Iraq: Situation Improving
By Bruce Walker
August 27, 2007
Although it is now all but conceded that the military surge in Iraq is working and that al-Qaeda is no longer welcome among the otherwise feuding groups of Sunni, Shia and Kurds that make up Iraq, that surge is only part of the very good news in Iraq and in the Middle East. Recall back when the war in Iraq began? What was the big issue on every pundit's mind? America, except for Britain and a few smaller countries, was going it alone.
President Chirac and Chancellor Schroeder were openly cavorting with President (dictator?) Putin in an effort to place Europe squarely in opposition to our war against Saddam Hussein. Three years ago, I predicted in an article that all this would change. Time was on the side of President Bush. Chirac and Schroeder were simply insufferable anti-Americans who would do anything to weaken us almost anywhere.
I predicted, long before it happened and even when under the Basic Law of Germany it appeared potentially impossible, that Angela Merkel, the Christian Democrat leader of the German right, would be the next Chancellor of Germany. Within a year she was, and almost immediately the attitude of the German coalition government changed.
Although Merkel is not about to commit troops to Iraq, she is very helpful in many other ways. She is not critical of American's role in Iraq. When the Chancellor traveled to Israel earlier this year, Palestinian leaders complained that she was more pro-Israel than the Israelis. This strong support by a leader of the largest economy in Europe helps politically and diplomatically both America and Israel in their parallel and respective wars.
Moreover, public opinion polls in Germany show Merkel is very popular and that if an election were held today, not only would the Christian Democrat Party win a resounding plurality, but would come very close to being able to form a coalition with the Free Democrat Party (the next most conservative party in Germany), which would strengthen her hand immensely.
Now France has come to be prominently and actively involved in helping the Iraqis form a stable government. Sarkozy, the unabashed pro-American, is moving fast to help France play a constructive role in Iraq and in the Middle East in general. In that regard, France can do a great deal. It has historic ties in the region, especially in Syria and Lebanon. French pressure on Syria to stop harboring terrorists and to leaving Lebanon alone would make violence much more difficult in northern Iraq and along the Golan Heights.
Moreover, France and Germany can certainly do more to help in the NATO mission in Afghanistan, both materially and militarily. Winning that war will help stabilize Pakistan and also create more reasons for caution in Iran.
Sarkozy is extraordinarily popular in France today, and he can - and probably will - do even more than Merkel is able to do. His moves to control violent Islam in France and to promote a less violent Islam, and such innovations as paying illegal Moslem immigrants to leave France are welcome and timely steps to stop the radical Islamization of Europe.
Stephen Harper in Canada, whose Conservative Party continues to run pretty consistently ahead of the opposition parties, is also sounding much more sympathetic to Israel and is not criticizing the American war in Iraq as his odious predecessor ChrÃ©tien did out of possible bribery and also out of reflexive anti-Americanism.
The collective effect of these three election victories which I predicted for pro-American, conservative governments in Germany, France and Canada is like a second surge - a diplomatic and political surge - which is peaking just about the same time as the military surge. The democracies are increasingly on offense and not on defense. It is less likely today than five years ago that radical Islam can fracture the free, democratic West into disunity.
If Kerry was running against Bush right now, Kerry could not credibly claim that a number of foreign leaders in the democracies wanted him, rather than Bush, to be President. He might, however, be able to claim that the mullahs of Iran, President for Life Assad, and the leaders of Hezbollah and Hamas wanted him to beat Bush.
If the surge works as well as it seems it will, perhaps President Bush should try to arrange a summit involving Germany, Italy, France, Britain, Canada, and Japan to agree on a long term, combined plan to help with financial, diplomatic and limited special forces to make Iraq into a viable and free democracy over the long haul. All those nations have a strong interest in that result. If that summit took place just as American troops began coming home, the political effects in America would be profound.
Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.