Monday, May 7, 2007

McCain and the French Connection

Let me preface this article with the cliche: "Politics makes strange bedfellows". Now that this thought is in your mind's eye, listen closely.

Over the weekend, the French did something remarkable. For years now, the United States has enjoyed a bit of fun insulting our French allies as little more than cheese eating surrender monkeys. We chortle over the French's inability to grasp the big picture, and all the while they revel in how mighty the Euro is to the US Dollar. Their historic ego in full tilt under President Chirac, they enjoyed a few laughs as their socialist system and grande European Union was burying the American Spirit. Chirac, a conservative in name only, was at the tail end of a 25 year old dynasty of America bashing. Something had to give.

The election in France should have been a socialist slam dunk, but quite the contrary occurred. Nicolas Sarcozy, the son of Hungarian immigrants, was elected over the socialist, Segolene Royal. Where Chirac was very much Anti-American, Sarcozy ran on a platform that included a stronger relationship with the US. The message resonated with the French, and he was elected by a wide margin.

Flip back a few years to the German election for Chancellor. It was a squeaker, but Angela Merkel won over Gerhard Schroeder, another Old World leader drunk with anti-American banter. Merkel has worked to restore relations with America.

What does all of this have to do with McCain? Last week, John McCain spoke of a “League of Democracies". He called the idea “the core of an international order of peace based on freedom” in a speech at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

McCain finds new leadership in Old Europe. In Britain, Tony Blair is stepping down to a party successor, Gordon Brown. France and Germany have recently switched leadership, and many in the EU do not want animus between the two greatest economic and political systems in the history of man. The new faces in power in Europe might be open to the idea of a League of Democracies, one that shows the world that a democratic and free society is the key to economic and social equality. The time is ripe for such an endeavor, and here, you have a candidate actually laying out a long term strategy for peace, not just platitudes and soundbites. With new leadership in our old democratic allies, we have an opportunity in the next few years to change course for the better, or continue down a path of "us versus them".

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