October 18, 2004

Targeted yet lethal

Steyn, more great stuff, with an appreciation of John Howard...

...But Howard, for a man routinely described as having no charisma, manages to hit just the right tone. The French got all the attention in the days after September 11 with that Le Monde headline – "Nous sommes tous Americains" – but even at the time I preferred Howard's take: "There's no point in a situation like this being an 80 per cent ally."

You can take that one to the bank. The "we are all Americans" stuff turned out to be not quite as straightforward as at first glance, and masked a ton of nuance, evasion, sly Yank-bashing and traditional Gallic duplicitousness as ripe as an old camembert wrapped in Dominique de Villepin's poetry. Even when they were touting that headline, the French were never more than 34 per cent allies.

By comparison, that ABC radio interview three years ago where Howard did the 80 per cent riff is brimming with great material. I especially liked this bit: "I'm sure the Americans will behave in a targeted yet lethal fashion."

Lovely line. If this war really were made in Hollywood, that would be the poster tag: Targeted yet lethal. And it works better in Howard's blunt, commonsensical voice than it would in Blair's strangulated reading-the-lesson-at-Princess-Di's-memorial vowels or Bush's Euro-infuriating Texan drawl...

The reactionaries cling to the idea of France and Germany as "allies," partly because they just don't want to admit that that era, their era, is over.

But really, think about who you'd want to have with you in your foxhole, when the bullets are flying?

Posted by John Weidner at October 18, 2004 8:21 PM
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