Wednesday, November 24, 2004

This is an article from Tuesday's La Vanguardia. It is by one M. Pascal Boniface, which I suppose would be Pascual Carabuena in Spanish or The Celebrated Jumping Pasky of Calaveras County in American. M. Boniface is billed as the Director of the Institute of International and Strategic Relations in Paris. Now, I've never heard of this Institute. I have a feeling M. Boniface is a big frog in a small pond. M. Boniface's text is in italics and my comments are not.

The Europeans, who would have voted massively, but, to their misfortune, only virtually, for John Kerry, woke up in a rather bad mood the morning of the 3rd when they learned that George Bush had been reelected, and besides that, triumphantly, as the American president.

Good. I hope they felt just like you feel in the morning after you've drunk too much beer and eaten some greasy fast food and then three-holed all over yourself the night before.

The additional mobilization of 15 million more voters than in 2000 did not work, as one would have thought, in favor of the Democratic candidate, but rather clearly for the Republican, who won by nearly four million votes.

Yes. One would have thought so, wouldn't one? Iberian Notes was the only major medium of communication that actually predicted a high turnout would favor Bush, by the way.

It is an unpleasant reality, but one must accept it: the Americans do not share the opinion of the Europeans about their president.

Rather than "an unpleasant reality", I'd say, oh, I dunno, "a damned good thing".

This is the proof that, although what the United States thinks is central to the planet, what the rest of the world thinks doesn't matter to the US.

Substitute "France" for "the rest of the world" and you'd be closer to the truth.

International support was not a decisive advatntage for Kerry, who saw himself almost forced to hide it during the campaign, as if it were more of a handicap than an advantage, as if the support of the rest of the outside world were somehow suspicious, as if the interests of the US and the rest of the world were necessarily different and even contradictory.

M. Carabuena is again conflating "France (and its Old European pals, Germany, Belgium, and the Zap regime)" with "the rest of the world". As far as I know Zap was the only leader of a democratic state who openly called for a Kerry victory. Meanwhile, yes, "international support" should be suspicious to the American public, because the interests of other countries are not necessarily the same as those of the US government, and it is the President's job to see that American interests prevail when they contradict those of another country. For example, it was in the French economic interest for Saddam Hussein to stay in power. This contradicted the fact that it was in the American security interest for Saddam Hussein to leave power, by force if necessary. President Bush was quite correct in saying the hell with French interests, go pound sand, this guy has got to go, not only for practical security reasons but in addition for humanitarian reasons. No American President should have put French interests before American.

What will be the impact of Bush's reelection on trans-Atlantic relations? There is a widespread fear that George Bush, in possession now of the clear, rotund, and massive approval of the American electorate, will not only not change his policies, but will rather intensify those followed since 2002. Policies in which power is more important than law and where the opinion of the outside world, including that of the European allies, has no value. That is, the unilateralism that has so irritated the majority of the governments and the whole of the European peoples will not settle, but will rather overflow, since it has been approved by a majority of American voters.

Now, wait, Pasky. Again, you're confusing "France and its Old European poodles" with "the rest of the world". Second, since when is power more important than law? Bush, by law, needed approval from the US Congress in order to send troops into Afghanistan and Iraq. He got it. I don't see anything illegal about that. Third, what unilateralism? Washington has the support of London, Rome, Canberra, Warsaw, Moscow, and Tokyo, among many other capitals. About the only outright opposition it has is that of Paris, Berlin, and Madrid. Fourth, note that what's really pissing Pasky off is France's lack of power and prestige. France just isn't getting enough attention. No one cares what France thinks. So Pasky is going to pout.

Nevertheless, although the whole world has been concerned about these American elections as if their future depended upon them, as if their destiny might be changed, the negative consequences of George W. Bush's reelection run the risk of being in reality much more important inside domestic America than on the world scene.

You wish, Pasky.

Domestically, the differences between the candidates were very clear. From the right to abortion to legislation on firearms, from economic policy to tax rates, from homosexual rights to the problem of welfare, the choice was very clear between Kerry and Bush. The choice of the Americans in favor of social themes that would be classified at least as reactionary in Europe runs the risk, in the long run, of increasing the growing divergences in the Western family between the European and American societies. Can we be sure we are still sharing the same values? If, to this, we add the fundamental difference of the role of religion in these respective societies and the debate over the death penalty, it is possible that we will see an increase of the split between the two sides of the Atlantic. These social differences may bring about not unimportant strategic consequences.

Jesus Christ. And they dare to call the Americans arrogant. Here's this guy threatening "not unimportant strategic consequences" if we don't adjust our domestic policies to fit his liking. Exactly what is France going to do, cut off cheese exports? That'll have the Americans on their knees in a week. Look, moron, the American people voted democratically for what they wanted, and they have every right to get it, whether some intellectuals in Paris think it's reactionary or not. The Constitution says that we have the right to own guns. The Supreme Court says that abortion-on-demand is legal, that the states have the right to decide whether they want to use the death penalty or not, and that discrimination against gays is illegal. The President has no power over any of these questions. The President does have power over economic, tax, and welfare policies, and the American people elected George Bush in part because they agreed with his positions and actions on these issues. It is unseemly for M. Boniface to threaten international reprisals to domestic policies carried out by a democratically elected President, who needs the approval of a democratically elected Congress to do just about anything because Congress is in charge of voting the money. As for religion, we have absolute separation between church and state, something true only in France itself among EU countries. Spain, for example, has an established church, the Roman Catholic. So does the UK, the Church of England. The United States does not. If some American people, as individuals, cast their ballots according to their religion, is that not their right? I will point out that, democratically, Jean-Marie Le Pen came in second in the most recent French elections, and that Frenchmen in glass democratic systems shouldn't throw stones.

Things are much less clear in international policy. Kerry's election would not have ironed out all differences between Americans and Europeans. Bush's election is not necessarily an irremediable catastrophe. It is true that Kerry's election would have caused the exit of the neoconservatives, a change in tone, and a calming in relations between the two sides of the Atlantic. It would have attenuated American unilateralism. However, it would not have eliminated it.

I see. So Kerry would have been merely a lesser evil. The Americans would have been the bad guys no matter who had won. I think this is called "damned if you do and damned if you don't." No matter who got elected, America wouldn't have paid enough attention to France because that's just the way Americans are.

Of course, Bush might feel the temptation to continue a policy unpopular in the world but popular in the US. He does not seem a man haunted by doubt or critical reflection.

I think that was supposed to be an insult.

But, no matter how strong his tendency might be to continue down the same road, he won't be able to do it. He cannot keep up his unrestrained unilateralism...

How many times is this guy going to use the word "unilateralism"? Buy a thesaurus, dude.

...which has led him to a dead end. He is in no position to start another war like that in Iraq.

Who said Bush wanted to go to war against anyone else? Iran and North Korea are certainly on the shit list, but nobody's talking about invading them.

He is already at the end of his military capacity in Iraq, and the American army is having recruiting problems. The military occupation is expensive (between 80 and 100 billion dollars annually) and the budget deficit is now colossal. Bush will have to break his international isolation, which is a strong source of weakness for American power.

Wishful thinking, Pasky. The US budget deficit is at 4.5% of GDP. This is why we're devaluing the dollar, moron. The American figure is not much higher than France's, and the United States is currently at war. The American budget deficit will shrink again when the war is over. The French will not, because it's caused by poor domestic policy. And, Pasky, you keep confusing American unfriendliness toward France and its pals with isolation. The US is constantly in contact with London and Tokyo and Moscow and Riyadh and Rome and Canberra and Seoul and The Hague and Prague and Istanbul and Taipei and Bangkok and Warsaw and Oslo and Islamabad and Cairo and Jerusalem and Lisbon and Copenhagen and Mexico City, and we do care what they think. We just don't care what France thinks. Or Havana, either.

It will be very hard for him to deny the reality of his unpopularity. In order to overcome it, it won't be enough for him to improve his communication policy.

This sounds like another threat, with conditions this time. It won't be enough for Bush to come crawling up to France and plant a big fat one on M. Boniface's ass on the steps of the Hotel de Ville. France won't forgive him that easily. Bush is going to have to do penance.

He will have to change his international policy and show himself more active regarding the Palestinian-Israeli question. The death of Arafat should allow him to put more pressure on Sharon. In order to get out of the Iraqi quagmire, he needs international help. He needs the Europeans more than the Europeans need him.

Serious wishful thinking, Pasky. Note that Pasky's condition for the penance Bush must do is to make Sharon give the Palestinians what they want, which M. Boniface surely must know is impossible, because what the Palestinians want is the extinction of Israel and they will accept nothing less.

Often he has been compared to Ronald Reagan. Must we remind him that Reagan, after denouncing the evil empire and evoking the possibility of a limited war in Europe, would put an end during his second term to the Cold War--true, thanks to Gorbachev--and would even evoke the idea of a world without nuclear weapons? Bush II might be, therefore, less unilateralist than Bush I. And, if he is not, he will weaken his country and will accelerate, as a reaction, the construction of Europe.

Sounds to me like another threat from Pasky. Unless Bush mends his ways, the Old Europeans will somehow magically all get together and grow some testicles or something.

The result for the rest of the countries


is a feeling of disappointment with the results of the American election along with a feeling of not accepting as the only options alignment or criticism, both a confession of impotence. Denying American preeminence makes no sense and is equal to blindness. Deducing that this can only result in submission is no more realistic.

You heard Pasky! France will not submit! France is not impotent! Aux armes, citoyens! Remember Marshal Pétain! Where's the Viagra?

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