04 April 2009

The Voice of the People?

The scene shifted to Strasbourg this weekend as President Obama and other European leaders moved from London to hold a NATO summit. The occasion is noteworthy for France's return to full membership, more than 40 years after Charles de Gaulle pulled the country out as a gesture of independence from U.S. hegemony. Also this weekend, Albania and Croatia were welcomed into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It sounds silly but NATO has always been primarily an anti-Russian alliance and it remains so today.

Wherever the leaders of the world gather, so long as it's part of the "free" world, protesters gather. At Strasbourg, the protest got ugly and devolved into arson.

I understand that people have grievances and are angry, and are even more angry and aggrieved at the fact that they can't get in the faces of the world leaders the way they'd like. But if they hope to be taken seriously by anyone else they should take pains to make sure their protests don't end up looking like tantrums. Tactics like traffic obstruction, which were tried today, make a better impression than burning stuff. How many people watching news anywhere on earth had their consciousness raised by seeing a hotel burn?

But I suppose I should cut the Europeans some slack. It may be regrettable that they form mobs and burn things, but compared to other options that may be a healthy channel for their youthful rage. The American alternative too often seems to be shooting innocent strangers.

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