Looking for Allies
Scripps-Howard News Service 10.22.02
Hoping against hope, Americans like to think the world consists
of other Americans, merely in different stages of development. Sure,
some countries toil under bad leadership, others may be misguided,
even blinded, by temporary anomalies that cause them to turn hostile.
But, by and large, all people are on the path to freedom, self-government,
and self-sufficiency. In some cases it may be a matter of time,
in others the need is for America to help them on their way.
Given the foregoing, it comes as a shock when we find ourselves
at odds with "the international community," former and
potential coalition partners and - most upsetting of all - our supposed
allies. These days, all sorts of wonderful people right here in
America - in Hollywood, at universities, on full-page ads in The
New York Times - tell us that ours is the most hated country on
the face of the Earth.
We need some clarity here.
What I wouldn't give for an opportunity to ask people, who brandish
the term about, what is meant by "the international community"!
Do they mean the countries who receive large quantities of money
and food from the United States, the ones who depend on the American
military when overrun by their neighbors, or the new creations by
the United Nations with a history of less than ten years? I think
our Secretary of State should consult each and every one of them
for his morning briefing, paying special heed to the opinions of
leaders who pocket the money meant for their starving subjects.
Of course, when you scratch the surface, it becomes increasingly
clear that - with the possible addition of China - people mean Europe.
No, not Macedonia or Belarus. Not even Greece or Portugal. And,
when the going gets serious, not even Italy or Belgium. (Russia
has always been, and still is, an entirely separate matter.)
What people mean is Germany and France, except when they mean France
Americans washed France out of its mess not once but twice in the
past century. America gave Germany the form of workable government
after Germans had tried and failed to do it themselves for - how
many centuries? And both are main pillars of Western Civilization,
the one we all share with most of Europe, with the rest of the English-speaking
world, with Israel. Recent attacks, from New York to Bali, have
been directed against Western Civilization. Why can we, apparently,
not count on two of its main pillars?
Because Western Civilization is a compendium of many things.
Above all, Western Civilization is the urge to explore, discover,
invent, improve. The fruits include the sciences, literature, the
arts and - political philosophy.
Ah, there's the rub.
While we share everything else, including the interest in political
philosophy, the main proponents have split the moment there were
two of them. And so it happened that England and America ended up
on one side, France and Germany on the other.
The fundamental differences between the two sides pertain to law,
the relationship between the people and government, and economic
organization - in that order.
We have citizen juries to deliver the verdict; they trust professional
jurists to do the same. We have an evolving body of case law; they
follow a rigid code.
We look upon government as the servants of the people; they see
government as the institution to control the people.
We recognize free enterprise as the right to pursue happiness;
they have the government decide who may engage in what business.
Of course, these are very general, almost simplistic descriptions.
But observe the sequence: law is the true foundation, it always
comes first. Relations between the people and government and, notably,
economic arrangements are consequences of the law. Those on the
opposite side, thanks largely to Karl Marx, turned it the wrong
way around and would have us believe that economics determine all.
Or, as James Carville put it, "it's the economy, stupid."
No, it isn't.
The point is that political philosophy acts as much of a wedge
as art, music and literature function in the way of a magnet. When
the chips are down, the wedge always proves stronger than the magnet.
The Franco-Germanic way of thinking does not have to reach its
extremes (as in National Socialism or Bolshevism) to be the opposite
of the Anglo-American. Even in its mildest form, the differences
go to the heart of human existence.
Yes, Lafayette came to fight with America's early heroes. The French
gave us the Statue of Liberty. For many years, Germany has bent
over backwards to extol the strength of our friendship. But now,
when deeds need to follow where the words seemed to be leading,
the tone has changed. Reality has replaced the slogans.
And if we cannot count on those who appear to be closest to us,
how on Earth could we count on peoples whose way of living together
is defined entirely by religion, who have never contemplated an
independent legal system, who have never experienced freedom as
a state of mind?
For that, above all, is what we are proposing to defend. And since
we alone realize how unique, how precious that is, we alone will
have to make certain it continues to sustain this land and the people
fortunate enough to live in it.