Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 30, 2002
WAR: The International Rule Book

My running comments on an article from the front page of today's Washington Post (I'm excerpting here):

"The mixture of containment and establishing an international rule book by
and large encouraged democracy, the rule of law and open markets throughout
the world," said Chris Patten, the European Union's external affairs
minister, in an interview Friday. "Why should anyone think that that
approach was somehow less relevant after September 11th? I think it's more
relevant."

ISN'T IT JUST POSSIBLE THAT THE "INTERNATIONAL RULE BOOK" DOESN'T WORK WITH PEOPLE WHO DON'T ACCEPT IT?

Rallies by tens of thousands of anti-war demonstrators in London and Rome on Saturday were reminiscent of the protests of the early 1980s in favor of
nuclear disarmament and against President Ronald Reagan's tough stance on
the Soviet Union.

YES, AND THOSE ENDED NATO AND DESTROYED THE UN, RIGHT? IN FACT, REAGAN DID JUST WHAT HE WANTED, AND NOW NATO HAS A BUNCH OF NEW DEMOCRACIES ASKING TO JOIN. EVEN RUSSIA WANTS IN.

But here in Brussels, opposition to what is seen as the administration's emerging unilateralism comes not just from the left but from across the board, and includes the highest levels of the EU.

ARE WE TO BELIEVE THAT "THE LEFT" AND "THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF THE EU" ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS?

Officials concede that one of their problems is that they do not speak with
one voice. The views of European leaders range from British Prime Minister
Tony Blair's spirited endorsement of the Bush administration's Iraq policy
to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's equally spirited criticism, with
French President Jacques Chirac somewhere in between. "It's our weakness,
not America's strength, that is the problem," said Elmar Brok, chairman of
the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee.

NO KIDDING!

"We have no influence because we have no common European approach."

Although the European Union is a baroque collection of institutions,
regulations and formalism designed to transform narrow national interests
into collective policies,

SOUNDS LIKE THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS TO ME

feelings still count -- and European feelings have been badly bruised in recent months

NEW YORK'S FEELINGS WERE HURT TOO

The Europeans say the administration views them as "Euro wimps" who don't pull their weight militarily, and who prefer prevarication to plain-speaking and appeasement to action.

NOTE THAT NOBODY OFFERS ANY EVIDENCE TO CONTRADICT THIS

Many officials

WHO DON'T HAVE THE STONES TO GO ON THE RECORD

regret that Schroeder took his stance, which helped him win a
narrow reelection victory last week, without consulting his European
partners. But they say that Schroeder was reflecting the views not just of
the German electorate, but of people throughout the continent. "President
Bush would not be able to walk the streets of Berlin shaking hands right
now,"
THAT DIDN'T STOP FDR a senior official said, "or the streets of Madrid."

Europeans also resent U.S. predictions that they will inevitably go along
with military action against Iraq, whether it is sanctioned by the United
Nations or not. "The consequences of allowing America to go in alone would
be too severe," conceded another senior official. But not every European
leader would go along, he said. "A lot of Europeans would feel they'd been
put in an intolerable position." For those who would agree to participate
militarily, "it would be less a coalition of the willing than of the
dragooned."

IN OTHER WORDS, NOBODY IS DISAGREEING THAT THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT WILL HAPPEN

(At this point, the usual whining about Kyoto and the International Criminal Court . . . I don't even have the heart to go after those canards, but they also cite U.S. support for Sharon's policies in Israel, without explaining how this could possibly injure the Europeans)

The terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon momentarily overshadowed those disputes and created a wave of sympathy and support for the United States. "We're All Americans Now," declared the front page of Le Monde, the left-of-center Paris daily that usually takes pleasure in America-bashing.

But that sentiment quickly faded. European officials now concede that they
were slow to recognize the depth of the wound and shock to Americans -- and
the degree to which Americans would take literally the concept of a war on
terrorism. "For you, it's not symbolic, it's a real term," one official said. "From that moment, you decided it's your problem and you have to solve it and the rest of the world can either help, or, if not, to hell with them."

THE AMERICANS MEAN IT WHEN THEY SAY "WAR"! WE THOUGHT THEY'D JUST BUILD SOME MORE GIANT MULTINATIONAL BUREAUCRACIES AND GO HOME!

Europeans, who have experienced terrorism in such places as Northern Ireland and the Basque region of Spain

NOTE "EXPERIENCED" NOT "SUCCESSFULLY ERADICATED"

resent being dictated to

AREN'T THEY GLAD, THEN, THAT AMERICAN TROOPS KEEP GETTING RID OF THEIR DICTATORS?

Many people contend that the Americans have put too much emphasis on a military approach to attacking terrorism

AH, THAT JOURNALIST'S FRIEND, "MANY PEOPLE"

and not enough on dealing with what they identify as root causes, such as poverty and lack of freedoms.

SO, THE SOLUTION TO "LACK OF FREEDOMS" IS TO LEAVE SADDAM, THE IRANIAN MULLAHS, ETC. IN PLACE AS THEY ARE? AND TO BE NEUTRAL BETWEEN ARAFAT AND ISRAEL?

"None of this in any way justifies or explains what happened on September 11th," Patten said, "but perhaps it means we have a slightly more nuanced idea of how you deal with terrorism."

I.E., DON'T ROCK THE BOAT AND HOPE THEY GO AFTER SOMEBODY ELSE

Worse, many believe that Washington has adopted a militarized foreign policy

THAT WOULD BE KNOWN, IN AMERICAN CIRCLES, AS A "WAR"

that divides the world too simply into friends and enemies. Bush's "Axis of
Evil" characterization, lumping North Korea and Iran with Iraq, disturbed
many here -- including Britain, America's most loyal European partner, which
was engaged in trying to build bridges to moderates in Iran when Bush's
rhetorical hammer fell.

WE'VE BEEN TRYING THAT SINCE THE REAGAN YEARS, AND LOOK WHERE IT GOT US

The conflict over Iraq has crystallized many European fears. After the
hawkish statements of Vice President Cheney, national security adviser
Condoleezza Rice and Rumsfeld, many here concluded that the Bush
administration had no genuine interest in seeking to disarm Iraq of weapons
of mass destruction, but was using the issue as a ploy to topple Saddam
Hussein under any circumstances

WHICH WOULD BE THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO "DISARM IRAQ OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION," NO?

While they welcomed Bush's decision to seek a new U.N. Security Council resolution on weapons inspections -- and give Britain's Blair credit for helping guide Bush in that direction -- they fear that the administration is only using the council as justification for military action, and will go ahead even without U.N. assent.

"It was wholly legitimate for President Bush to go to the United Nations and
to challenge the international community to make good on what it says it believes," said Patten. "But that's just not for one day. It's got to be for real."

DID I MISS SOMETHING? HAVE WE STOPPED WORK ON THE RESOLUTION?

Bush's new strategic doctrine formalizes some of the trends Europeans find
most troubling. "Preemption says to us, 'This is an empire and we will not allow anybody to get close to our capabilities and we are ready to act to prevent that from happening,' " a senior official said.

NOW WHO'S BEING SIMPLISTIC? IT'S NOT ABOUT FEAR OF "CAPABILITIES" - HECK, AT THE BEGINNING OF THE ARTICLE THEY WERE COMPLAINING ABOUT US TELLING EUROPE TO GET MORE OF THOSE. IT'S NOT ENGLAND OR EVEN INDIA WE'RE ATTACKING HERE FOR WANTING THE BOMB

Another official said the doctrine set a bad precedent -- if it is all right for the United States to attack another country preemptively for supporting terrorism, he asked, then what is to prevent India from dropping a nuclear
bomb on Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, in retaliation for Pakistani support for separatists in Kashmir?

THAT WOULD BE "PAKISTAN'S NUCLEAR ARSENAL," THANK YOU

European officials search for signs that the American public is less hard-line than the administration. Every one of a half-dozen officials interviewed last week cited the recent opinion survey sponsored by the U.S. German Marshall Fund and Chicago Council of Foreign Relations indicating a convergence in views on security issues between Americans and Europeans and a solid American majority in favor of obtaining Security Council support for any attack on Iraq. Most cited with approval former vice president Al Gore's attack on administration policy last week, although one official added, "If we'd said that here, we'd be immediately branded as anti-American."

AND GORE . . . ?

U.S. diplomats contend European fears are overwrought. "Part of it [their fear] is European old-think -- the old balance of power instincts," said a senior U.S. diplomat, referring to the Cold War model in which strong nations balanced each other and effectively maintained world stability. "And I think part of it is that the Europeans see lots of reasons to interpret America's terrorism war as America trying to bend Europe to its own will."

Some Europeans agree that officials need to calm themselves and remember what they have in common with the United States. "There are so many areas where we have joint interests and so many similarities between us," said Pascal Lamy, the EU's trade commissioner. "Any good negotiator will tell you that Lesson One is having a clear view of each side's starting positions.
Just getting there is a good start for living together because we have to live together."

UNLESS THE TERRORISTS KILL US, THAT IS. BUT DON'T WORRY, THE AMERICANS ARE TAKING CARE OF THAT

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:06 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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