President Nicolas Sarkozy, currently facing down a strike by French transport unions, is a different sort of leader than his recent predecessors. He is tough-minded enough to believe he can withstand unions fighting to defend a retirement age set at the unreasonably low age of 50 for railway workers, and willing to pay a politicial pricce in the short run to do so.
But it is in his international policies where we can observe both practicality and the self-interest of France at work. It was inspiring last week to hear the President of France sounding like Ronald Reagan in his address to Congress. His speech is worth reading.
Said the President of France:
"From the very beginning, the American dream meant proving to all mankind that freedom, justice, human rights and democracy were no utopia but were rather the most realistic policy there is and the most likely to improve the fate of each and every person.
America did not tell the millions of men and women who came from every country in the world and who--with their hands, their intelligence and their heart--built the greatest nation in the world: "Come, and everything will be given to you." She said: "Come, and the only limits to what you'll be able to achieve will be your own courage and your own talent." America embodies this extraordinary ability to grant each and every person a second chance."
This is a moment of affirmation for America and our foreign policy, because Sarkozy gets it. He doesn't need to be told why Saddam had to be knocked out, and why the mullahs pose an historic threat to Europe and the United States. He gets the mortal threat of nukes going to madmen. Jacques Chiraq and his scheming side-kick de Villepin are gone, and that is worth celebrating all by itself.
But let's be French about this: Practical and open-eyed. Europe needs us again. The Russian bear is growling in the East, the jihadis are finally understood to be serious about infiltrating and killing the West, nukes are within the grasp of A'jad and his merry mullahs, the Saudis are panicked but won't stop exporting Wahhabi hatred against us, and Europe with half a billion people has only pathetic defenses. According to the Bertelsmann Foundation, quoted by Stuart Koehl in the Weekly Standard,
"There are 1.7 million Europeans in uniform, but only 170,000 soldiers, of which 40-50,000 could be used for robust combat operations at any one time."
Europe's military has become just another make-work program. That is constantly justified by media that loudly proclaim that Paradise on Earth has now arrived, and that Europe has solved the problem of war and peace. From the outside it looks like a madhouse. It gives an entirely different insight into Europe's failure to respond to 9/11.
So, Europe needs us: To survive, and to keep its soft socialist couch as long as possible. Because Europe has grown fat, lazy and self-indulgent under American armed protection. Money that normal nations would spend on defense is constantly sucked into the black hole of Eurocracies like the British National Health Service and generous payoffs for every voting block in sight. Eurosocialist parties have knowlingly imported tribal Pakistanis and Turks, who silently support jihadi terror against their host nations. Those people vote Socialist in every European country, because the Left panders to them and brings in more millions of impoverished Muslims to create a new underclass. Amsterdam, Paris and London are increasingly Muslim. The newcomers want their own Shari'a ghettos, complete with Wahhabi preachers, honor killings and women forced to wear black tents. In London they vote for racist demagogues of the Left, like "Red Ken" Livingstone and George Galloway. The Muslim ghettoization of Europe is well on its way. I don't doubt that Nicolas Sarkozy was sincere in his pro-American speech before Congress. But his voters in France would love to fall back to the Disneyland years, when the welfare state played Santa Claus and the Americans took care of defending La Belle France. Their favorite sport was raging against their benefactor, Uncle Sam, because we made a safe target. The Soviet Union was never slammed in public, no matter how many people it killed, because the KGB was feared even in France. But even Socialist President Mitterand swung to the US position when push came to shove, because he knew what side his bread was buttered on. Politicians do things for reasons. I like Sarkozy, who understands the world the way we do: Realistically, and hoping for the best. But we have to understand the fundamental weakness of Europe today. Yes, the euro is getting stronger against the dollar (which helps our exports, and creates another reserve currency for the world, not a bad thing at all). But Europe has painted itself into a ridiculously tight corner, and ordinary people are starting to get it. That's why they voted for Sarkozy, who promised them a chance to work harder for more money. (Not your usual socialist election platform. Hillary would be shocked.) But it worked because enough of the French voters know the predicament they are in. They don't think the good times will last.
So Vive la France! Vive l'Amerique libre! And don't forget, when the bill comes due, we must demand that Europe begin to take on adult responsibilities in a dangerous world.
No more anti-American rage while sponging off Uncle Sam.
That particular Euro Disney vacation is now over.