Aspen Institute Berlin Director Jeffrey Gedmin has an interesting and useful piece, “Even Happier than the Democrats,” in the Weekly Standard today. Gedmin previously directed the New Atlantic Initiative at the American Enterprise Institute.
Gedmin basically argues that he knows no Europeans who will publicly state that they admire or respect George Bush — and that a collective sigh of relief has been expressed throughout Europe that Americans have seemingly come back to their senses and knocked the Bush machine back.
Gedmin is right. Europe feels a bit betrayed by the Bush crowd — and now is the time for moderate Republicans like Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel and many leading Dems like Joseph Biden, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and others to act as more empowered Ambassadors of American interests in their interactions with Europeans.
Gedmin won’t do any of the “Neo-Culpa” stuff that many of his neocon pals are doing recently. In fact, he writes of Bush:
George W. Bush is the full package of everything that makes Europe squirm. He is undiluted Americanism. He is anti-elitism. He’s religion and piety. He’s morality and muscle. He’s patriotism and self-confidence. He is rather like that dreaded American animal, the “neoconservative.”
Gedmin suggests that European pundits and pols, in their criticism of Bush and his team, are yearning for an America that looks more like Europe:
. . .when European commentators say they are still yearning for an end to American unilateralism, moral crusades, and the influence of “fundamentalist evangelicals,” what they really mean is that they are longing for a United States just like secular, post-national, consensus-seeking, Social Democratic Europe. But, of course, even with Democrats controlling the House and the Senate, it ain’t gonna happen.
To some degree, Jeffrey Gedmin is right — but he’s also wrong in an important way.
Europe yearns for a pragmatic, problem-fixing America, engaged in the world’s real problems and building international collaborations to meet these challenges. America has departed this space on ideological quests and left a giant void in global affairs that the Europeans have had to partially fill.
Gedmin’s slap at Europe can be understood if one was wanting Europe to look and act more like America — which I think Gedmin and many neocons want. But let’s be real on both fronts.
The Europeans have been more active — in shutting down terror plots, in playing a vital strategic role in helping to simmer down matters in the Israel-Lebanon conflict and in dealing with Iran. America has been absent and must missing in action in these two cases.
Now is the time to embrace Europe and get back to taking on the world’s big challenges.
— Steve Clemons