Top 10 Letters
The French, Solzhenitsyn, light rail, Venezuela, and more.
11:00 PM, Mar 16, 2003
THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.
Here is some more simplistic thinking for David Brooks (The Certainty Crisis): I voted for George W. Bush. When I did, I expected him to swear to protect and defend the Constitution (and thus, me and my family) against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I did not and do not want or expect him to obtain the permission of France, Russia, China, the United Nations, or anyone else before he takes action in regard to his oath of office. The day he does is the day I find another candidate.
It is interesting the media frenzy over the French (Fred Barnes, Taking the French at Their Word). I would say that most of the critics on either side have never been to the other country.
The French have adopted many things American, such as the "Supremarche," McDonalds, American movies--the list is long. The list of French products accepted in the United States is long but perhaps the most profound influence by France on America is the language, as expressed by British Foreign Minister Jack Straw when in response to his French counterpart, he called England an "old country founded by the French in 1066".
The fact is that France is the number one tourist destination in the world. What is it that so many people find so compelling about a visit to France? I would suggest that Barnes go there and find out.
About the supposed rudeness of the French to foreigners: I did feel this way the first time I lived in France, but of course I spent most of my time with Americans. The truth is that if you make any attempt to speak their language, the average Frenchman will go out of his way to help.
So the problem is not people but politics. Try to imagine America 300 hundred years from now when China or some other "truly large" country is the super power. How will the Americans play their role on the world stage? Remember, France was the most powerful country in the world before America became a country. Do they wish to have an impact on world affairs? Of course.
The United States has wisely chosen to remain muted in its reaction to French efforts to stir the pot of world power politics, but make no mistake, what we are seeing today is a worldwide reaction to American preeminence, not support for Saddam Hussein.
In Hugh Hewitt's presentation of some of Solzhenitsyn's remarks, he might have at least given The Daily Standard's readers some idea of what Solzhenitsyn is actually saying (Solzhenitsyn, Again). Looks to me like once you get past the intellectual gobbledygook and metaphysical whining, his speech looks like little more than an attack on democratic processes. Besides that, some of his statements are objectively false, at least as a description of the United States.
Solzhenitsyn talks about a lack of political "courage" that democracies show. In fact few Americans--or their leaders--lack courage when it comes to defending our nation. Someone should remind Solzhenitsyn, in case he's forgotten, that Americans certainly did not lack courage during the Second World War, nor during the Cold War. Americans are dealing with terrorists and terrorism now and have been for some time. Again, imperfectly, but we do not shrink from the important jobs.
Also, the Solzhenitsyn speech showed a striking lack of understanding about basic democratic processes. He seems not to understand that when it comes to the fact that public policy in a democracy involves the input of citizens and their representatives, many of whom tend to disagree on the best ways of carrying out foreign policy.
Solzhenitsyn is unhappy with what he likes to call "democratic restraints." Democratic "restraints" he says, keep chief executives from doing good deeds. Does he not know that restraints on the prerogatives of chief executives are one of the hallmarks of democracy? Citizens, congresses, and parliaments restrain executive authority because that is what citizens want.
One gets the impression that Solzhenitsyn's views constitutional democracy as little more than a retrograde movement meant to prevent the accomplishment of what he calls "good deeds" by chief executives.
--Carl W. Goss