Bush goes to Europe. He makes nice. Why not? Mark Steyn puts it well. When the stakes are low, the rhetoric is most soaring. This gets lots of media coverage. The media say, Bush is trying to “mend fences”. No. Bush is there for American domestic political consumption. It is all gesture.
Nothing concrete will happen. The Europeans will continue to do everything they were going to do — most importantly, sell arms to China. In other words, say nice words, and act as our enemies when it comes to action. OK, fine. Be like that.
Meanwhile, getting almost no coverage, huge and important changes are afoot on the other side of Eurasia.
Look at this joint statement issued by Japan and the USA. Don’t let the boring diplo-speak fool you. The Japanese are lining up with us on everything important. They are going to become interoperable, see para. 13. They are with us in Middle East, and on Taiwan and on NK. Interestingly , Japan is going to export missile defense technology to the USA. I wonder what they have figured out how to do that we are so far unable to do?
See this summary: “China and North Korea are identified in the review as key threats to Japan’s national security — the first time specific countries have been cited in this fashion.”
So we are deepening and strengthening the “baseball” alliance with Japan. NATO has turned to vapor since the Cold War ended. But the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force is still an excellent Navy. And Japan, still the second biggest economy in the world, is much more serious about military defense because they face real and scary threats. They are now not just on our side, but scared of their neighbors, scared of about ongoing access to Middle East oil, and firmly and seriously on our side.
Extremely clever of the Bush team to have W in Europe mouthing platitudes, and getting all the press coverage, while Rice and Rumsfeld are laying the foundation for Japan to be a regional and global military player, and checkmating China. But the Chicoms and the NKs are watching. China will be deterred because we are speaking with clarity and we are committing resources and gathering allies. This is all good. This is about hard deterrence and hard capabilities.
Don’t be distracted by the tired old vaudeville routine in Europe. The real action is all away from the glare of the lights.
UPDATE Austin Bay, via Instapundit, has different take on this. He rightly points out that “Europe” is not France and that the other European nations do not necessarily follow the French, or Franco-German, line.