- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 12, 2004

There weren’t many applause lines for Europeans attending the American Enterprise Institute’s annual dinner at the Washington Hilton Tuesday night.

Diplomats, political economists and other guests from European nations sat stony-faced at their tables, looking particularly uncomfortable as keynote speaker Charles Krauthammer, this year’s winner of the AEI Irving Kristol Award, made an impassioned case for the use of American might to stop terrorism and enforce global order.

“What stability we have is owed to the power and deterrent threat of the United States … America is the land mine between barbarism and civilization,” the nationally syndicated columnist said before calling Europe a “lazy, arrogant community” and the European Union model of cooperation by treaties “an illusion.”

Envoys from the “lazy, arrogant” states definitely were not impressed.

Dutch Ambassador Boudewijn van Eenennaam took issue with America’s willingness to go it alone in the pursuit of “democratic globalism” as outlined by Mr. Krauthammer.

“If one country has to be the mightiest in the world, let’s be glad it is the United States,” Mr. van Eenennaam said with diplomatic finesse, “but if a better world order is to be built, the comparative advantages of other countries have to be taken into account as well, especially as far as nation building, fighting terrorism, economic development and the environment are concerned.”

Claudia Fritsche, ambassador of Liechtenstein, said her country could “never accept” the notion of unilateralism.

“I consider multilateralism a cornerstone of any foreign policy. Small countries like Liechtenstein without any military force and defense agreements have to rely on the rule of law, which happens to be defined within multilateral organizations of which we are all members,” she said.

A few Europeans agreed with Mr. Krauthammer’s speech. Not too surprisingly, they came from the ranks of America’s foremost ally.

“I don’t like it,” said one British-born guest who asked not to be named, “but I think he’s right.”

Mr. Krauthammer’s provocative remarks also got the attention of President Bush’s head speechwriter, Michael Gerson. “They usually have some boring economist,” he said.

Vice President Dick Cheney focused his remarks on the Pulitzer Prize-winning guest of honor, whom he introduced as “a man I admire very much and am proud to call a friend.”

“This is not a columnist who merely fills space and meets deadlines. Charles Krauthammer always writes with care,” Mr. Cheney said. “His great intelligence is guided by principle and an understanding of the world as it is.”

Mr. Krauthammer, who was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair after a 1972 accident, told the vice president, “I’m honored by your presence here, especially during duck-hunting season.” (Justice Antonin Scalia, it should be noted, was not among the guests.)

He also commended Mr. Cheney’s performance despite heavy criticism in the press.

“If Hamlet had borne half the slings and arrows you have, it would have been a very short play,” Mr. Krauthammer said.

As usual, a sizable contingent of Washington’s power elite turned out for the event, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist; Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton; Sen. Jon Kyl, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security; Richard Perle, an AEI fellow and former chairman of the Defense Policy Board; and former Sen. Fred Thompson (now also with AEI).

A noticeable number of younger staffers and policy wonks also were sighted in the 1,500-strong black-tie-clad crowd. All appeared to be rather well-paid; several guests remarked on the number of twentysomethings they had seen wearing expensive clothing and accessories.

Everyone waited democratically after being seated, subsisting on soon-devoured bowls of cocktail nuts for about 90 minutes until dinner (soup, salad, beef tenderloin, tarte tatin) was served after the conclusion of Mr. Krauthammer’s speech.

“They wanted to make sure we paid attention,” one guest said with a laugh.

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