Anti-American books tore up the best-seller list in France throughout the Clinton presidency. The staged anti-globalization riots during the 1990s were not love letters to America or the Democratic party. In 1999, Bill Clinton needed 10,000 policemen to protect him from Greek activists who aimed to firebomb him. Protesters in Athens continually pulled down a statue of Harry Truman. Despite the relentless jackassery of people like Michael Moore and others who attributed 9/11 to Bush's policies — including our failure to sign the Kyoto Treaty (stop laughing) — al-Qaeda got its operation up and running throughout the sunny days of Bill Clinton and the dotcom bubble.
In the 1980s, anti-Americanism was also a big problem, but fortunately the elites of Europe generally understood — with some lamentable exceptions — it was better to have America as a friend than the Soviet Union as a ruler.
I'm sure that some Europeans dislike us more since Bush became president but who cares, really. It is ironic that former Soviet Bloc nations are friendly to America while our former cold war allies are unfriendly.
When looking at the bigger picture we see that Europe is far less important than China.
The U.S. is the only superpower and European elites don't think anyone but them should be superpowers. The Chinese have a similar attitude, of course, and pretty much every foreign policy article and expert I can find says we're going to be playing Cold War-style games with China for the next 50 years.
While freedom is limited in China as compared to America, China is progressively moving toward more liberty, at least economically. There is no argument that modern China is more free than the former Soviet Union. The result is that China's best weapon against America is cheap products. If Chinese policy and economic trends continue to favor liberty then the worst threat to America is no longer having the largest economy among nations. A good economist will not have any grave concerns over this.
While China should still be considered a totalitarian state, I remain hopeful that it will continue it's trend toward freedom. For Europe, the opposite is true. Europe has freedom on par with America but is showing signs of an opposite trend. Of course the same could be said for America. I will save comments on America's erosion of freedom for a later post.
For now let's look at some of the news from Europe.
A columnist for the British Sun wrote this week, "America may have given the world the space shuttle and, er, condensed milk, but behind the veneer of civilization most Americans barely have the brains to walk on their back legs." Then he got offensive, writing that the people of New Orleans were "finding themselves being blown to pieces by a helicopter gunship."
A third of Germans under 30 think America ordered the 9/11 attacks. The "theory" that the Pentagon attack was self-inflicted stagecraft is in wide circulation in France, and the subject of a best-selling book. Throughout Europe, it's easy to find commentators who take it at face value that Bush's failure to sign Kyoto led to Katrina. (It's worth noting: Clinton refused to sign it, too. And rightly so.)
Tony Blair, a stalwart ally in Iraq, has recently been caving to Islamic radicals for domestic political considerations. He's decided to seek advice from a new "task force" on extremism that hosts a rogues' gallery of anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and apologists for bin Laden and jihadism (one "adviser" calls bin Laden a "freedom fighter"). This hardly bodes well for Britain to stay the course in the battle against Islamic fundamentalism.
What bodes even worse is that Britain is the only country in Europe with a military capable of projecting significant military force abroad for a sustained period of time. Even if the next president, or the one after that, succeeded in winning European friends where Bush has failed, it seems unlikely those friendships will be of enormous use. Economically and militarily, Europe is increasingly second-rate.
With respect to economic freedom and the improvement of peoples lives, I am more hopeful for China than I am for Europe. The wild card is the Chinese governments ability to instantly screw things up. An invasion of Taiwon and all bets are off. And in light of China's massive military modernization and build up, the threats can not be ignored. The Chinese will not back down from Tiawon the way the Soviets did in Cuba. Tiawon is the oriental Sudetenland.