After three days of muted receptions, Mr Bush received a far cheerier welcome behind the old Iron Curtain as enthusiastic Slovaks applauded him for visiting them on the last stop of his tour across the continent.With words warmer than the Slovakian crowd's three hour wait in winter weather, President Bush rose to the occasion:
Thousands of Slovaks defied swirling snow and a bitter wind to wait for several hours to hear Mr Bush speak in the heart of their capital, Bratislava.
"We love him," said Arlena Turceanova, a 47-year-old lawyer, bursting with the pride felt by many Slovaks that Mr Bush chose their little country for his third and last stop. "He is president from a great country. It is wonderful that he comes here."
[T]he Slovak people have made historic progress. You regained your sovereignty and independence. You built a successful democracy. You established a free economy. And last year, the former member of the Warsaw Pact became a member of NATO, and took its rightful place in the European Union. Every Slovak can be proud of these achievements. And the American people are proud to call you allies and friends and brothers in the cause of freedom. (Applause.)While those from the Pacific coast or New England still paint Bush as stupid and evil, even Europe's started changing its tune. The catalyst? According to John O'Sullivan in the (subscription only) National Review on dead tree, there's a widespread (if belated) recognition that Bush's strategy has worked where their policies failed:
I know that liberty -- the road to liberty and prosperity has not always been straight or easy. But Americans respect your patience, your courage and your determination to secure a better future for your children. As you work to build a free and democratic Slovakia in the heart of Europe, America stands with you. (Applause.)
Slovaks know the horror or tyranny, so you're working to bring hope of freedom to people who have not known it. You've sent peacekeepers to Kosovo, and election observers to Kiev. You've brought Iraqis to Bratislava to see firsthand how a nation moves from dictatorship to democracy. Your example is inspiring newly-liberated people. You're showing that a small nation, built on a big idea, can spread liberty throughout the world. . .
[B]y their sacrifice, they have helped purchase a future of freedom for millions. Many of you can still recall the exhilaration of voting for the first time after decades of tyranny. And as you watched jubilant Iraqis dancing in the streets last month, holding up ink-stained fingers, you remembered Velvet Days. For the Iraqi people, this is their 1989, and they will always remember who stood with them in their quest for freedom. (Applause.)
In recent times, we have witnessed landmark events in the history of liberty, a Rose Revolution in Georgia, an Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and now, a Purple Revolution in Iraq. With their votes cast and counted, the Iraqi people now begin a great and historic journey. They will from a new government, draft a democratic constitution, and govern themselves as free people. They're putting the days of tyranny and terror behind them and building a free and peaceful society in the heart of the Middle East, and the world's free nations will support them in their struggle. (Applause.)
The terrorist insurgents know what's at stake. They know they have no future in a free Iraq. So they're trying desperately to undermine Iraq's progress and throw the country in chaos. They want to return to the day when Iraqis were governed by secret police and informers and fear. They will not succeed. The Iraqi people will not permit a minority of assassins to determine the destiny of their nation. We will fight to defend this freedom and we will prevail. (Applause.) . . .
For some, the days of protest and revolution are a distant memory. Today, a new generation that never experienced oppression is coming of age. It is important to pass on to them the lessons of that period. They must learn that freedom is precious, and cannot be taken for granted; that evil is real, and must be confronted; that lasting prosperity requires freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom of association; and that to secure liberty at home, it must be defended abroad. (Applause.)
By your efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq and across the world, you are teaching young Slovaks these important lessons. And you're teaching the world an important lesson, as well: that the seeds of freedom do not sprout only where they are sown; carried by mighty winds, they cross borders and oceans and continents and take root in distant lands.
On this occasion, there was a further reason for reconciliation that most Europeans would prefer not to mention, i.e., their suspicion that George W. Bush is a far more substantial political leader than they had thought even a few months ago. That suspicion goes well beyond accepting that he will be leading America for the next four years or even that his reelection showed a majority constituency for his policies. It is the suspicion that he may be proving right (or at least less wrong) over Iraq, the wider democracy project, and foreign policy in general. The Iraq elections were plainly a catalyst for this feeling, but it is beginning to extend into other questions. In fact, when Europeans look at the range of international problems facing the Atlantic alliance, they struggle to suppress the sinking feeling that the U.S. is handling its crises rather better than the Europeans are handling theirs. Consider:Just as they did with Socialism, the Democratic Party prefers utopian theory to proven policies. No wonder Americans such as San Francisco-area writer Cinnamon Stillwell become Republicans:
In the face of these contrasts, it is hard to maintain that Europe represents skilled diplomacy and the U.S. heavy-handed militarism. Rather the Europeans are instinctively averse to change, shrink from dealing with crises, cling to what Bush in his Brussels speech called the “false stability” of dictatorships (or other existing political structures), and take refuge in diplomatic displacement activities like Kyoto. The U.S. (with its superpower responsibilities), on the other hand, knows it will have to deal with the crises eventually, seeks to do so sooner rather than later, tries to identify and assist countervailing local movements that would reduce or remove the threat at its source, and does not needlessly disavow the use of force as a last resort (since the threat of force is itself a diplomatic tool). For the moment at least, the U.S. approach seems to be working better.
- Iraq. A long struggle is ahead, but most Iraqis have warmly embraced a democratic future. As William Rees-Mogg pointed out in the London Times, although terrorism often succeeds against a foreign colonial power, it never defeats a domestic democratic majority.
- Israel/Palestine. Washington’s contention that serious progress towards peace was dependent upon the removal of Yasser Arafat has been confirmed with almost comic speed. The EU’s long and passionate embrace of the old terrorist now looks counterproductive as well as disgraceful.
- Syria/Lebanon. Europe, especially France, long ago withdrew its protection from Lebanon, where a partial democracy had existed for 30 years. It has also turned a blind eye to Syria’s support for Iraqi terrorism. But the murder of the former Lebanese premier has aroused both the international community and the Lebanese people. While Bush was speaking in Brussels, an anti-Syrian pro-democracy demonstration that invoked his name was taking place in Beirut. From this position of unexpected strength, Bush generously suggested that the U.S. and France were united in their support for Lebanese democracy. He thus acted on a wise man’s words: “Love your enemies; they’ll hate it.”
- Iran. This is the Middle East crisis the Europeans have selected as a demonstration of what their diplomacy can achieve. Thus far, it has allowed the Iranian mullahs to significantly advance their nuclear reprocessing program.
[M]ore than anything, it was the left's hypocrisy when it came to the war on terrorism that made me turn rightward after 9/11. I remember, back in my liberal days, being fiercely opposed to the Taliban and its brutal treatment of women. Even then, I felt that Afghanistan should immediately be liberated, as Malcolm X once said in another context, by any means necessary. But when it came time, it turned out that the left was mostly opposed to such liberation, whether of the Afghan people or of the Iraqis (especially if America and a Republican president were at the helm).Welcome, Ms Stillwell, to the party representing adults. To bad so many other Dems remain entranced by infantile "hatred and fear." As I wrote earlier, I doubt they'll ever grow up to see that modern conservatives, and the President in particular, are the modern heirs of the 18-19th Century "Liberalism" they claim to cherish. How many times must the left turn its head, pretending to miss a homer just because Bush was the batter?
Indeed, liberals had become strangely conservative in their fierce attachment to the status quo. In contrast, the much-maligned neoconservatives (among whose ranks I count myself) and Bush had become the "radicals," bringing freedom and democracy to the despotic Middle East. Is it any wonder that in such a topsy-turvy world, I found myself in agreement with those I'd formerly denounced? . . .
The war on terrorism is nothing more than the great struggle of our time, and, like the earlier ones against fascism and totalitarianism, we ignore it at our peril. Whether or not one accepts that we are engaged in a war, our enemies have declared it so. It took the horrors of 9/11 to awaken me to this reality, but for others, such lessons remain unlearned.
(via The Corner and Wizbang)