Wednesday, November 16, 2005
On European Leadership
As seen on Instapundit:
MORE ON THE FRENCH RIOTS:Ouch. This is, shall we say, not the best time for a lack of strong leadership. (What good would it do if, while America and her allies are busy stamping out terror in Iraq and elsewhere, terror is permitted to blossom and flourish in, say, France?)
The unrest buffeting France the past three weeks has further undermined the already weakened presidency of Jacques Chirac, but he is far from alone on a continent with pressing problems and few strong leaders to tackle them.
Britain, Germany and Italy also have troubled governments, leaving the European Union in limbo as U.S. President George Bush's administration increasingly shows interest in a cohesive Europe to help with difficult diplomatic tasks in the Middle East and elsewhere.
"The whole Western world lacks leadership at the moment," said Guillaume Parmentier, director of the French Center on the United States. "I cannot see any leader who can seize the mantle of the EU and move it in this or that direction."
I guess Europe is the sick man of Europe, now. This is actually a very bad thing, but I don't see any quick remedy.
Or, to put it in perspective for Americans: think of the incompetence that New Orleans' Mayor Nagin, and Louisiana Governor Blanco, showed in a time of crisis. That was bad enough. Now imagine people of their caliber leading the major nations of Europe.
Bottom line: people tend to elect weak or corrupt leaders when they don't think it matters, i.e. in times of prosperity (or when they don't see the cliff they're about to march over). But we never know when the next crisis will come, do we? And when it comes, suddenly our leaders either have what it takes to move forward... or they don't.
Bob Dole ran for the American Presidency in 1996 on just such a platform, saying that he was the leader America would need if a crisis came. America replied that times were good, we didn't need a crisis leader... and re-elected Bill Clinton. In 2000, still headed at full speed for the crisis that few people saw coming, America elected an obscure man with a famous last name -- a former frat-boy and National Guard pilot, with no experience on the national stage -- and nobody worried about the strength of his backbone, because nobody thought it was necessary.
Then, one terrible morning in 2001, we needed a wartime President desperately... and, to my tremendous surprise, it turned out we had one.
Britain, in the late 1930s, was not so lucky. They elected Chamberlain, who could not (and would not) see World War II coming, and so marched us right into it with his eyes open. Britain had to get rid of him and elect Winston Churchill instead.
What will France do? What will the rest of Europe do, as Muslim violence -- and terrorism -- continues to spread?
Unless a brilliant leader comes out of nowhere -- which, as we noted above, can happen -- the prospects don't look good.
(Later: good news from Gateway Pundit. It looks as though Germany has elected a strong leader -- stronger than Mr. Schroeder, anyway -- right when she's needed. I'm glad; let's hope the trend continues!)
UPDATE: via Philmon, a link to Girl on the Right -- a fun blog I'll have to check out from time to time -- and this unforgettable passage:
The Jihadis are waging a holy war against France, because it is an easy target, and because there are enough of them to make it very violent and very successful.
I don't know what will become of Paris's treasures once this ugliness calms. I do not know if the churches and museums will remain.
What I do know is that when the Germans invaded France in WWII, Hitler was adamant about leaving Paris intact. He was a student of art, and was unwilling to see Europe's jewel destroyed. I doubt the Jihadis have the same view of art and culture. And I, for one, am saddened by the thought that one of the most evil men ever to walk the face of this earth had more class than our current enemies.
UPDATE II: I've cross-listed this post on five open-trackback sites: Don Surber's blog, Ferdinand the Conservative Cat, TMH's Bacon Bits, Right Wing Nation, and Mac Stansbury's eponymous MacStansbury.org. (Okay, I'll admit it: sometimes I'm just absolutely shameless. But it seemed to me that this post might be of interest beyond my usual readership. If any new readers wander in, no doubt they'll tell me if I was right or not.)