By Mark Steyn, May 9, 2002
“Jaw-jaw is better than war-war,” said Churchill, and on the whole
he’s right. It’s better to talk to people than to kill them.
That’s why the Europeans are so thrilled to see Yasser Arafat
sprung from his compound in Ramallah. Now he can get a shower
and a shave – well, OK, maybe not a shave – and a change of
bandolier, and get the ‘peace process’ “back on track.”
The Bush Administration was also pleased to see Israel’s ‘partner for
peace’ freed up and his fax line reconnected. And, waddayaknow, at
the very moment the President was discussing this latest hopeful
development with Ariel Sharon at the White House, the ‘peace
process’ did indeed get back on its customary track with the
detonation of a brand new suicide bomber in a pool hall in Rishon
Sixteen dead Israelis, and much joy from the heroic martyr’s
proud parents: “Yasser, that’s my baby! Do we get a cheque from
Saddam? Or the Saudis? Or both?”
Could there be a more heartening sign that the ‘peace process’ is
once again rolling along than the cheery sound of Palestinian baby
kaboomers? All we need now is some guy to lend his name to a new
plan which would open the way to get us back to Tenet, which
would get us back to Mitchell, which would get us back to Wye
River, which would get us back to Oslo, which would get us back to
Kansas. Have I forgotten someone? Zinni? Did he have a plan? Or
was his plan not to have a plan?
On Tuesday, one suicide bomber killed almost as many civilians as
the entire Israeli army did during the notorious Jenin ‘massacre.’
Where are the condemnations from the EU? Where’s the UN
inquiry? Oh, wait, I forgot. When Palestinians kill Israelis, that just
means Israel needs to do more to redouble its efforts to get the
‘peace process’ back on track.
It’s instructive to contrast the eternal forbearance the EU demands of
Israel with their own behaviour.
On Sunday, the French presidential election ended with a result that
the Republic’s establishment claimed had strengthened their
democracy. Can’t quite see it myself.
For a start, president Chirac refused to “jaw-jaw” with his
opponent at all: Why, to debate him would only dignify him! No one
else wanted to “jaw-jaw,” either: Instead, there were large
demonstrations by the left urging people to vote for “the crook, not
the fascist.” To make the street-theatre look a little better on TV,
schools gave their pupils the day off to go and make up the numbers
in a demonstration against a fellow most of them had barely heard
To some of us, there’s always something a little totalitarian
about the state conscripting children in its propaganda efforts, but
Chirac, though undoubtedly the crook, seemed appreciative of these
The media rallied overwhelmingly to his soiled banner. Under
France’s onerous electoral laws, neither candidate is allowed to
campaign on the day before the election, but, in an unprecedented
display of cheerleading, the press urged voters to turn out for
Monsieur Sleaze. Four out of five people voted for “the crook,” but
that still left a fifth of French electors to support a “fascist” who in
any healthy political culture would have been a joke candidate:
putting aside his views, he’s 74 and he’s never held public office.
If an election with only one viable candidate, no debate, a biased
media, a blind eye to corruption, and public demonstrations with
bused-in schoolchildren ‘strengthens’ your democracy, then I’m
moving to Zimbabwe.
The day after the French election attention turned to the
Netherlands. Like President Chirac, Prime Minister Wim Kok had
declared that his principal opponent, Pim Fortuyn, was someone who
was beneath debate.
So on Monday someone shot him dead.
A militant vegan, if reports are to be believed. From across
the North Sea, Tony Blair issued a heartfelt tribute to the first victim
of political assassination in Holland in 350 years: “No matter what
feelings political figures arouse, the ballot box is the place to express
In Rotterdam, voters had done just that: 35% of electors in the
Netherlands’ second largest city had cast their ballots fro Pim
Yet that wasn’t enough to get him a debate with Wim Kok,
and even in death he remained, at least to the grudging Mr. Blair,
beyond the pale (to coin a phrase).
Fortuyn and Le Pen had virtually nothing in common: Le Pen’s
a Vichy nostalgist; Fortuyn was a flamboyant gay sociology
professor, a beneficiary of Dutch liberalism who boasted about the
ethnic diversity of his many lovers. Le Pen’s a left-wing protectionist;
Fortuyn was a Thatcherite on economic issues.
But in the shorthand of European politics both were dismissed
as “extreme”, “hateful” and, of course, “right-wing”.
Mark Kingwell and others have commented in these pages on public
confusion over “right” and “left” labels, but here’s an easy layman’s
guide: “left” is redundant, you never hear it any more; and “right”
just means the side you’re meant to dislike. Diehard Maoist Commies
in Red China are “hardline conservatives” just as much as John
Apart from their mutual antipathy to Muslim immigration, Fortuyn
and Le Pen would have loathed each other.
But they cocked their individual snooks at the pieties of
contemporary Eurofantasy and so they were beyond debate: Mais
non, said Chirac and Blair and Kok, we cannot talk with these men,
no matter how many people vote for them. To engage them would
only legitimize them.
What did either Fortuyn or Le Pen do to deserve having their
voters ignored by the political establishment? Did they fund
terrorism? Did they supply terrorists with weapons and training?
Yasser Arafat has done – is doing – all these things, and yet the
Europeans insist he is their ‘friend’, a legitimate leader, a
constructive ‘partner for peace’, and someone who the Israelis must
keep talking to, no matter how huge the vast mound of corpses
Oh, and as we all know, it’s Ariel Sharon who is “extreme”
and “right-wing”: the side you’re meant to dislike.
European humbug has reached almost deafening levels in the last
few weeks. There’s the Pope’s emissary high-fiving with the
Chairman as he’s liberated from his compound, while back home,
legitimate political leaders who submit themselves to the ballot box
are disdained and then assassinated.
Yasser, of course, has postponed indefinitely his ‘re-election’
campaign, but that doesn’t stop the generous European Union
subsidies which indirectly fund Palestinian suicide bombers.
Smug, intolerant and decadent, continental politics are in an
advanced state of disease. When the establishment is too arrogant to
“jaw-jaw”, “war-war” – or at least massive civil unrest – isn’t too far behind.