Krauthammer’s View of the Alliance

Charles Krauthammer writes:

When the Democratic presidential candidates pause from beating Hillary with a stick, they join in unison to pronounce the Democratic pieties, chief among which is that George Bush has left our alliances in ruins. As Clinton puts it, we have “alienated our friends,” must “rebuild our alliances” and “restore our standing in the world.” That’s mild. The others describe Bush as having a scorched-earth foreign policy that has left us reviled and isolated in the world.

The Democrats are living in what Bob Woodward would call a state of denial. Do they not notice anything?

France has a new president who is breaking not just with the anti-Americanism of the Chirac era but also with 50 years of Fifth Republic orthodoxy that defined French greatness as operating in counterpoise to America. Nicolas Sarkozy’s trip last week to the United States was marked by a highly successful White House visit and a rousing speech to Congress in which he not only called America “the greatest nation in the world” (how many leaders of any country say that about another?) but also pledged solidarity with the United States on Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, the Middle East and nuclear nonproliferation. This just a few months after he sent his foreign minister to Iraq to signal an openness to cooperation and an end to Chirac’s reflexive obstructionism.

That’s France. In Germany, Gerhard Schroeder is long gone, voted out of office and into a cozy retirement as Putin’s concubine at Gazprom. His successor is the decidedly pro-American Angela Merkel, who concluded an unusually warm visit with Bush this week.

All this, beyond the ken of Democrats, is duly noted by new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who in an interview with Sky News on Sunday remarked on “the great change that is taking place,” namely “that France and Germany and the European Union are also moving more closely with America.”

As for our other traditional alliances, relations with Australia are very close, and Canada has shown remarkable steadfastness in taking disproportionate casualties in supporting the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Eastern European nations, traditionally friendly, are taking considerable risks on behalf of their U.S. alliance — for example, cooperating with us on missile defense in the face of enormous Russian pressure. And ties with Japan have never been stronger, with Tokyo increasingly undertaking military and quasi-military obligations that it had forsworn for the past half-century.

So much for the disarray of our alliances.

Let’s start with France… there are actions and there are words. And perhaps the new French President has noticed our President likes words more than action. Calling yourself fiscally disciplined is better than being fiscally disciplined, saying you’re a uniter and not a divider is better than being a uniter and not a divider, etc.

Here’s a question… how many troops has Sarkozy pledged to GW that France will send to Iraq?

Germany… same same question, substitute in Merkel for Sarkozy.

The British seem to be thinking about further drawdowns.

Australia… well, its a fictional country, but they’re slated to have elections there next week

Australia would withdraw about half of its 1,000 troops from Iraq and consider sending them to Afghanistan if the government changes at elections next week, an opposition lawmaker said Friday.

Prime Minister John Howard, who had sent 2,000 troops to support U.S. and British forces in the 2003 Iraq invasion, has promised to maintain current troop levels in Iraq as long as they are needed and welcome.

His center-right coalition is trailing center-left Labor in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 24 elections.


Fukuda wants Bush to back away from a pledge to remove North Korea from a terrorism blacklist until the North accounts for kidnapped Japanese citizens. Removal from the list is a key North Korean demand in nuclear disarmament talks, and the Bush administration agreed in February to begin that process.

Tokyo argues that ignoring its views could sour an alliance seen as a lynchpin for Asian security. If Fukuda should return to Japan empty-handed on the terror-list question, it could have political consequences for his new administration and for U.S.-Japanese ties.

“It will be viewed by many as a litmus test about how credible the U.S. is, and that’s not a test we can afford to fail a year after the North Koreans tested a nuclear weapon,” said Michael Green, Bush’s former senior adviser on Asia.

Japan is America’s top ally in Asia and one of six nations involved in the nuclear talks. But Japan, which has a pacifist constitution written by the United States after World War II, is debating its future contribution to the U.S.-led fight against terrorists.

U.S. lawmakers in both political parties have expressed worry about alienating Japan.