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ALL THAT HAPPENED IS THAT NOTHING HAPPENED | 2002-09-07

Nothing happened. Europeans are telling us how imperialistic we are and we're back to eating it up, just like we were before September 11.

Last September 11, our "allies" - note that I used quotes then, too - were scared that thousands of dead Americans might make Sweet Old Uncle Turkey furious and therefore dangerous. For a few weeks nobody could decide.

Remember those few weeks after September 11? Nobody else does either.

First we quickly beat the primitive Taliban army. No surprise there. What scared our so-called "allies" was the language Bush used during that brief period.

Right after September 11, Bush said that "anybody who isn't with us was against us." That really sounded ominous. Normally all we ask of anybody is that they take our money and our troops and anything else conservatives and liberals can take from Americans and give to other people.

We hope they will not insult us too loudly after taking what we give them.

So when Bush said "you are with us or against us" it sounded like we had some purely American feelings all of a sudden. Bush for a very short period stopped sounding like the guy who wanted to give everything to Mexico. For a moment it sounded as if "We the People of the United States of America" might actually be capable of some resentment if we were kicked too hard.

That didn't outlast the Afghanistan war.

Everybody on the left, all the people Bush has spent his life trying to please, was taken aback by Bush's saying you were with us or you were against us.

Threatened with a loss of respectability, the Bush Administration began backpedaling. You see, said the State Department, being "with us" differed with each country. You could be "with us," for instance, by accepting our troops on your soil to protect you.

You are "with us," the Bush Administration explained, if you would take what we give you and not insult us too badly in return.

In other words, it was the same old song.

So everybody went back to business as usual.

But things will be worse than usual now, because all those people we crawl to for their good opinions after we save their tails again got scared after September 11. For just a moment, even the Mexicans thought that Bush had turned into some kind of American.

Nobody likes being scared. Especially, nobody likes being scared by a mouse they were momentarily afraid might turn into a lion.

Their brief moment of fear made the international community and American internationalists look silly. They are furious and they will make us pay for it.