Berlusconi Understood America

I paid with two death sentences for the privilege of calling the American flag my own, and I am determined to wear that flag pin proudly until the end of my life.

“I decided I won’t wear that [flag] pin on my chest,” announced Senator Barack Obama, at that time a young Democratic contender for the White House, on October 3, 2007. “Instead, I’m going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testament to my patriotism.” The next day, his campaign explained what being a patriot meant: “Speaking honestly with the American people about this disastrous war [in Iraq].” Senator Obama labeled that war an apocalyptic mistake and called for the unconditional withdrawal of our troops. After also asking for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, the late Democratic Congressman John Murtha, at that time chairman of the House Apropriations Defense Subcommittee, solemnly told the Washington Times: “All of Iraq must know Iraq is free -- free from United States’ occupation.”

Competition is, indeed, the engine of progress, and our presidential elections are one of the best expressions of free competition. But the war in Iraq was not the president’s war. It was America’s war, authorized by 296 House members and 76 senators. Americans are patriotic. Millions of them have started their lives from scratch -- as I did -- for the privilege of becoming citizens of this great country, and no one wants to see America lose again. The Vietnam War was one humiliation too many.

Berlusconi fully understood that. In 2005, when our own Democratic Party focused almost exclusively on condemning the U.S. for its war in Iraq, Berlusconi published an 800-word letter in the highbrow conservative daily newspaper Il Foglio calling for Italy to remain a "loyal and respectful ally" of the United States. Italy agreed.

Michael Ledeen is now teaching us another lesson: Respect those who respect the United States and honor its flag. Do not abandon your allies. Ledeen is once again right on the money. During the decades I spent scrutinizing the U.S. from Europe, I learned that international respect for America is directly proportional to America’s respect for itself and for its allies.