The Echo Chamber
Friday, February 21, 2003
  10:38 AM

Steven Den Beste's post from yesterday is a must-read. He sheds light on European anti-Americanism.

Yes, the French are snooty impotent ingrates, but now I have a better understanding why. 

Thursday, February 20, 2003
  1:54 PM

Hey Jacques! Are you really friends with Saddam, or is it all about oil?

There is more than just anti-Americanism behind Jacques Chirac’s appeasement of Saddam Hussein. The two are personal friends.

Two days ago Little Green Footballs published a photo from 1975 showing the Hussein and Chirac at a French nuclear power plant.

Rush Limbaugh has another picture of the two together in 1976.

According to via Rush, the New York Times wrote in 1986 that Chirac had claimed many times that Hussein was a “close personal friend.” reports that what Chirac called his "close, personal relationship" with Saddam dates back to late 1974, when Chirac traveled to Baghdad and met the #2 man in Iraq: Vice President Hussein. During that visit, their main negotiation issue was Iraq's purchasing of nuclear reactors. In September 1975, Chirac personally took Saddam on a tour of a French nuclear plant. He expressed his desire to help Iraq with its nuclear program, and "the Iraqis bought a 70-megawatt reactor along with six charges of 26 points of uranium enriched to 93%." That's enough weapons-grade uranium to produce three to four nuclear devices.

Baghdad also purchased a one-megawatt "research reactor," and France agreed to train 600 Iraqi nuclear technicians and scientists. France also agreed to sell $1.5 billion worth of weapons to Iraq - for which they got a lucrative oil contract. In 1987, the Manchester Guardian Weekly quoted Chirac as saying that he was "truly fascinated" by Hussein.

This is not being talked about yet in the major media. But this is a huge story that, thanks to bloggers, will not go away.
- (Hat Tip to Kevin McGehee)

Wednesday, February 19, 2003
  3:58 PM

Gimme That Dubya Religion

Yesterday both the Associated Press and Time Magazine published hand-wringing articles about President Bush’s religious faith.

-Hat tip to Joe H. for the AP article.
The AP story expresses concern that Bush’s public declarations of faith exclude people of different religions or people with no religion.

The AP article gave several examples of offending rhetoric. Here is one…
In Grand Rapids, Mich., the day after his State of the Union address, Bush said the humanitarian crisis [AIDS in Africa] is a chance "a moral nation" cannot pass up to use its riches and know-how for good.
Of course Bush did not invoke religion when he spoke of “a moral nation.” But it’s interesting that this was used as an example. Unless morality is made relative to the point that it is not instructive of anything, or unless it’s tied to liberal ideology, apparently it is unacceptable.

The AP also quotes from Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address and the speech after the Columbia disaster.
"We Americans have faith in ourselves, but not in ourselves alone. We do not claim to know all the ways of providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life and all of history. May he guide us now, and may God continue to bless the United States of America."

“The same Creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all are safely home."

These are ecumenical quotes. The only people who would be offended by these words believe faith should be forced underground. Where’s the tolerance?

Atheists and agnostics have a choice when they hear a President or other public official make a religious reference. They can (A) Become enraged, (B) Smile paternalistically thinking he is pandering to those dumb Bible-belters, (C) Ignore it as inoffensive fluff, or (D) Convert.

Commentators who always chose (B), (C), or (D) when Rev. Jesse Jackson or Clinton speak jump straight to (A) when Bush mentions God. I guess belief in God is tolerable when it serves to advance the liberal agenda.

Joe Klein’s Time article is even more ridiculous. Apparently it is not enough for Presidents to be agnostic publicly, but privately during crisis they should not have the strength and certainty that faith brings, but should be plagued by worry and doubt. Otherwise they are dangerous for the country.

Klein says,

George W. Bush's faith offers no speed bumps on the road to Baghdad; it does not give him pause or force him to reflect. It is a source of comfort and strength but not of wisdom.
Accepting this thesis requires you believe that there is no God to grant wisdom during times of crisis. But beyond that, what does worrying accomplish? Once the President has seen the intelligence and the listened to the expert analysis, isn't it possible that the answer could be obvious – even if it involves something as monumental as waging war?

Klein states,
And this, I think, is at the heart of what is disturbing about Bush's faith in this moment of national crisis: it does not discomfort him enough; it does not impel him to have second thoughts, to explore other intellectual possibilities or question the possible consequences of his actions. I asked one of Bush's closest advisers last week if the President had struggled with his Iraq decision. "No," he said, peremptorily, then quickly amended, "He understands the enormity of it, he understands the nuances, but has there been hand-wringing or existential angst along the way? No."
I wonder if Mr. Klein has considered the possibility that Bush knows more about the danger Iraq poses than he. Perhaps that knowledge, together with his religious faith, makes Mr. Bush comfortable that he has made the right decision.

Mr. Bush can’t win with these people. We should worry that he’s so certain. But if ever expressed doubt, these same people would jump on that – “Hey! Even Bush is worried. We should back away from this conflict.” 

Tuesday, February 18, 2003
  11:22 AM

France Gave Us The Statue

When I went on my anti-France rant yesterday I forgot one major contribution the French have made since the Revolutionary War – The Statue of Liberty.

The importance of this contribution should not be discounted. The Statue has been a powerful reminder to the American people that our country should always stand for liberty. Its official name, “Liberty Enlightening the World” is a reminder that we have a responsibility to encourage freedom wherever and whenever possible. The Statue made a powerful impression on immigrants as they came into the country. Its message to new Americans was that you are free to succeed or fail based on your own merits. The rigid class structures or totalitarian rules of your old country do not apply here.

How different France must have been in the 1870s. It was the elite in France, the intellectuals, that were the impetus behind the gift. Those intellectuals wished to celebrate the arrival of the United States as a country. America had won her independence thereby inspiring the French Revolution. She had successfully defended her independence again in the War of 1812. And then, remarkably, she had ended slavery in her country in a bloody and costly Civil War. It had been a remarkable 100 years – and France thought it worthy of celebration. And it was.

The accomplishments of our first 100 years were primarily things done by our country for our country. In the first two wars we established our independence. In the third we moved closer to the founding ideals. Beyond serving as inspiration, how did this directly benefit the French?

I guess our country was becoming an important trade partner for France. But if they had wanted to commemorate that, they could have presented us with some beautiful abstraction like the Eiffel Tower. Instead, they gave us a Statue that obviously commemorates the founding principles – which they must have admired.

I wonder what sort of monument French intellectuals would send us to commemorate the 117 years since their last gift. I suspect no monument is forthcoming. But if it were, I doubt it would celebrate our country as Lady Liberty did. France's current anti-American mood would lead one to believe that in the last 117 years we've done nothing the French have found admirable. But what we've done for France is the greatest thing one country can do for another.

I wonder if our relationship with France would be as strained today had the Statue of Liberty been destroyed September 11, 2001. Here at home the loss of such an important monument would have further inflamed the American people. But I imagine that our response to terrorism would have been roughly the same. Perhaps we would not have been as differential to the UN regarding Iraq.

But what effects would that attack have had on the French people? Would France have reflected on the friendship that inspired their country to give the Statute in the first place? Would Thierry Meyssan’s book, The Frightening Fraud, have become a French best seller? Would France have offered to help replace to Statute? But most importantly, would France have been more circumspect in her opposition to our every move since 9/11?

Thankfully, we are not learning the answers to these questions now. I am glad that at this critical time we still have a Statute that reminds us that our first love is freedom. 

Monday, February 17, 2003
  11:34 AM

Question: Is there anything about France that the U.S. can appreciate?

Answer: Yes, its absence.

In 1966 France, in an effort to prove that the greater part of sophistication is boundless ingratitude, pulled out of the NATO Defensive Planning Committee. Now, this committee has agreed to live up to its commitment to defend member nation Turkey.

Why didn't NATO deny France a platform for whining and just go to this committee to begin with?

NATO has sought to limit its use [the NATO Defensive Planning Committee] since the end of the Cold War in a spirit of rapprochement with Paris.
What since the Revolutionary War, has playing nice with the French accomplished for the United States? Thanks for the privilege of saving your butts twice last century. Oh, and thanks a million for starting the Vietnam conflict, and then leaving us with it.

I'm beginning to believe that France is a country of masochists. The worse you treat them (Germany), the better they like you. If that's a slight exaggeration, the converse is absolutely true. We've footed the bill for their socialism and month-long vacations by paying for their defense for over fifty years and they couldn't hate America more if we stole the Eiffel Tower and relocated it to Arizona next to the London Bridge.

I don't know, maybe we're the masochists. 

  10:23 AM

Mark Steyn writing for the National Post laughs at those “experts” that believe any American policy not accepted by France is “unilateral.”
To the dozy "experts" on this side of the Atlantic, the notion of a "split" between America and "Europe" is so appealing they don't seem to care that the only real split is between Chirac, Schroeder and Belgium's Manekin Pis, on the one hand, and everybody else. America has never been isolated. Oh, sure, concede the cynics, Bush's Anglosphere poodles in Britain and Australia are snuffling his gusset, but no one else. Well, there's those seven Continental countries that signed that letter to The Wall Street Journal. Hah! scoffed Robert Scheer of The Los Angeles Times, nothing but a bunch of nations "you can buy on eBay." Really? Italy? Spain? Next, the Vilnius Group got on board: That's pretty much every country in the Baltic and Eastern Europe. "Everyone's feeling better. Albania signed on," sneered Mark Shields on CNN.

Oh, dear, oh, dear. Are there no foreigners good enough for Shields, Scheer and the other "multilateralists"? Brits, Aussies, Italians, Poles, Lithuanians: none of 'em count. During the Great War, Irving Berlin wrote a song about a proud mother watching her son march in the parade: “They Were All Out Of Step But Jim.” In this war, according to the picky multilateralists, they're all out of step but Jacques. Well, President Chirac can do the math: On the Continent of Europe, the majority of nations support the Anglo-American position; Belgium supports the Franco-German position, and the rapid crumbling of support for the Schroeder government at home suggests, if he's not careful, that the axis of weasels is going to be down to Paris and Brussels, Monsieur Evil et Mini-Moi.


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