< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://bokertov.typepad.com/ btb/" >

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

To Hell with Sympathy

by Charles Krauthammer
No one likes us. And the democrats know why: the world loved us just two years ago, and then this President, cowboy arrogant and rudely unilateral, blew it. "When America was savagely attacked by al-Qaeda terrorists on 9-11, virtually all the world was with us," writes Democratic elder statesman Theodore Sorensen. "But that moment of universal goodwill was squandered." He writes that in the current issue of The American Prospect, but he is speaking for just about every Democratic candidate, potentate, deep thinker and critic, and not a few foreign commentators as well. The formulation is near universal: "The president has somehow squandered the international outpouring of sympathy, goodwill and solidarity that followed the attacks of Sept. 11" (Al Gore). "He has squandered the goodwill of the world after Sept. 11" (John Kerry).

The ur-text for this myth is the famous Le Monde editorial of Sept. 12, 2001, titled "We Are All Americans." But as Johns Hopkins professor Fouad Ajami points out, not only did that very editorial speak of America's paying for its cynicism, but also, within months, that same Le Monde publisher was back with a small book ("All Americans? The World After September 11, 2001"--note the question mark) filled with the usual belligerence toward and disapproval of America.

What happened in those intervening few months? Is not the core Democratic complaint that it was overreaching in Iraq that caused the world to turn against us? And yet barely had we buried our 9/11 dead — long before we entered Baghdad — when the French, and the rest of the world, decided that they were not really Americans after all and were back to vilifying American arrogance, unilateralism, hegemony and so on.

It is pure fiction that this pro-American sentiment was either squandered after Sept. 11 or lost under the Bush Administration. It never existed. Envy for America, resentment of our power, hatred of our success has been a staple for decades, but most particularly since victory in the cold war left us the only superpower.

Bill Clinton was the most accommodating, sensitive, multilateralist President one can imagine, and yet we know that al-Qaeda began the planning for Sept. 11 precisely during his presidency. Clinton made humility his vocation, apologizing variously for African slavery, for internment of Japanese Americans, for not saving Rwanda. He even decided that Britain should return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. A lot of good that did us. Bin Laden issued his Declaration of War on America in 1996--at the height of the Clinton Administration's hyperapologetic, good-citizen internationalism.

Moreover, it is unseemly, even pathetic, for the would-be leaders of a great power to pine for the pity gleaned on the day America lay bleeding and wounded. This is to carry into foreign policy a pathology of our domestic politics — the glorification of victimhood and the lust for its privileges, such as they are. It is not surprising that having set up at home a spoils system that encourages every ethnic group to claim even greater victimization than the next, the Democrats should lament the fact that we did not seize and institutionalize our collective victimhood of Sept. 11.

The world apparently likes the U.S. when it is on its knees. From that the Democrats deduce a foreign policy — remain on our knees, humble and supplicant, and enjoy the applause and "support" of the world. Continue reading in Time Magazine.
This could have been written for Israel and the Jews as well; only the names and dates would have to be changed.

See also (the prophetic) Why America Has Already Lost the War by Moshe Feiglin, published September 28, 2001.