Prior to her trip to Europe the media were billing Condoleezza Rice’s mission as one of begging forgiveness from the French and Germans for our “unilateralism.” Granted, those word were never used, but that was the gist of it. While I thought Dr. Rice might try to patch things up with Europe to a degree, I never believed she would betray the president’s policies and apologize for things that don’t warrant an apology — such as our invasion of Iraq.
If you’ll recall we did everything but beg the French, Germans and Russians to come to their senses (and proper calling as decent nations) and join us in removing the world-menace, Saddam Hussein.
Despite what Democrats have repeatedly said, European recalcitrance was not a result of our failure to ask them to join the coalition politely enough. It was not because our position was unjustified. It was because a) they had prostituted themselves to Saddam Hussein’s oil money and b) they aren’t inclined to aid the cause of freedom.
When John Kerry and Ted Kennedy and the rest of the crew claim President Bush has alienated other nations they are rooting for the wrong team. They need to direct their criticisms to these Old Europe nations who refused to do the right thing. If anything, they need to make amends with us, not the other way around.
That is why I was pleased to read Dr. Rice’s Remarks at The Institut d’Etudes Politiques – Science Politique Paris. Far from retreating from our position, she reaffirmed our commitment to liberty and our conviction that we have done the right thing in BOTH Afghanistan and Iraq. After summarily retracing freedom’s march through select examples, including Afghanistan and Iraq, she made this statement:
These examples demonstrate a basic truth — the truth that human dignity is embodied in the free choice of individuals.
Amen to that.
While she didn’t exactly “get in their faces” she was pretty firm in her message — and it was the opposite of capitulating to their pacifist demands. She said:
These achievements have only been possible because America and Europe have stood firm in the belief that the fundamental character of regimes cannot be separated from their external behavior. Borders between countries cannot be peaceful if tyrants destroy the peace of their societies from within. States where corruption, and chaos and cruelty reign invariably pose threats to their neighbors, threats to their regions, and potential threats to the entire international community.
Our work together has only begun. In our time we have an historic opportunity to shape a global balance of power that favors freedom — and that will therefore deepen and extend the peace. And I use the word “power” broadly, because even more important than military and indeed economic power is the power of ideas, the power of compassion, and the power of hope.
I am here in Europe so that we can talk about how America and Europe can use the power of our partnership to advance our ideals worldwide. President Bush will continue our conversation when he arrives in Europe on February 21st. He is determined to strengthen transatlantic ties. As the President said in his recent Inaugural Address: “All that we seek to achieve in the world requires that America and Europe remain close partners.”
I believe that our greatest achievements are yet to come. The challenges of a post-September-11 world are no less daunting than those challenges that we faced and that our forebears faced in the Cold War. The same bold vision, moral courage and determined leadership will be required if we are again to prevail over repression and intimidation and intolerance.
Our charge is clear: We on the right side of freedom’s divide have an obligation to help those unlucky enough to have been born on the wrong side of that divide.
She made clear that far from offering mea culpas for America’s invasion of Iraq, she was calling on Europe to get on board and join the right side of history. She said:
We have not always seen eye to eye; however, on how to address these threats. We have had our disagreements. But it is time to turn away from the disagreements of the past. It is time to open a new chapter in our relationship, and a new chapter in our alliance.
America stands ready to work with Europe on our common agenda — and Europe must stand ready to work with America. After all, history will surely judge us not by our old disagreements, but by our new achievements.
The key to our future success lies in getting beyond a partner based on common threats, and building an even stronger partnership based on common opportunities, even those beyond the transatlantic community.
We can be confident of our success in this because the fair wind of freedom is at our back. Freedom is spreading: From the villages of Afghanistan to the squares in Ukraine, from the streets in the Palestinian territories to the streets of Georgia, to the polling stations of Iraq.
Freedom defines our opportunity and our challenge. It is a challenge that we are determined to meet.
It is clear, based on these and others in her speech, that Dr. Rice was calling on France and the rest of Old Europe to join us to encourage the spread of democracy and freedom in Iraq and the Mideast.
This speech was a breath of fresh air, because in it, once again, we see the steely determination of President Bush to continue on the noble path, irrespective of the petty opposition he may receive at home and abroad. Dr. Rice’s speech can be summed up as follows: “We will continue to lead the effort to expand freedom and democracy for oppressed peoples of the world no matter how difficult the task — because it is the right thing to do, and because it is in the best interests of the United States and the world. Please get on board.”