For the past 4 years (at least), many on the left (& in the MSM) have accused the President of “cowboy” diplomacy, of going it alone without the participation of our allies. In making that claim, the President’s critics have made much of France’s opposition to his policies. But, with the victory yesterday of Nicolas Sarkozy, we can once again see that the problem was not so much Bush’s decision to “go it alone,” but the duplicity of the French.
In declaring victory yesterday, Sarkozy “embraced” his nation’s friendship with the United States, noting that his “dedication to our relationship with America if well known and has earned me substantial criticism in France.” While noting his disagreements with U.S. foreign policy from time to time, he faulted the attitudes not of the Bush Administration, but of the outgoing French leadership, pointing out that “France’s foreign policy had often suffered from an arrogant and insensitive approach” which, as John Fund put it, was “a clear reference to the haughty attitudes of retiring president Jacques Chirac and his prime minister, Dominique de Villepin.“
It was after all, de Villepin in 2002-03, then as Foreign Minister, who deceived then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell about France’s intention to support the Iraq War in the U.S. Security Council and who lobbied Turkish legislators to vote against allowing U.S. troops to invade Iraq from their soil. It wasn’t so much that the Bush Administration sough to go it alone, it was that France (under Chirac and Villepin) sought to thwart U.S. policy. As the Washington Post‘s Jim Hoagland put it, “Chirac’s foreign policy . . . sought to establish Europe as a counterweight to American influence abroad.” That is, Chirac and Villepin were determined to oppose us merely for the sake of establishing a foreign policy different from that of the United States.
To be sure, Hoagland does not expect Sarkozy to immediately repudiate Chirac’s foreign policy. Still, Sarkozy has not shied away from his affinity for the United States, even braving (if that be the word) a pre-election meeting with the president where he had “his picture taken shaking” the much-maligned Chief Executive’s hand. (As I wrote above, Sarkozy noted himself that his dedication to the Franco-American alliance earned him some criticism in France.)
And the media has noted his pro-American attitudes, with London’s Telegraph calling him “a blunt and uncompromising pro-American conservative” and USA TODAY heading today’s paper, “Pro-US president elected in France.” Sarkozy himself acknowledged as much in his victory speech, saying that the United States can “count on our friendship,” even as he made clear that “friendship means accepting that friends can have different opinions.” Sounds like friendship between nations is like friendship between individuals.
The media (and the left) have made much of the failures of the President’s foreign policy. And from time to time, their criticisms have been on the mark. But, all too often, they have been unwilling to criticize the foreign policies of other nations. That the French president-elect has taken issue with the policies of the incumbent (French) administration, while daring to meet with President Bush (before the election) and reaffirming his support for the United States (during the campaign and after the election) indicates that American foreign policy (under Bush) is not the cowboy diplomacy (as defined by its critics) and that other nations need change their diplomacy as well.
(One wonders why it is the MSM is so eager to criticize the U.S. foreign policy while barely questioning that of our allies — and adversaries on the world stage.)
In the past two years, the three Western nations (Germany, Canada and France) with the most vocal anti-U.S. foreign policy have replaced governments critical of the current American administration and elected leaders eager to work with President Bush and his team — even while acknowledging that they will not always agree.
– B. Daniel Blatt (GayPatriotWest@aol.com)
UPDATE: Bidding adieu to Jacques Chirac, Anne Applebaum notes, “Chirac constantly searched, in almost all international conflicts, for novel ways of opposing the United States.” (Via Instapundit who, once again displays the picture with the poster calling Chirac a worm.) Chirac kind of sounds like the Democrats, constantly searching for ways to oppose President Bush. Chirac’s quest certainly helped Bush Administration critics. For without France’s vocal opposition to U.S. foreign policy, they would have had a much harder time defining the President as a cowboy with a go-it-alone foreign policy.