- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 27, 2001

God bless America

He may be a European diplomat, but Alexandr Vondra is as red, white and blue as the most patriotic American.

The Czech ambassador's monthly column in the Czech Embassy newsletter regularly extols the virtues of American idealism and has none of the highhanded huffiness of European critics of the United States.

In his latest column, Mr. Vondra comments on America's peculiar position as the world's only superpower. The trend he sees is the "Americanization of the world and the globalization of America."

Mr. Vondra dismisses European criticism of issues such as global warming, land mines and missile defense. He also notes what he calls a paradox between American lawyers concluding a deal with Germany to compensate the victims of Nazi slave-labor camps and the U.N. Human Rights Commission expelling the United States in the same month.

"Perhaps more than anything else, this paradox illustrates the confusion in the ongoing debate about America's role in today's world," he said.

"It is true that America has become a primary target of criticism — the European diplomats in Washington are no exception, as I witness almost daily."

"Now," he added, "almost every anti-American critic has positioned himself as an expert on the environment, defense or human rights."

However, he said, the German compensation deal "was only possible due to the peculiarities of the U.S. legal system."

"The theory of global warming came from American universities. The Nobel Peace Prize awarded for a campaign to ban land mines went to a woman from Vermont. The mutual assured destruction theory and ABM (anti-ballistic missile) Treaty, which are sacrosanct to missile-defense opponents, were written in the Pentagon decades ago," he said.

"The truth is not so simple. A balanced approach advises us that we are witnessing two complementary and mutually reinforcing trends the Americanization of the world and the globalization of America."

Mr. Vondra added that he wanted to "balance the current criticism."

"I would like, on behalf of the Czech victims of Nazi persecution, to thank America for paving the road to their compensation the first one after more than 50 years," he said.

"And also, on behalf of freedom fighters, I hope to see the U.S. regain membership in the commission next year.

"America deserves it, and we need her."

Drawing a crowd

President Bush yesterday swore in Howard Baker as ambassador to Japan, saying he is sending "one of America's most valued statesman to help be the keeper of one of America's most valued friendships."

Mr. Bush recounted Mr. Baker's many roles as a senator from Tennessee, majority leader and minority leader and as a White House chief of staff.

"Sen. Baker, you've drawn quite a crowd here to the White House," Mr. Bush said.

Along with former ambassadors to Japan Mike Mansfield, Walter Mondale and Tom Foley Mr. Bush recognized Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, CIA Director George Tenet, Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, former Secretaries of State Madeleine K. Albright and Lawrence Eagleburger, Japanese Ambassador Shunji Yanai and members of the House and Senate.

"We send the very best people to Japan because the United States has no more important partner in the world than Japan," Mr. Bush said.

"Our alliance is rooted in the vital strategic and economic interests that we share. It is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in Asia. And today, this partnership is helping us tackle global problems, as well."

Mr. Bush said he is looking forward to a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi this weekend at the presidential retreat, Camp David.

Mr. Bush added that he will tell the prime minister that "America's 38th ambassador to Japan is a man of extraordinary ability, grace and good humor."

"In every post he has held, Howard Baker has brought uncommon intelligence and an uncanny ability to calm the ship of state, even in days of crisis," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Baker expressed his gratitude to Mr. Bush to be selected to "speak for this country and to speak for you in Japan."w

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