If John McCain is elected president in eight months, he may find that in his strong suit - national security - he has more friends around the other major democracies than any president in modern history. As I noted in an article at the beginning of the year, The Conservative Tide in Major Democracies, political parties that are generally friendly to America have been winning elections and wresting control of governments that had been unfriendly to America in Germany, Canada and France.
Merkel, Harper and Sarkozy make life much easier for any president intent on protecting the free world from global terrorism and ensuring the survival of Israel than did their Leftist predecessors. Although Merkel and Harper both have minority governments, both of these bright leaders govern skillfully, and polls show both are much more personally popular than their nearest Leftist rival.
The CDU/CSU in Germany currently has a six percentage point leader over the SDP, and the lead has been as high as twelve points a few weeks ago. Merkel, the leader of the CDU/CSU is much more personally popular than her party, which means that in an election the CDU/CSU would do better than the generic partisan polls indicate. That means the SDP is highly unlikely to do anything to require a Bundestag election, which would leave the CDU/CSU with a much larger plurality than it has now.
Harper in Canada has seen his Conservative Party rise and fall, but the most recent poll shows the Conservative Party with a solid six point lead over the Liberal Party. On March 4th, the federal budget was approved with none of the Liberal Party members voting. The strong showing of the Conservative Party in Canada, compared with the other four parties in Canada, means that the Afghan mission should be approved, a major security issue for America. Why? There is a certainty that Conservatives would at least hold their own in Parliament and a possibility that Conservatives could actually gain a majority in Parliament - no politician on the Left wants to risk that. Harper, like Merkel, is also more popular than his party, which makes Conservative gains even more likely.
Sarkozy is now unpopular, but given the French system of government, that does not matter. President Sarkozy has six years to do pretty much what he wants and all that is required is political courage, something the French President has in abundance. The changes he wants for France will hurt and will take time; in the meantime, our friend in Paris will direct the foreign and national security policies of France.
Soon America may have another ally with a conservative head of government. In the early days of the Iraq War, Silvia Berlusconi was an outspoken friend of America (Italy had the third largest military contingent in Iraq, after America and Britain). When he lost a narrow election in May 2006, America lost a friend in Europe. Berlusconi is the narrow favorite to win on April 13 and April 14. If he wins, then the head of government in three of the four largest democracies in Europe will be pro-American conservatives.
Gordon Brown, a protÃ©gÃ©e of Tony Blair, has been decent as a prime minister. But his party is still anti-American. Our natural political ally in Britain has been the Conservative Party, the party of Margaret Thatcher. The current leader of the opposition, David Cameron, is very bright and also very quirky. His party, however, has remained distinctly more pro-American than the Labour Party.
Cameron has also taken some quick jabs at multiculturalism, with the obvious target the Islamization of London and other parts of the United Kingdom. Currently the Tories have an eleven point lead over Labour in election polls. Although Brown may be able to limp along without a general election, his position as a prime minister who was appointed by party pals and not the voters of Great Britain, along with his massive unpopularity, may lead to back benchers bringing down the government (and, probably, bring Cameron in as head of a Conservative government). Although a Cameron win would be a mixed blessing (he is off the reservation on some issues), in a cabinet government other conservative leaders would have much influence and a more conservative Parliament would be a welcome change in many areas from decades of Labour socialism.
What would all this mean for America and Israel? When the major civilized democracies have governments whose parties and leaders are helping us and publicly supporting us, a president who truly does know the world and who has the confidence of our soldiers, like McCain, can gain ground and hold ground against those who hate us and who would destroy us. The continuing conservative tide in major democracies is a high trump card that an old hawk like McCain can use well.