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A British perspective: The sooner the US treats the
New Europe as the political centre the sooner France and Germany can be
allowed to retreat into further historical irrelevance.
Zut alors! Don Rumsfeld has once again said the unspeakable! The cynical opposition of France and Germany to the forthcoming war against the Iraq terror regime of Saddam Hussein has been highlighted by Rumsfeld with typical perspicacity. Referring to the axis of France-Germany as "the old Europe," the US Defence Secretary accurately pointed out that "If you look at the entire centre NATO Europe the centre of gravity is pointing to the East"
French reaction was rapid and predicable. "Merde!" said Roselyne Bachelot, France's Environment Minister. This forthright Gallic five letter word - (meaning sh**) was first famously used at the Battle of Waterloo by French General Etienne Cambronne. (Of course that was yet another battle that the French lost!)
The French Finance Minister, Francis Mer said he was "profoundly vexed by Rumsfeld" and added that "The old Europe has resilience and is capable of bouncing back" The old Europe didn't show much resilience sixty years ago when it rolled over on its back to become the gruesome laboratory for Hitler's Third Reich.
Meanwhile Germany, rebuilt from the ashes of Nazism thanks to US largesse, has also reacted furiously. Volker Ruehe, a former Defence Minister, whinged that "It's not fair to play off Eastern Europe against Western Europe. Rumsfeld is not exactly a diplomat and it is not very wise to say something like that." Last year Rumsfeld went on record following the viciously anti-American tone of the German parliamentary election campaign. "I have no comment on the German elections outcome, but I would have to say that the way it was conducted was notably unhelpful," Rumsfeld told reporters. "And as the White House indicated, it has had the effect of poisoning the relationship." Rumsfeld was referring to comments by Condoleezza Rice reported in The Financial Times newspaper. She was quoted as saying that the alleged comparison of Bush to Adolf Hitler by Germany's minister of justice had created a "poisoned" atmosphere.
Since then the diplomatic well has become even more toxic as Germany exploits latent anti-American public opinion. The dreary green-tinged socialism that pervades Germany now bleats about "giving peace a chance" when it comes to tackling Saddam Hussein. Germany's historical failure at confronting tyrannical dictators is obvious so we should not be surprised that it shies away from confronting contemporary evil. France has an equally wretched record when it comes to standing up to despots and it's willingness to embrace Hitler led to the term "Vichy" entering the lexicon of shame.
Trapped in a socialist time-warp, clinging to ambitions of forging a United States of Europe, France and Germany dream of confronting the United States of America. They envy the economic success of the US, despise the freedoms offered by the US constitution, and deny the status the US has as the sole global superpower. They should really be pitied as they enter the twilight zone for faded imperialists but for the disturbing fact that they retain residual political influence and thus can use this to frustrate the war against terrorism.
Both France and Germany have growing militant Islamic communities and do precious little about it. In France Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the country's leading anti-terrorism judge, warned that Al-Qu'eda cells remain operative. Terrorism experts believe that Bruguiere's analysis is correct and - despite scores of arrests across the continent - al-Qaeda cells are still operative and undiscovered in many European countries. Dr Magnus Ranstorp, Deputy Director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism at the University of St Andrews states that "In Europe there are definitely sleeper cells still around. It is not a question of if an attack happens but a question of when and where it will happen."
Frightened of this militant Muslim threat the French and German political elite revert to form and seek to appease! Amazingly, the French believe that Islam can help stabilize France and has decided that it should support Muslims by building mosques for them! French Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement is on record claiming that the time has come to provide the Islamic community with the same legal standing as Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. Islam is the second-largest religion in France. Most of France's four million Muslims are residents of North African origin, about half of them French citizens."Islam can be a stabilizing element in French society," pronounces the left-winger Chevenement. You can only gasp at the scale of this monumental stupidity!
The decadent political salons of Paris and Berlin are incapable of resisting Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. Don Rumsfeld has it right when he dismisses them as the "Old Europe." The sooner the US treats the New Europe as the political centre the sooner France and Germany can be allowed to retreat into further historical irrelevance.