The Dutch want Congressman Tom Lantos to apologize for telling the truth. Somehow it’s “Cowboy diplomacy” to rebuke Europeans who look for excuses not to defend Europe.
“Europe was not as outraged by Auschwitz as by Guantanamo Bay,” Lantos recently told a delegation of Dutch politicians who had just visited the U.S. prison holding 330 terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The politicians from the Netherlands were offended that anyone would burst their bubble with a reality check. They were telling Lantos that Holland might withdraw its 1,600 troops from Afghanistan if the U.S. doesn’t close Guantanamo.
That’s when Lantos, a Democrat, told them:
“You have to help us, because if it was not for us you would now be a province of Nazi Germany.”
Outrage in Holland. That was truth overload. The Dutch don’t like to be reminded that the Americans liberated them in 1944 and that the United States has guaranteed their freedom ever since. Some of them might like to think it all happened by accident. In the illusion too many Old Europeans live, they imagine they could have pushed back Hitler, Nazism, Stalin and Soviet Communism all by themselves.
“The comments killed the debate,” Harry van Bommel, member of the Dutch Socialist Party said. “It was insulting and counterproductive.”
The Van Der Galien Gazette blog wants Lantos to say he’s sorry. In fact, Michael Van Der Galien, a Dutch “conservative liberal” who is not anti-American, wants just about everyone in Washington to apologize for Lantos’ comments.
“This is a great example of just why America is so unpopular in European countries right now,” Van Der Galien says. “Granted, there’s a lot of irrational anti-Americanism as well, but these are the kind of comments by which American politicians anger just about every single Europe; whether they’re pro- or anti-America.
“Lantos should apologize, and the Democratic leadership should do so as well. America’s leadership even.
“Funny enough, this is yet another example of Cowboy diplomacy -- from Democrats. As I wrote recently, the Democrats don’t seem to be any better at diplomacy than the Republicans are. If this is the Democratic way of ‘reaching’ out, well, I’m afraid that the hand that’s reaching out will be politely ignored by the world.”
Share the burden. I wish I could agree with Van Der Galien’s conclusion that Europe has a right to be angry with Lantos, but I can’t. Of course, it is rude to remind a rescued ingrate of the debt he owes, even if you don’t demand the debt be repaid in full. However, the Dutch don’t have to thank us, like us or repay us. We expect only that they do their fair share of defending free Europe and its perimeter.
Lantos did employ some ironic hyperbole. Europe probably was more outraged by the Auschwitz death camp (though the Europeans may have complained much less about it at the time). In any case, it was obvious what Lantos meant.
Who’s the bad cowboy here? The Miller gang is coming to make trouble at high noon. Marshal Kane, who had planned to leave town with his bride, is trying instead to gather some local residents as deputies to defend their own community. But the locals say, We’re too busy, you do it, Marshal, it’s your job. Maybe Ayaan Hirsi Ali can help you. Good luck, but we’d rather avoid the unpleasantness.
And oh, yeah, Marshal, we don’t like your jail.
‘Their own Guantanamos.’ In one of the more insightful responses to Van Der Galien’s post, someone named Ion wrote:
“This is also a great example of just why Europe is unpopular in America. You may not like what Lantos said, or how he said it, but you didn’t say he was incorrect.
“When this war finally hits Europe, some will surrender immediately, and the rest will make their own Guantanamos. You can count on it. It’s what they’ve always done.”
Lantos to speak again? Lantos has yet to respond to the furor that followed his words. In fact, I’ve yet to see a news story that spells out exactly where or when Lantos said what he said.
But no, he shouldn’t apologize. His point was right on the mark. Yes, it shook up some people. Sometimes it takes some shaking to wake a friend up.