WASHINGTON -- What is it that attracts so many Americans to Europe? Americans are attracted to Europe by its superior charm, its suave, relaxed, cool hypocrisy. Think of the continental cafe, where the ladies and gentlemen swank from table to table exuding a wealth and importance that is exquisitely nonexistent. Think of Europe's pride in the euro, and the Europeans' lack of confidence in it.
On his first diplomatic journey to the land of cafe society and unused euros, President George W. Bush is being patronized for the many things he does not know about Europe and about his mispronunciations of various European words and names. Doubtless, he will take the sophisticates' jibes cum grano salis, as they say back in Texas.
After all, what do his European opposites know about America? Is there one leader in the European Union who can correctly pronounce Oolitic, Ind., or explain why Bull Snort, Ga., is so named? Or even spot Bull Snort on a map? Is there one who knows that Peach Bottom, Pa., was once considered by Congress as the young nation's capital?
Another unpleasantness that has come up between our carefree, debonair president and European leaders is the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. They are all for it. Though in keeping with their Old World charm not one of their governments has ratified the treaty. The treaty would thrust huge costs on the American economy. It would thrust costs on the Europeans, too, but those costs are off in the future somewhere. In the meantime, the Europeans who have not ratified Kyoto can take delicious pleasure in demonstrating against President Bush for not ratifying the treaty they have not ratified.
Protesting America has become a lifestyle for certain Europeans, such as Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and France's Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. They grew up demonstrating against us. They were horrified by the Vietnam War, the placement of Pershing missiles in their backyard, President Ronald Reagan's "evil empire" and "tear down this wall" rhetoric. They were all advocates of a quaint economic system called socialism. Had we Americans responded favorably to their protests, they would be speaking Russian and we would have an economy as sclerotic as that of, say, Greece.
The clear-eyed editors of The Wall Street Journal remind us that the Kyoto Treaty has much in common with another European enthusiasm, the Law of the Sea Treaty of 20 years ago. It would have deposited the natural resources of the sea beds into international hands. Like the Kyoto Treaty, the Law of the Sea Treaty had the support of most members of the United Nations. Europe was furious over President Ronald Reagan's reluctance to sign it. He passed on it for the same reason President Bush is passing on Kyoto. It is not in the national interest.
While allowing some of the world's greatest polluters, for instance the Indians and the Chinese, to continue polluting, the treaty would require the United States to cut back its greenhouse gas emissions by some 30 percent from anticipated levels The cost to our economy would amount to tens of billions of dollars, a burden that would doubtless filter out to developing countries that depend on a robust American economy for markets. The consequence would naturally be worldwide economic slowdown. Governmental proponents of the Kyoto treaty cannot be serious.