Italians, Germans, and British welcomed me and Donna cordially as we traveled through Rome, Florence, Frankfurt, Munich, London, and Bristol the past couple of weeks. Obviously, of course, Americans spending tourist dollars are always pretty well received over there no matter whether NATO relations are warm or chilly, especially when it takes a wad of dollars to acquire the euro or pound as at present. I was reminded, though, how much more there is to bind us together with our cousins across the Atlantic than there is to divide us. Merkel leading Germany and Brown leading the UK are solid allies of the US in resisting Islamic jihadism, as the latter proved last week by staking his job on a close vote for extended detention of terror suspects -- the same day Bush and Congress were unable to get Supreme Court backing for related policies over here.
Weekend headlines after our return to Denver on June 13 had the American President and French President Sarkozy speaking with one voice to warn Iran on nuclear weapons. Before going to Paris, Bush was in Rome (arriving there just as we left), where Prime Minister Berlusconi, another of the right-leaning, pro-US leaders now steering Europe, said at an official ceremony:
Italians... will never forget that this is a country that has sacrificed many lives to save us from totalitarianism, communism, fascism, Nazism, and this is a country that has given us back our dignity and has ensured freedom and well-being for all Italians.
President Bush is an ally who has always helped our country have strong relations with the United States.... I also wish to thank him for all the efforts which he has undertaken during his administration in order to safeguard democracy and freedom.
I thank you very much, Mr. President, for your friendship between the two of us, on a personal level, your friendship shown to our country, and I thank you for the very courageous role that you have always taken as the leader of the most important country in the world, which is able to determine peace and freedom throughout the world.