Americans who voted for George W. Bush on November 2 are celebrating this week, and despite the anti-Bush hysteria in much of the Western press, we’re not celebrating alone. At what John Donne called “the round earth’s imagined corners,” other freedom-loving souls in their hundred millions celebrate with us, unseen. Like us, they’re feeling joy and relief and renewed resolve, but they could use a little recognition too, because throughout this long campaign, John Kerry and the elite media, here and in Great Britain, have been insisting that they don’t exist, that “the world” consists of old Europe, the U.N., and a bevy of NGOs and Arab states, all consumed with hatred and fear of us as a result of the “unilateral” actions of our president. The real world is a very different place, and this is a good time to take a fresh look at it, in order to recognize our friends as well as our adversaries, and get some perspective on both.
Let’s start with Europe. For the elite media, it consists of a European Union dominated by France and Germany, and not much else. In fact, France and Germany together have just under 143 million people, whereas Europe–if you include Russia and Turkey, the two great nations that straddle Europe and Asia–has a population well over 800 million. That’s almost triple our 293 million, but we are one nation, while Europe is divided up into 44 separate states. Currently, 25 of them with a total population of 462 million are members of the EU, but they were far from unified, even before the addition of ten new members this year, and the divisions are certain to increase, making Franco-German dominance a phenomenon that will not last. This is so, in large part, because most new members are former captive nations of the east. They were eager to join the EU for the economic benefits membership now confers, but most are keenly aware that it was Ronald Reagan’s America–not the EU or the U.N.–that made their liberation possible, and they generally see George W. Bush as Reagan’s heir. His religiosity–anathema to much of the post-Christian West–doesn’t offend them. A half century of Communist suppression of independent churches left many in ignorance about their ancestral faiths, but not hostile to them. Consequently, they have little sympathy for the anti-Bush histrionics of the Franco-German axis. More central still, their long and bitter experience with totalitarian ideology and control inclines them towards a much more realistic appraisal of the Islamofascist threat and, in general, to a worldview that is much closer to our own.
For evidence of that, we have only to look at the 32 nations whose troops are with us in Iraq: 21 are European, and of those, 15 are from the east. Unsurprisingly, Kerry’s repeated trashing of their contributions to what he kept calling “a trumped-up so-called Coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought, and the extorted,” didn’t win him many friends in this group. For all these reasons and more, millions of east Europeans as well as significant numbers of our other Coalition partners were rooting for a Bush victory, although few of their leaders were quite as vehement as Polish president Alexander Kwasniewski. Kwasniewski was outspokenly angry, but a surprising number of other heads of major states also abandoned their traditional public stance of neutrality with regard to American elections in order to make their preference for a Bush victory clear. The list includes Portugal’s Jose Manuel Barosso–the new president of the European Commission–along with Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, Japan’s Junichiro Koizumi, Australia’s John Howard, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Putin’s endorsement is especially interesting because he is the only member of this group of Bush fans who opposed our invasion of Iraq and sent no troops to join us there. In the past, Putin joined instead in the Islamofascist appeasement policies of the Euro-Arab axis led by France and Germany, preferring–except for occasional propaganda purposes–to see the violence in the Caucasus as a separate, unrelated problem. As I’ve argued, the participation of Arabs and other foreign Islamist terrorists in funding, planning, and carrying out the massacre of Russian school-children in Beslan shocked Putin into reconsidering that stance, and George W. Bush’s patient cultivation of his friendship makes that easier to do. So, too, do the attitudes of the Russian people. Recent, much publicized polls in parts of western Europe and the Middle East lands show that popular sentiment in many allegedly allied countries is predominantly hostile to us, but Russia was the great exception: we are popular there, and so is our president.
Sadly, the other two-continent giant, Turkey, is moving in the opposite direction, away from us and towards the French and the Germans. Turkey is currently obsessed with gaining acceptance into the EU, not just for the economic benefits, but because EU membership is mixed up, in many Turkish minds, with profound questions of identity–with being recognized as a progressive, civilized, and modern nation, and not just another despotic Muslim backwater. In fact, although Turkey is still much poorer than the countries of western Europe, its people, at least in its great cities, have long been more similar to Europeans than to Arabs. And, although they get no credit for it, their political culture is, in many ways, superior to that of their European counterparts. Condescending Euros love to dwell on the fact that Turkey experienced a few brief, bloodless, and scrupulously honest periods of military rule, but they studiously ignore the fact that unlike their own countries, the Republic Ataturk founded 81 years ago never succumbed to fascism, communism, or any other form of totalitarian rule. For the moment, alas, none of that matters much. If the EU admits Turkey to the candidate status she craves at their December 17 summit, the long, convoluted “accession process” which follows is likely to keep Turkey subservient to the Franco-German worldview for at least a decade, assuming that the EU lasts that long as something more than a customs union.
Events beyond any president’s control may have temporarily distanced the Turks, but President Bush’s diplomacy has strengthened our ties to longstanding allies in Asia and extended them to significant new ones. Because our elite media lives in a small, gossipy, Eurocentric world, they have largely ignored these developments, but they are extremely important. In the real world, there are more than six and a third billion people, and more than three and a half billion of them live in Asia. Most Americans know that over a billion of them are in China. Many do not know that India, too, has a population of over a billion, but it does, and relations with India are much warmer under George W. Bush than they were when the Clinton administration was issuing its futile condemnations of India’s nuclear development. India never was a threat to us; Pakistan was, due to its role in nuclear proliferation and its support for terrorism, but President Bush has done a masterful job of reversing that, to the extent that it can be reversed, given the hold that Islamist fanaticism has on much of the population there. With the aid of our remarkable military, the Bush team has worked even more of a miracle in Afghanistan, as the brave and moving turnout of voters for that country’s first ever free election clearly demonstrated. Elsewhere in Asia, we have many staunch allies who are celebrating with us because they see the Bush reelection the way Australia’s John Howard does, as “a victory for the anti-terrorism cause.” Eleven of these Asian allies sent troops to join us in Iraq, and so far, ten are hanging tough, in spite of the dangers they face and the scorn heaped on them by John Kerry and his parochial brand of Europhilic “multilateralism.”
In the Middle East, large percentages of the people in three key countries are celebrating too. In Iraq, it’s mainly the leaders and the middle classes who share our joy at the president’s decisive election victory. In Iran, it’s the opposite: Ordinary people of all classes had their hopes rekindled; only the fanatic Mullahs who misrule them are gnashing their teeth, along with the EuroArab axis. In Israel, both the leaders and the people from all spheres except the small and shrinking Left are breathing a big sigh of relief. Most American Jews are still too lost in puerile fantasies about the fake peace of Oslo to understand the hope of real peace and security that George W. Bush brings to the region, but almost all of Israel’s Jews get it, and are grateful. And, although I am on record as being much less sanguine than our president about the possibilities for anything like democracy in the rest of the Middle East in his lifetime, there are handfuls of freedom lovers scattered about, even here, and they, too, are celebrating, although most are forced to do so in secret.
The kind of deep-rooted, fanatic hatred that pervades and disfigures so many of the failed states of the Middle East is largely absent among our Spanish-speaking neighbors to the south, but an infantile Leftism still holds many in thrall. The most striking exception is El Salvador, another country that freed itself from Communist rule with our help, and contributes troops to our Coalition in Iraq. Africa is, for the present, too immersed in the monumental problems of its own troubled continent to contribute troops to Iraq, but there, too, there are leaders with enough vision to be valuable partners in the future. If I had to bet, I’d put my money on Rwanda’s Paul Kagame. This remarkable man may be a problematic non-person to the U.N., the NGOs, and the sneering crowds in Brussels and the Hague, but like our other ignored and derided friends and allies around the world, he may be part of a better future than the Chiracs, Schroeders, Cooks, and Pattens can imagine. And while we celebrate the fact that we have a president who is working skillfully to create that better world, it behooves us all to take some time out to salute the brave allies who are helping him do it, as well as the “numberlesse infinities” of the nameless oppressed who are praying that he succeeds.
Here, then, is the list of 32 Coalition partners to salute, listed by population size, from largest to smallest within each region. EU members are starred.
Asia’s 10: Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Singapore, New Zealand, Mongolia and Tonga. Total population: 295 million.
Eastern Europe’s 15: Ukraine, Poland,* Romania, Czech Republic,* Hungary,* Bulgaria, Slovakia, Georgia, Moldova, Lithuania,* Albania, Armenia, Latvia,* Macedonia, and Estonia.* Total population: 167 million.
Western Europe’s 6: Great Britain,* Italy,* Netherlands,* Portugal,* Denmark,* and Norway.* Total Population: 155 million.
Central America’s 1: El Salvador. Population: 6 and a half million.
A toast to them all!
–Barbara Lerner is a frequent NRO contributor.