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Bush Conquers Europe

France and Germany find themselves in a box, and John Kerry loses one of his reasons for running.

by Irwin M. Stelzer


IT IS HARD TO BELIEVE that it has been only one week since the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion that liberated France from the Nazis. A lot has changed in a mere seven days.

Start with the international scene. George W. Bush, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder took their act from Normandy to Sea Island Georgia, where they were joined by other members of the G-8 and assorted interested parties. There, Chirac proved once again that a chasm exists between his words and his deeds. "France will never forget what it owes America," the French president told some 6,000 D-Day veterans and assorted guests in his talk last Sunday in the Norman coastal town of Arromanches. A few days later he opposed America's requests for deeper involvement of NATO in the pacification of Iraq, saying such a move would not be "opportune"; fought to water down Bush's program to foster the growth of democratic institutions in the Middle East, stating that he opposed such "missionary" work; and responded with a vigorous "non" to Bush's plea that Iraq's creditors join America in forgiving "the vast majority" of the debts incurred by Iraq during Saddam Hussein's regime. (Within the G-8 nations, Japan is owed $4.1 billion, Russia $3.5 billion, France $3 billion, Germany $2.4 billion and the U.S. $2.2 billion.) And just to make certain that none of the anti-American voters at home gets any idea that he has moved too close to the Americans, Chirac decided to pass up

president Reagan's funeral to keep an unspecified "previous commitment" in Europe.

Gerhard Schröder is in a more difficult position than the French friend with whom he has formed an alliance forged in steel. He is riding a tiger: he has whipped up anti-American sentiment, and ridden the wave of anti-Americanism to electoral triumph. But he now wants to open markets and investment opportunities in the countries that have recently joined the European Union, and to cozy up to the delegates they will be sending to the various E.U. institutions. Unfortunately for him, eight of these countries remember that it was American steadfastness in the Cold War, and Ronald Reagan's decision to replace containment with victory as his policy goal, that got them out from under the Russian boot. So these countries, and the German business community, are telling Schröder to tone down his anti-American rhetoric--which he can't do without antagonizing the voters he has persuaded to hate America in general and George W. Bush in particular.

TO ADD TO the Franco-German discomfort, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved the new Iraqi government, led by Ghazi al-Yawar, who was educated in America. And when the heads-of-state show moves on to Istanbul later this month for the NATO summit meeting, after a two-day stop in New Market-on-Fergus in Ireland for an E.U.-U.S. summit meeting, Chirac is likely to find that his resistance to NATO involvement in Iraq's reconstruction will be ignored by an organization desperate to prove that it is relevant to the 21st century. All in all, it seems that in a single week the reputations of George W. Bush and Tony Blair have moved from the valley of despair to the bright uplands reserved for those who get it right in the tough world of geopolitics.

All of this geopolitical toing-and-froing overshadowed some important developments on the economic front. With Japan now firmly on the path to growth, Europe is the world's principal laggard. Treasury Secretary John Snow called upon the European Union to rely less on export-led growth, which adds to America's trade deficit, and to take steps to accelerate domestic demand. But the Europeans are engaged in a blame game. Schröder and Chirac blame the European Central Bank for keeping interest too high, while the ECB blames France and Germany for violating the fiscal rules of the Growth and Stability Pact--and for refusing to reform their labor and product markets. The funny thing is that both the ECB and its critics are probably right--the one-size-fits-all interest rate set by the ECB is too high to maximize growth in France and Germany, and the French and Germans' refusal to institute economic reforms is holding back their economies. The most optimistic forecast is that the European economy will grow at an annual rate of about 1.5 percent this year, about one-third that of the United States.

NOT ALL THE NEWS from these meetings is gloomy. The heads of state did manage to pronounce themselves in favor of a resumption of trade-opening talks, and to promise to reduce trade-distorting agricultural subsidies and barriers to access.

Whether those pledges can survive the pressures of the American presidential campaign is not certain. Bush is showing commendable courage by defending free trade as a creator rather than a destroyer of jobs, and ridiculing

calls to end outsourcing. He has also had the Commerce Department cut anti-dumping duties on Chinese television sets to levels that will have minimal impact on China's TV manufacturers.

All of this is a misfortune for John Kerry. His campaign rests on a three-legged stool. The first leg is that Bush is a job-destroyer; but the economy has created almost one million jobs in the past three months, and is probably adding better than 10,000 every day. The second leg is that Bush has antagonized America's allies and is isolated; the 15-0 Security Council vote to recognize the Bush-backed Iraqi government saws that leg off. The final leg is that the Bush tax cuts have been a disaster. Ronald Reagan's death has brought renewed attention to the fact that the late president's tax cuts helped to end the recession he inherited from Jimmy Carter, just as Bush's cuts kept the Clinton recession short and mild.

Not a good week for the president's foes, here and abroad.

Irwin M. Stelzer is director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute, a columnist for the Sunday Times (London), a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard, and a contributing writer to The Daily Standard.

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fascinating! I'm sure as a majority here are saying "Fuck Chirac", the french population is saying likewise with regard to Bush.

if recent voting trends suggest anything, a good chunk of the French population is saying "fuck chirac" along with "fuck bush"

kinda like here :laugh:

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if recent voting trends suggest anything, a good chunk of the French population is saying "fuck chirac" along with "fuck bush"

kinda like here :laugh:

I would agree. that seems to be a trend in europe as of late. while a majority of the french people are still opposed to the war Iraq. they even more disenchanted with the economy. which is the true reason for the plummeting of chirac’s support.
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US motive for Iraq invasion:

1. remove Saddam,

2. recover WMDs,

[the rest are highly politicised and crappy]

removal of saddam acquired.

WMDs not present so unable to recover.

Its about time we realise the stakes and make a sensible decision. All the oil in Iraq isnt worth the bloodshed and the growing hatred (that has put americans in perpetual danger)!

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Its about time we realise the stakes and make a sensible decision. All the oil in Iraq isnt worth the bloodshed and the growing hatred (that has put americans in perpetual danger)!

yea yea yea...we have gone over this many times...what counts NOW is some "giddy up" from our so called "allies"...which we ARENT seeing...if the US is distancing (sp?) from Europe, so is France/Germany with the US...

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