Situation comedies once helped NBC build a successful Thursday night lineup. But on a recent Thursday, the peacock network couldn?t hold a comedic candle to a documentary on the Discovery Channel. At times, ?Does Europe Hate Us? Thomas L. Friedman Reporting? is fall-on-the-floor funny. And that?s frightening.
The program opens up with the Pulitzer prize-winning reporter (he?s won three, the announcer informs us) walking the streets of gay Paris. Everywhere he turns, American icons -- The Gap, Disney Store, Pizza Hut, etc, surround him.
?Who would have thought that at the beginning of the 21st Century, Europe and America would be so much at odds?? Friedman muses. ?After all, for much of the 20th Century, we were the best of friends.? The reason is simple, of course. They needed us then, and they don?t believe they need us now.
Friedman mentions out that our 60-year alliance with Europe was based on a shared ?commitment to preserving democracy and containing the Soviet Union.? Well, the Soviet Union is gone, but the United States remains committed to preserving democracy and containing evil.
We?ve even started planting seeds of freedom in the rocky soil of the Middle East. This year alone: Iraqis and Palestinians voted, Lebanese rallied to demand that Syria end its decades-long military occupation, Egypt?s president announced he?d allow some democracy, and even Saudis went to the polls for limited elections.
All these things happened because of our influence and because of our willingness to use our military. But it?s that very willingness -- the same willingness that frightened the Soviets throughout the Cold War -- that has caused a divide with our allies.
?Most Europeans feel that America?s single-minded exercise of military power is part of the problem, not the solution,? Friedman says, while images of riotous European ?peace? protesters fill the screen. The only use of firepower these protesters condone is when it?s used to burn the American flag.
Most western Europeans seem to agree. ?We believe that the use of force can arouse rancor and hatred, fuel a clash of identities, of cultures -- something that our generation has, precisely, a prime responsibility to avoid,? then French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin told the U.N. Security Council in 2003.