Friday, November 16, 2007

The Power of American Alliances

Charles Krauthammer's got a killer indictment of the Democratic Party's "our frayed alliances" meme, over at the Washington Post.

When the Democratic presidential candidates pause from beating Hillary with a stick, they join in unison to pronounce the Democratic pieties, chief among which is that George Bush has left our alliances in ruins. As Clinton puts it, we have "alienated our friends," must "rebuild our alliances" and "restore our standing in the world." That's mild. The others describe Bush as having a scorched-earth foreign policy that has left us reviled and isolated in the world.

Like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who insist that nothing of significance has changed in Iraq, the Democrats are living in what Bob Woodward would call a state of denial. Do they not notice anything?

France has a new president who is breaking not just with the anti-Americanism of the Chirac era but also with 50 years of Fifth Republic orthodoxy that defined French greatness as operating in counterpoise to America. Nicolas Sarkozy's trip last week to the United States was marked by a highly successful White House visit and a rousing speech to Congress in which he not only called America "the greatest nation in the world" (how many leaders of any country say that about another?) but also pledged solidarity with the United States on Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, the Middle East and nuclear nonproliferation. This just a few months after he sent his foreign minister to Iraq to signal an openness to cooperation and an end to Chirac's reflexive obstructionism.

That's France. In Germany, Gerhard Schroeder is long gone, voted out of office and into a cozy retirement as Putin's concubine at Gazprom. His successor is the decidedly pro-American Angela Merkel, who concluded an unusually warm visit with Bush this week.

All this, beyond the ken of Democrats, is duly noted by new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who in an interview with Sky News on Sunday remarked on "the great change that is taking place," namely "that France and Germany and the European Union are also moving more closely with America."

As for our other traditional alliances, relations with Australia are very close, and Canada has shown remarkable steadfastness in taking disproportionate casualties in supporting the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Eastern European nations, traditionally friendly, are taking considerable risks on behalf of their U.S. alliance -- for example, cooperating with us on missile defense in the face of enormous Russian pressure. And ties with Japan have never been stronger, with Tokyo increasingly undertaking military and quasi-military obligations that it had forsworn for the past half-century.

So much for the disarray of our alliances.

Even before the elections of new leadership among our traditional alliance partners, the Democratic attack on the Bush administration's alliance relations was a myth. The U.S. had deep policy differences with a few alliance partners, but there's never been any serious expectation that our post-World War Two treaty partnerships were in danger of disintegration.

Not only that, the post-9/11 media infatuation with global anti-Americanism masqued a robust trend in pro-Americanism internationally, and in recent years American good will,
in countries like Indonesia, has resulted in a burst of America-backing in international life.

Krauthammer notes, as well, that strategically-placed states in the Middle East are tightening their interests closer to those of the U.S. The reason, success in Iraq.