When presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama commanded an estimated crowd of 200,000 in Germany last week, the message was clear. Despite the attacks on his crazy preacher, his Muslim-sounding name, his inexperience, his liberalism, and his wife's attitude, the thousands standing in Berlin for Obama only cared about one thing — he's not President George W. Bush.
Like Germany, the rest of Europe, Asia, Africa, and indeed the entire world agrees with Obama: the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq was a mistake and continuing the mistake is as dangerous as it is unacceptable.
Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki agrees with Obama and says it's time for the U.S. to leave.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, on the other hand, is staking his campaign on the notion that the U.S. must remain in Iraq to help the unstable country, echoing Bush's message of "stay the course."
But while Obama draws thousands in Berlin, McCain is virtually non-existent in the German media. For war-weary Europe, McCain is worse than wrong — he's useless.
How can Bush Republicans ignore a foreign policy reality that everyone else, not merely some, but everyone seems to realize? Republican talk radio says Obama's popularity overseas is simply a reflection of the big government socialism Europe has become accustomed to. Talk host Sean Hannity even said that Germans have long been attracted to charismatic personalities, implying that Obama's appeal was more fuhrer than philosophical. Nonsense.
If the relatively non-charismatic Texas Congressman Ron Paul — an anti-socialist if there ever was one — was speaking overseas as the Republican presidential nominee, he would likely draw crowds comparable to Obama. Why? Because he wants to end the Iraq occupation. If the relatively charismatic Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who supports every big government program imaginable including socialized health care, were speaking overseas as the Democratic presidential nominee, his presence would likely be as dismal as McCain's. Why? Because he wants to continue the U.S. occupation of Iraq indefinitely.
Despite their spin attempts, Republicans have one group, and one group only, to blame for Obama's global popularity — the neoconservatives.
Author John McGowan has this to say about the philosophy of the neocons, a group who was virtually unknown to most Americans a decade ago, but who became well known thanks to the Bush White House: "Neoconservatism emphasizes foreign policy as the paramount responsibility of government, maintaining that America's role as the world's sole superpower is indispensable to establishing and maintaining global order."
When Bush, Cheney, and company decided to exploit outrage in the wake of 9/11 by redirecting that anger toward a nation, as Pat Buchanan notes, "that did not threaten us, did not want war with us, and did not attack us," this administration committed arguably one of the worst foreign policy blunders in American history.
There is no victory in Iraq, only prolonged defeat. Obama knows it, Iraq knows it, and the entire world knows it. Only Bush Republicans remain in the dark.
The neoconservative vision of the U.S. military as the world's policeman, forever spreading democracy at gunpoint, has been thoroughly discredited. Europe naturally flocks to any American who might reverse course. That some Republicans would dare compare Obama's appeal in Germany to Hitler is particularly ironic, considering that the rest of the world already ascribes messianic, dictatorial qualities to Bush on a regular basis.
If Republicans want to know why Obama is being received so well in Europe, they need to look no further than their own president and his yes men. GOP propagandists like Hannity can pretend that Europe is simply attracted to the Illinois senator because he's a "socialist," when Obama's popularity is actually more of a reaction to the neocon scoundrels who constitute the guest line up on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes on any given evening.
It's absurd to insist on using the U.S. military to police the world and then acting surprised or disgusted when the world dares to offer an opinion on it.
And it's only natural that when the neocon global cops have proven themselves completely incompetent, that in desperation, Europeans would be enthusiastic about the possibility of a new sheriff.
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the "Morning Buzz with Richard Todd" on 1250 AM WTMA.