BERLIN. — President Bush has found a powerful kindred spirit in Europe. In a signed editorial headlined “Europe — thy name is cowardice,” the CEO of Germany’s publishing giant Axel Springer, Mathias Dopfner, wrote, “Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore nearly 500,000 victims of Saddam’s torture and murder machinery and, motivated by the self-righteousness of the peace movement, has the gall to issue bad grades to George Bush.
“I wish I were joking,” said the conservative chief executive of 150 newspapers and magazines in 27 countries, “but … a substantial fraction of [the German] government, and if the polls are to be believed, the German people actually believe that creating an official state ‘Muslim holiday’ will somehow spare us from the wrath of the fanatical Islamists.”
Recalling Neville Chamberlain waving “the laughable treaty signed by Adolf Hitler and declaring European ‘Peace in our time,” Mr. Dopfner asked, “What else has to happen before the European public and its political leadership get it?” He said there “an especially perfidious crusade” under way that consists of “systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims, focused on civilians, directed against our free, open Western societies, and intent upon Western Civilization’s utter destruction.”
“It is a conflict,” Mr. Dopfner continued, “that will most likely last longer than any of the great military conflicts of the last century — a conflict conducted by an enemy that cannot be tamed by ‘tolerance’ and ‘accommodation’ but is actually spurred on by such gestures, which have proven to be, and will always be taken by the Islamists for signs of weakness. Only two recent American presidents had the courage needed for anti-appeasement: Reagan and Bush (43).”
Mr. Dopfner’s editorial stood out in a near-unanimous anti-Bush media in Europe and the rest of the world. “[Bush’s] American critics may quibble over the details, but we Europeans know the truth. We saw it first hand: Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, freeing half of the German people from nearly 50 years of terror and virtual slavery. And Bush, supported only by the Social Democrat Tony Blair, acting on moral conviction, recognized the danger in the Islamic War against Democracy. His place in history will have to be evaluated after a number of years have passed.
“In the meantime, Europe sits back with charismatic self-confidence in the multicultural corner, instead of defending liberal society’s values and being an attractive center of power on the same playing field as the true great powers, America and China.
“On the contrary. We Europeans present ourselves, in contrast to those ‘arrogant Americans,’ as the World Champions of ‘tolerance.’ … Why? Because we’re so moral? I fear it’s more because we’re so materialistic, so devoid of a moral compass.
“For his policies, Bush risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of additional national debt, and a massive and persistent burden on the American economy — because unlike almost all of Europe, Bush realizes what’s at stake — literally everything.
“While we criticize the ‘capitalist robber barons’ of America because they seem too sure of their priorities, we timidly defend our Social Welfare systems. Stay out of it. It could get expensive. We’d rather discuss reducing our 35-hour workweek or our dental coverage, or our four weeks of paid vacation. … Or listen to TV pastors preach about the need to ‘reach out to terrorists. To understand and forgive.’
“These days, Europe reminds me of an old woman who, with shaking hands, frantically hides her last pieces of jewelry when she notices a robber breaking into a neighbor’s house.
“Appeasement? Europe, thy name is Cowardice. God Bless the Americans. God Bless America.”
Richard Kohn, a military historian who holds the Omar Bradley chair of strategic leadership at the Army War College, says, “The real problem is that the Bush administration has repeatedly cast this struggle in apocalyptic terms that don’t fit the historical facts, and set up strawmen like ‘appeasers’ to knock down, even though no one is talking about negotiating with the terrorists. That has dismayed and alienated many of our allies and played into the hands of the terrorists. … The Bush administration succumbed to its own rhetoric and subordinated the strategy to military initiatives and pre-emption, confusing the rest of the world and blinding the public to the true nature of the threat.”
Two diametrically opposed viewpoints on the war on terror. The Bush take on Iraq has found an important convert in Europe. But it is losing many of its original converts in the U.S.
Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.