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November 12, 2007

If America’s Image Is So Bad, Why Do Pro-Americans Like Sarkozy Keep Getting Elected?


It was by watching America grow that men and women understood that freedom was possible. What made America great was her ability to transform her own dream into hope for all mankind.


No, these are not the words of Ronald Reagan. Nor are they the words of George W. Bush, Abraham Lincoln or George Washington. They are the words of the current president of France.


Bill Clinton last week was the latest to jump on the bandwagon of top Democrats suggesting that electing Hillary Clinton, or another liberal president, would be the only way for America to repair its image with the world.


Of course, the idea of repairing America’s image assumes that America’s image in the world is broken, which is now an unquestioned fact in the eyes of Democratic leaders. But how true is that assumption?


Probably nothing provides a better manifestation of America’s supposedly broken relations with the world than the deterioration in U.S./French relations during the debate over the invasion of Iraq.


Former French President Jacques Chirac had, among other missteps, passionately opposed the toppling of his old personal friend, Saddam Hussein. Chirac had also threatened Eastern European countries with exclusion from the European Union for being pro-American, and sent his foreign minister to Africa to lobby those nations on the U.N. Security Council to vote against the United States.


Of course, congressional Democrats blamed Bush’s alleged lack of tact in diplomacy and international relations for the resultant damaged relations with the French. How would the world respond to Bush’s behavior, they thought?


Enter Nicolas Sarkozy. Here is a man who not only did not hide his pro-American sentiments during his candidacy for the French Presidency, but who proudly, loudly and clearly declared his admiration of America and American ideals. A few months ago, the French put him in charge of their country, and it wasn’t even close.


Less than two years before, the Germans had thrown Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, Chirac’s partner in the anti-American crusade, out of office, replacing him with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel was no closet pro-American either, and the Germans fully knew of her leanings. She had also spoken in support of the invasion of Iraq, and has stood by the United States against Iran.


Less than two years ago, Bill Clinton himself stood with former Canadian Minister Paul Martin, and the two proceeded to jointly criticize the U.S. administration. The next month, Canadians kicked Martin out and replaced him with Stephen Harper, a pro-American conservative. Martin had run much of his campaign based on condemnation of Harper’s friendship with the United States. Prime Minister Harper now owes him a big one.


It is no coincidence that all of these pro-American leaders tend to be conservative. The United States has in the past few years spread a message of capitalism, free trade and strong opposition to terror. Also, America now bases much of its foreign policy on the concept of spreading democracy to countries who need it. Conservatives are attracted to such ideas.


Many other democracies have elected or re-elected pro-American or conservative governments in the last four years. These include those who play some of the most important roles in our international relations, including in Western and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and South America.


One year ago, the Swedes elected the first conservative government in the better part of a century. Portugal has elected the first conservative president in over 30 years. Greece recently ended a long era of left-wing rule.


The Colombians have elected a president who is highly cooperative with the United States (curiously, congressional Democrats will still not approve a free trade agreement with Colombia for political reasons). Mexico elected a friend of America as president, although his opponent, as in France, Germany and Canada, attempted to use this quality against him.


Britain of course is still led by the Labour Party, but has seen pro-American Tony Blair get replaced with a possibly more pro-American Gordon Brown, who, by the way, is quite concerned about the Conservative Party winning the next elections.


This global trend of electing conservative, pro-American governments is due to the kind of solid foreign policy and leadership that the world had missed during the Clinton years. And except for those leaders whom Bill Clinton aids in criticizing the United States, such as Canada’s rejected Martin, leaders of democracies today are friends who are reaching out to us in a manner we have not seen in a long time. These are leaders with whom we are happy to work, regardless of disagreements.


Our relations with the world are not broken. When Sarkozy spoke in Congress last week, he was met with a series of standing ovations and a room full of smiling U.S. legislators who came out unanimously optimistic about the state of Franco-American relations.


When Chirac first addressed Congress in 1996 during the Clinton presidency, only about 100 members were present, because others were so upset with Chirac that they boycotted his speech. Talk about broken relations – good thing President Bush was here to repair them.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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