Friday, March 14, 2008

Has the Magic of America Truly Ended?

Has the Magic of America Truly Ended?

By Robert Stein, Ph.D

March 13, 2008

The psychopathology of communalism is well exemplified in today’s International Herald Tribune article (set forth below). French Foreign Minister Kouchner, speaks of the “magic” as being over for the United States. Obviously no one can question Mr. Kouchner’s commitment to humanitarianism, being as he was, the founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres. However, consistent with his socialist leanings he favors a collective approach to solving all world problems. So he found no inconsistency in advocating the overthrow and removal from power of Saddam Hussein, while simultaneously opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

His statement, coming as it does after Mr. Sarkozy’s recent tryst with the American Congress, either represents the emergence of a schizophrenic-like condition in French foreign policy…or it suggests, that just as Mr. Sarkozy expressed his undying faithfulness to his recent ex-wife, while he engaged in extracurricular activities with other women, Mr. Kouchner and the French foreign ministry are playing both sides against the middle.

The fact that Mr. Kouchner not only can’t see the contradiction in his positions but also expresses a deep disillusionment with America is reflective of this sickness.
A bloodthirsty dictator was removed from power, but America didn’t “follow the rules” [of engagement] which the socialists believe they have already established. These rules guarantee nations will jawbone problems and avoid decisive action…since by definition the “collective” approach to security via the United Nations usually guarantees paralysis. How rapidly can anything occur when everyone has to agree before action can be taken. In reality, if Saddam hadn’t been physically removed by the U.S., he would have shortly succeeded in removing sanctions and reconsolidating his power.

But what is deeply troubling to so many socialists is the lack of hard power which Europe possesses. American power scares them, because they only have limited control over it. The abandonment of an independent EU military force and the French decision to rejoin the military wing of NATO further highlights this deficit. Consistent with the manner in which ego defense mechanisms function, we hear Mr. Kouchner projecting his disillusionment with EU and by extension French military muscle, onto America, which has no such deficit. He acknowledges this in the article.

It isn’t possible to turn the clock back 200 years to the glory of the early French republic. Military hard power is a “pay to play” proposition. Unless the French want to increase military spending as a percentage of GDP, they will always be disillusioned by America following American national interest. However socialists such as Kouchner are blind to the actual lack of nationalism in American assertiveness, since, using the formal definition of nation, America is a conglomeration of many nations in a single state. Unlike the European imperialism which submerged the continent in blood, American assertiveness consistently expands opportunity, expands prosperity and expands individual freedom in those nations which are touched by it.

Although socialists around the world claim they are disillusioned with Bush’s foreign policy, they are in fact disillusioned by their weakness in harnessing American military muscle and exploiting it to enforce their persistent blathering and the goals they feel are important. Since they are unwilling to invest in their own militaries to accomplish such purposes, they persistently attempt to write documents which give them a say in American decision-making. The Bush administration, their faults notwithstanding, never yielded to the socialist’s siren song.

With a presidential election upon us, we will shortly hear the refrain again that the world, meaning the collective, should have a voice in the choice of a U.S. president. Yet, those who make such statements ignore a fundamental fact. It was under the sheltering of American preeminence and because of the expenditure of American blood and money, that the current world economic system has survived and flowered. Although America has often acted in its own unique interest, it is still acting decisively to protect and nurture the economic and democratic systems it has helped establish.

'Magic is over' for U.S., says French foreign minister

By Alison Smale

International Herald Tribune

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

PARIS: Bernard Kouchner, the foreign minister of France and a longtime humanitarian, diplomatic and political activist on the international scene, says that whoever succeeds President George W. Bush may restore something of the United States' battered image and standing overseas, but that "the magic is over."

In a wide-ranging conversation with Roger Cohen of the International Herald Tribune at the launch of a Forum for New Diplomacy in Paris, Kouchner on Tuesday also held out the hope of talking with Hamas, the Palestinian faction that rules the Gaza Strip but has been ostracized by the West and by its Palestinian rival, Fatah, because it opposes peace talks with Israel and denies that Israel has a right to exist.

Asked whether the United States could repair the damage it has suffered to its reputation during the Bush presidency and especially since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Kouchner replied, "It will never be as it was before."

"I think the magic is over," he continued, in what amounted to a sober assessment from one of the strongest supporters in France of the United States.

U.S. military supremacy endures, Kouchner noted, and the new president "will decide what to do - there are many means to re-establish the image." But even that, he predicted, "will take time."

Kouchner began the 90-minute event with a speech that emphasized that "there is not just a new diplomacy; there is a new world."

To those intimidated by or fearful of what seem to be the rising challenges of globalization, climate change, spreading disease or new technology, Kouchner had a simple message: "The great difficulty is to accept this new world."

"There are not more problems - please, have a little memory - than 35 years ago," he said, recalling how, in 1971, he co-founded Médecins Sans Frontières in response to the horrors of the conflict in Nigeria over Biafra.

The challenges may be daunting, he said, noting for instance that the world had decided to act to curb the AIDS epidemic, but asking, "Can we take charge of all the other diseases? I'm not sure."

Some of the most persistent diplomatic challenges emanate from the Middle East, and Kouchner was asked about approaches to Iran, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called for the destruction of Israel, or to Hamas, which has the same stated goal.

Kouchner and other European diplomats have tried to talk Iran out of its controversial nuclear program, but officially rejected all contacts with Hamas, which is listed as a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union. Asked whether there is a way to engage Hamas, which is supported by a significant minority of Palestinians, Kouchner appeared to hold out hope of contact, saying: "I'm looking for a diplomatic way to say yes."

He then carefully couched this statement by noting that, in general, "we have to talk with our enemies," and that Fatah, which controls the West Bank, "always said they were in favor" of unity talks with Hamas. But after Hamas routed Fatah forces from Gaza in June, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, has refused to deal with Hamas, which he accused of committing a coup. Kouchner, of the Socialist left in France, stirred controversy when he accepted the offer from President Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of the Gaullist center-right, to join his government last May.

At the end of the conversation, held in a glittering hall at the Académie Diplomatique Internationale, the IHT's partner in the new diplomatic forum, Kouchner denied that his activism had been curbed by the need to run the resplendent Foreign Ministry on the Quai d'Orsay and France's large diplomatic machinery around the world.

But he conceded that practicing the new diplomacy - which he defined as being action that is more practical, multifaceted and realistic than mere protocol calls and visits - "is very difficult, and very time-consuming."

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