Well, first it was Canada and now it's Europe.

President Bush has announced that he is going to Europe early next year to try to mend fences with our recalcitrant friends: the French, the Germans, the Belgians and a few others.

The trip will start with a NATO (search) summit in Brussels, which is the administrative headquarters for the European Union — the French project designed to eventually rival the United States in worldwide influence. That's a joke, but it's also another story best left for another day.

Now, about the president's trip.

When he went to Canada (search), the Canadians — who have spent the years since Sept. 11 kicking us in the teeth — decided he was coming to apologize for the Iraq war. They stood around waiting to hear his apology and when he didn't say I'm sorry they stood around for a few more days wondering if they should accept the apology he didn't make.

You can expect more of same from the Europeans.

Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) was just forced to lecture the Euros over the issue of why some NATO countries — France, Germany, yada, yada, yada — won't allow their NATO troops to go to Iraq on a NATO mission to train Iraqi soldiers.

The French won't allow a French military person to set foot in Iraq. The Germans won't either and the Belgians are too busy making military pralines for the holidays. They won't go.

Powell had to say, guys this is not how NATO is supposed to work. If NATO agrees to send troops somewhere, you're supposed to come along, even if you sulk in your tents.

Nonetheless, Powell also made nice — in a transparently phony way — saying France is an important partner to the U.S., even though we all know it isn't.

Now Bush is going to have to go over there and tell the same little white lie.

Why? Because the American people demand it? No. Because the Euros are going to sit around seething at us until he does. They won't go help the Iraqis — whose difficult lives the Euros always bemoan — because they're in a snit about Bush and the Americans.

And we're going to have to watch all this and try to keep our lunch down.

Hopefully Bush smirks and makes them mad again.

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