his vision of it flowering around the world fitted into the long tradition of inaugural speeches that blend America's optimism with smugness about the reach and benefits of its power."
Berlin's Die Tageszeitung said, "If you take seriously what Bush said before and during his inaugural address, you will really dread this U.S. government. . . . The message of yesterday's big -- and many U.S. citizens thought too big -- and carefully staged inauguration is clear: The continuity from his first term will remain, but at the same time this U.S. government will have more sense of mission and do whatever it thinks is right and won't have anybody else disturb it. . . . The horror is justified."
France's Le Monde lamented, "We can fear that, in the eyes of Mr. Bush, the criteria for tyranny would essentially be hostility toward the United States and that he would be inclined to close his eyes to the democratic failings of regimes that show cooperativeness. . . . The outcome of his activism abroad makes us fear similar traumas at home."
A London-based Muslim singer -- also known as the Muslim Madonna -- receives death threats for showing some skin in a video. America's fault? The French passed a law banning the wearing of religious clothing -- including Arab girls' head scarves -- for which the country received threats from Arab extremists. America's fault? In Holland, Islamic thugs killed a filmmaker who made a film critical of Islam and the abuse of Muslim women. America's fault?
It's always interesting getting a human rights lecture from Europe, a continent -- over the centuries -- riddled with war, economic exploitation and imperialism.
Democracies tend not to attack each other. The future of Iraq, the defense of America, and a successful prosecution of the War on Terror mean this: repressive, brutal, un-free, non-transparent governments must fall. A free Iraq threatens to ignite what the president called, in this most historic inaugural address, the "fire of freedom."