We Still Have Paris
You won’t hear the song about the decline of the nation’s power and influence overseas along American rivers out on its farms or in its factories, nor in its offices and homes, but only among the self-obsessed chattering class in Manhattan, Washington, and in self-important academic enclave after enclave where it’s an award winning soundtrack. America’s best days as a power in the world, as a force for good, are over, is how its words go. More than that -- that such days should be over because it was never really a force for good, not really. Instead, America is and was an oppressive imperialist state, immoral and power mad. Murderous “cowboys” always upsetting the more sophisticated, accommodating, and nuanced goals of the much smarter ruling European intellectual elite.
Indeed, the intellectuals, both theirs and ours (please remember that intellectual doesn’t mean “smart” it means having no life experience other a theory) have created such a din about America’s faults that the American media and many American politicians, especially those with a leftist hue, have bought into the concept.
And so we have a United States senator standing up in Congress to accuse American soldiers of being jackbooted thugs, we have a man elevated to Secretary of State who once opined that American solders could be compared to the murdering hordes of Genghis Khan, and of course we have our sad president today. A man who, from the moment of his flash transition from a lazy, obscure, and thoroughly corrupt state politician to the great “hope” of mankind, rarely hid his disdain for and ignorance of uniformed Americans in the air, afloat. and on the ground overseas. The “kids we went to high school with” who despite what those intellectuals would have us believe, keep the peace so that all those picturesque European cities and farms, stay picturesque European cities and farms.
It’s all very tiresome to discuss, but we must because for six years Barack Obama has been throwing bricks through the glass storefront windows of ally after ally: Britain, France, German, the Czech Republic, Egypt, even little Albania, and lately of course, Israel. And at first blush it’s not at all apparent that the next administration or the one after that can clean it all up. Only, in that conversation, we shouldn’t make the mistake of biting on the baited hooks the intellectual and their outriders in the media drag in the water in front of us about issues from secret CIA prisons to the purported American assassination of Allende
Instead, it’s more prudent, much more enlightening in truth, to return to a long ago day – July 4th 1917. On that day, the recently arrived U.S. Army 16th Infantry Regiment paraded in front of Lafayette’s tomb in Paris and the words “Lafayette, we are here” were spoken by a member of U.S. Army General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing’s staff. For Britain and France and countless oppressed people everywhere, the instant before those words were said was the low point of the First World War, the instant after the first moment in which they knew good would triumph because something akin to the army of God was piling in on their side and would, in the fullness of time, put things right.
Indeed, those long ago words in front of Lafayette’s tomb earned an affection and trust in the common man in Europe which has only deepened and spread through two world wars and decades of sometimes shooting but mostly cold war. So in answering the question of America’s continued relevance in light of a president who flees from American responsibilities one has to ask, does that reservoir of goodwill and trust which first sprang into being almost a hundred years ago still exist? Has a president who forever apologizes for the nation, who abandoned Europe’s missile defense shield, reduced this country's military footprint, who ran out on obligations in the Middle East, and allowed a nuclear power to start forming in Iran with the avowed purpose of conquering not only all Moslem lands but killing every man, woman and child in Europe who refuses to embrace its religion, so poisoned the water that nobody wants to see America stand up again?
It’s a question easily answered, but before we do it’s wise to recall that Obama is not just incompetent, he is thoroughly incompetent -- in everything he does. Remember his attempt to jumpstart the economy with the socialist fever dream of a trillion-dollar stimulus, the eight or so speeches he gave to in support of his tawdry ObamaCare, to put the brakes on energy production, to demonize local law enforcement, and tie the banking industry up in knots all the while blithely assuming we will accept the excesses of himself, his wife and all his cronies, the worst personal excesses of any administration in American history.
None of it has worked. Just as his best effort to destroy American credibility overseas, especially in Europe, has not worked, indeed utterly founders on the enormous reserves of goodwill America still has among Europe’s people.
Just examine the two amazing set of photographs which have surfaced this week past. The first shows what happened when an American Army Stryker unit motored across Poland. Pulling into one small town, they were mobbed by citizens of every age and sex cheering them, standing on the armored vehicles for pictures while one pretty Polish girl after another (they’re all pretty) crawled through the hatches in order to pose with an American soldier.
The others show what happened when the gigantic American carrier Theodore Roosevelt visited Portsmouth, England. Thousands turned out who couldn’t reach it to touch it (it is too big to anchor in the harbor) but wanted to see it, photograph, pose with it. To applaud and laud the sight of it in numerous comments to the online papers.
The British press proudly reported that one of its escorts was the U.S. destroyer Winston Churchill which always has a serving Royal Navy officer aboard.
And so America still has that long ago day in Paris in its pocket, not as a memory of jubilant millions rushing into the streets to honor America but in the facts on the ground, with the common people of Europe to this day. Because those generations of Americans who first liberated so many and then kept so many safe so honorably have piled up such a mountain of goodwill and admiration that no one very bad American president can disperse it, not in six years and not in eight.
Which means the tedious self-contempt of the argument against a twenty-first century America able to throw its weight once more into the contest between good and evil falls on inspection.
Because all we have to do is scrape this administration off our shoe in 2016 and return to doing good. Not a matter of arrogance or pride, but just in the simple announcement that we’ve come back. Millions of hearts in Europe and elsewhere will answer, “We always knew you would.”
Richard F. Miniter is an ex-Marine and the author of The Things I Want Most, Random House, BDD. He lives and writes in the colonial era hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York, blogs at richardfminiterblog.com and can also be reached at email@example.com