Each destination suggests a somewhat more subtle affinity: Britain, playing to our cultural connectedness with the Downton Abbey folks who’ve been at our side in practically every fight for the last hundred years; Poland, representing the “new Europe,” the Central Europeans so unashamedly pro-American [bold mine-DL]; Israel, appealing to most American Jews but also to an infinitely greater number of passionately sympathetic Evangelical Christians.
This is something of a pet peeve, but I can’t believe that there are people still referring to the bankrupt “new Europe” phrase ten years after Rumsfeld first used it. The phrase was nothing more than pro-Iraq war propaganda. It wasn’t a description of a real political divide among the nations of Europe. It was an insult directed at the few European governments that were counseling against an unnecessary and foolish war. The governments that expressed misplaced gratitude to the U.S. for their membership in NATO by lending public support to the invasion of Iraq did not represent Europe, “old” or “new.” While many governments in central and eastern Europe sided with the U.S. in the pre-war debate, they mostly did so out of a desire to show loyalty to the U.S. rather than out of any conviction that the invasion was the right thing to do. Their electorates were solidly against the war from the start, and remained so throughout. Poland understandably soured on close ties with the U.S. when their significant contribution to the Iraq war earned them exactly nothing. Back then, Iraq war supporters weren’t terribly concerned about showing “appreciation for close allies,” whose national interests they generally ignored and whose cooperation they exploited primarily for political purposes at home.
Curiously, Krauthammer recommends that Romney “should say nothing of substance.” This is odd, since it has been a common refrain from some Republican hawks that Romney needs to speak up more on foreign policy and be more detailed in his own proposals. Given Romney’s performance today, perhaps it would be better if he said nothing at all.
Krauthammer revisits the Churchill bust myth, so it’s worth citing this section from Toby Harnden’s column:
The problem with that applause line is that the Jacob Epstein bust was a personal loan from Britain to President George W. Bush made in July 2001 for the duration of his presidency.
When Obama took over from Bush, the loan expired and he apparently showed no interest in extending it. The bust was returned to the Government Art Collection.
The whole issue, which has been used to portray Obama as anti-British, is a sore point for British diplomats, who view it as presumptuous for Romney to assume the bust would be loaned to him [bold mine-DL].
It’s almost as if the fixation on the bust of Churchill were a ridiculous bit of opportunism. Who would have guessed?