September 19, 2004

"Old Europe Is as Good as New"...

...was the contrived soundbite that new Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero had all teed up for the love-in summitry with French President Chirac and German Chancellor Schroder this past week:

Calling himself and his guests "fervent pro-Europeans," Zapatero said that Germany, France and Spain had agreed to jointly begin a public-awareness campaign on the EU constitution and are committed to building a strong and unified Continent.

But in many ways symbolism appeared to be more important than substance on Monday night.

The 44-year-old Spanish prime minister summarized the talks by referring to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's characterization of France, Germany and other nations opposed to the Iraq campaign as "the old Europe."

"If I had to describe the atmosphere of this meeting in just a few words, I would say 'the old Europe' is as good as new," Zapatero said during a joint press conference following the talks.

Chirac pointed out that none of the three leaders intended to change their position on Iraq. "We have opened a Pandora's box in Iraq that we are unable to close," he said. "The situation is very serious and it is not getting better."

Put aside Chirac's naseauting statement (the disingenuous evocation of the royal "we"; the schadenfreude-laden Pandora's Box reference, the obligatory it's serious and getting worse hand-wringing, and the, just in case you were wondering--we don't plan on helping any with this big Anglo-Saxon generated mess).

Focus instead on what else these three estimable leaders (who seemingly hadn't deigned to invite Tony and Silvio to their little shindig) were cooking up last Monday. Well, this, for one.

Speaking to reporters at the EU meeting, France's defense minister restated Paris' doubts about training Iraqis in Iraq.

"We in France continue to believe that this training should be done outside Iraq," Michele Alliot-Marie said. "Iraq has to find its own sense of identity and I don't think the addition of more foreigners in uniform will help that."

Diplomats said French concerns focused on whether U.S. Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who commands the American training operation in Iraq, also could head the NATO mission under a "double-hat" arrangement allowing him to report back to alliance headquarters.

French diplomats last week expressed concern about the alliance operation becoming "subservient" to the U.S.-led coalition.

Belgium mostly was concerned about how to share the costs of the mission, wanting more of the expenses to be covered by participating allies and not common NATO funds.

Belgium, France, Germany and Spain have said they will not send instructors into Iraq.

However, German Defense Minister Peter Struck said German military experts would instruct Iraqi military engineers and vehicle maintenance units in the United Arab Emirates. He said further training on mine-clearance likely would be conducted in Germany.

Think about all this for a second. Germany, quite disingenuously in my view, is trying to play a more 'transatlantic friendly' policy by training a few vehicle maintenance units in the environs of Dubai (see, we are being more helpful than the French!) Spain votes for nada help in Iraq. France quibbles about chain of command issues (surtout pas de 'subservience'!) and wants to avoid any NATO 'flag' in Iraq. And Belgium, incredibly, is quibbling over a few Euros regarding whether funds for such a training mission would come from national budgets or pooled NATO funds.

I have to say, even as a pretty committed trans-atlanticist, this gets me pretty steamed. Bear with me, just for kicks, and take a brief moment to recall all the U.S. assistance to Europe in the past odd century. The Doughboys in St. Ettiene during WWI. The shores of Normandy in the Second World War. Think about the almost five long decades of the Cold War as the Soviet Union loomed over Berlin. Think about the horrific carnage in Bosnia that the European governments couldn't solve until the U.S. intervened. Think about the mammoth Marshall Plan and the lead American role in NATO which, lest we forget, served as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism for these long decades too.

Now recall the death of 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania three years back. Think also about, if 3,000 had been slaughtered in Berlin or Paris, how their leaders might have reacted. Might not, even a feckless figure like Chirac, thought of potentially employing preventive means against an enemy that had tried to kill one of his predecessors, had used WMD against his own people, had started two wars in a region critical to his national interest, had ties with terror groups (even if no operational ones with the group responsible for the immediate massacre), had not expressed any regret about said attacks and was thought to possess stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons that might be transferred to terror groups? Might not, for argument's sake, it be possible that Germany or France might have, just maybe, gotten a little 'carried away' after such a national trauma in their leading city and gotten deeply involved in a country like Iraq?

Look, whatever you make of the Iraq mission, it is beyond doubt that success there is critical to the stability of the vastly important Middle Eastern region and beyond. This is a point Tony Blair made forcefully today during Iyad Allawi's visit to London. And, of course, training and equipping a viable Iraqi Army is a major component of trying to make the Iraq project successful. Can we not expect more from our European 'allies' in assisting this effort?

Well, not much; not much at all (though ultimately they will likely concede enough to allow a de minimis NATO train and equip effort in and around Iraq). Instead, it's pretty clear what's going on. Germany is offering up a 'vehicle maintenance' program to curry favor with naive Washington players who think Berlin is playing nice-nice to France's inglorious repudiation of any responsibility in trying to resuscitate the imperiled Iraq project. Belgium, as Eurocrats are wont to do, is busy pinching pennies (sorry, Euros). Zapatero is playing young, poster-boy puppy to Gerard and Jacques to rejuvenate Old Europe with a breath of Spanish 44-year old (and quite underwhelming) panache. And Chirac is rubbing Bush's nose in the Iraq imbroglio--fighting a rear-guard action to try to help Kerry get in. If Kerry does prevail, Chirac will receive him regally in Paris ("I have been to Paris" the Senator will doubtless solemnly intone again). Paris will finally offer up some cosmetic assistance with more alacrity--some gendarmerie will be trained in a neighboring country or (even!) Iraq itself perhaps. There will be talk of rapprochment in the air.

You know, rather than have our Ambassador to NATO have to endure this cheap and disheartening carpet-bazaar bartering process in Brussels--perhaps his time would be better spent focusing instead on pushing through a dramatic overhaul of NATO. The Soviet Union no longer menaces Western Europe, of course. The new perils of this century are that of asymmetric warfare, global terror, rogue nations and transnational terror cells. Sure, anyone has the right to disagree with the merits of the Iraq war--but no one can seriously deny that international terrorists like Zarqawi are now operating there. A serious French leader (like Nicolas Sarkozy, for instance) would understand this and put an end to this tedious 'will we, won't we' debate on the minute NATO assistance being offered up on training of Iraqi forces.

In the absence of real help and while a reinvigorated NATO is forged, we should query the French (and Belgians) regarding whether they really wish to remain in the alliance. The HQ in Brussels, after all, can be moved to Warsaw, Milan, or hell, Manchester. And those who might choose to remain in the soi disant alliance, like the Germans, would have to offer up a little more than vehicle maintenance units and such.

After all, many are likely happy to see NATO wither away into irrelevance it seems:

...NATO has failed the most important test, namely to ensure that its members continue to see its success as essential to their interests.

That they no longer do so is deeply disturbing. It reflects less on the shortcomings of the organization than on the shortsightedness of its members. True, their security from military attack is currently no longer at stake. But NATO is more than just a defense pact.

Like no other institution, NATO embodies Atlantic cohesion, something that remains essential for any Western effort to promote a degree of international order. NATO links Europe to the world's most powerful country and uniquely ties the United States to a common procedure of consultation and cooperation. Moreover, it is the only organization capable of generating international military operations for the many stability-building tasks that lie ahead.

European governments, therefore, are crazy not to support NATO. To watch it wither is at best frivolous, at worst dangerous. Instead of blaming the Bush administration and hoping for a change of government in the US, European members need to make NATO their own concern again. This does not imply kowtowing to every American view and whim or foregoing efforts to strengthen European defense cooperation. It does mean undertaking to make NATO again the place where both sides of the Atlantic develop a common approach to the dangers of this world.

Unfortunately, most European governments merely shrug their shoulders when the issue is raised. That dangerous indifference is the most serious sign of NATO's crisis.


Look, allies, like good friends, have occasional disagreements. But they do not try to block at every turn. Yes, it's true--we didn't want NATO to come into Afghanistan initially. We had just lost 3,000 of our civilians--and speed was of the essence. Friends, of course, might understand this. Now speed is less critical in places like Afghanistan where we are engaged in a long-term nation-building exercise. And so, yeah, we'd love to have a greater NATO presence there now--preferably without needing to have the NATO Secretary-General beg for every other helicopter or extra troop contingent with cup in hand. Or beg for a few trainers to teach Iraqi police (let alone army) recruits. At some point, enough is enough--you have to call a spade a spade. If some in Europe want to relegate NATO to irrelevance--perhaps we should help the process along. A 'new and improved' NATO, leaner (sans the likely candidates) and more attuned to the panoply of threats confronting us in the 21st century might be a good start.

Or, people need to get serious, and fast. Assuming basic alliance responsibilities would be a good start. After all, two alliance members alone have about 150,000 troops on the ground in Iraq right now. And NATO, to date, has only assisted with some logistical support to a Polish-led multinational contigent. That's just not going to cut it. If key NATO country leaders don't get this--we should give them a last chance to better understand the dynamics at play--and what all of us in the Atlantic Community lose if they don't better assume their responsibilities. If they aren't willing to help, or don't care, well (and with regret), we'll have to draw the obvious conclusions and move along. History, and alliances, are always in flux. As Palmerston said, "there are no permanent allies, only permanent interests." Perhaps the interests of Brussels in the post-Cold War, post-9/11 era simply are no longer those of Washington (ironically, post-Beslan, anti-NATO Russia's are likely closer to Washington's than the likes of Belgium's are...).

NB: On a slightly different topic, I'll have more on growing U.S.-Russian cooperation (including the potential perils thereto) in the security sphere soon.

Posted by Gregory at September 19, 2004 06:04 PM

Excellent. As a former member of the International Military Staff at HQ NATO I can tell you that the US/UK would be better off leaving and forming a true Atlantic/Western Alliance. The amount of time wasted in conferences trying to agree one word here one word there, taking days to agree, then having to wait for ages to have it translated into French when the main French speakers were not even part of the military structure!

As for the Belgies - move the HQ away from Evere in Brussels to say, Warsaw or Denmark and watch them scream. They are the welfare state of the EU and NATO, pay little, take much and give nothing. Still waiting for someone to have the guts to punish them for not letting us have ammo etc during Gulf War 1 and 2.

Move NATO now!

Posted by: dave t at September 19, 2004 08:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I share B.D.'s nausea at President Chirac's remarks.

If Mr. Kerry is elected, President Chirac won't help us at all in Iraq. Why don't Mr. Kerry's supporters acknowledge that unfortunate fact?

Posted by: Arjun at September 19, 2004 08:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Great piece and comments. The "myth of NATO" (as a very left-wing friend calls it) is long overdue for complete deconstruction and big-time changes. Then the UN. . .

Posted by: wendy forward at September 19, 2004 09:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm pro-European, despite my lack of European ancestry, and I'm looking forward to reading Timothy Garton Ash's book Free World, about shared European and American ideals and interests, as soon as it arrives in my mailbox.

On the other hand, I'm not at all fond of Parag Khanna's talk of Europe as the "metrosexual superpower". In a recent poll of Europeans, the idea of Europe-as-superpower polled at 60%, which fell by 30% when the pollster suggested that superpower-status might require increased military spending. Ridiculous.

I didn't like Secretary Rumsfeld's gratuitous comment about "Old Europe". I hope that Mr. Kerry's election will improve relations between the U.S. and her European allies (although it should be remembered that the best of these European allies are already assuming huge responsibilities and huge risks in Iraq). But European leaders need to understand what William Shawcross expressed (in his book Allies: The U.S., Britain, Europe, and the War in Iraq):

France's ambition, endorsed by many senior EU officials, that Europe should make itself a "counterweight" or rival to the United States is a vanity, a delusion that can only weaken the defenses of the world.

Posted by: Arjun at September 19, 2004 09:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

NATO increasingly has become "some trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted, but in a genuine coalition."

If only the NATO were as united a coalition as the Iraq War coalition.

Eric Anondson

Posted by: Eric Anondson at September 19, 2004 09:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

HQ the new alliance to Warsaw. The irony alone would be worth it.

Posted by: Dragutin at September 19, 2004 09:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kerry will not win. He will either alienate the Mikey Moore crowd or moderate Dems like me, and he has no votes to lose. Nader's on the Florida ballot. Add to this his campaign's incompetence, and it's Game Over.

The "West" as a coherent entity no longer has any meaning. mainly but not only because France will never be a real ally. It's absurd to view France as an ally when French diplomats are today telling every jihadist, pan-arabist and fascist in the middle east that France is on their side rather than America's. Even in the worst days of French mischief during the Cold War, neither De Gaulle nor any of his successors would have told the Soviets that France was their natural ally. The French overtures to China are especially outrageous. Why not just send weapons directly to Syria and Iran?

Any US president in this century will come to see, if he does not already see upon taking office, that America's security rests with rising Asian and Eurasian powers that truly can help-- or harm-- us in the mideast and far east. These nations, principally China, India and Russia, deserve far more attention than they've been receiving from us.

Let NATO die a slow death. Immediately set about creating a CSCE-style joint operations and consultation organization comprising serious, realist powers that appreciate the jihadist threat. Such an organization-- which need not and should not be a alliance-- would include all the nations with troops in Iraq, plus India, Israel, Russia at a minimum and possibly Singapore and Indonesia.

Posted by: lex at September 19, 2004 09:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Europe no longer matters. The nexus of events and influence has superceded them. Like Napoleon III at the Sedan, they are trying to reecapture lost glories that shall escape them again.

Posted by: Rob Mandel at September 19, 2004 09:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One of the best articles I have read in quite a long time.

NATO and the UN are getting to be a bunch of old women who are afraid of their own shadows. Without the US they would all be speaking German and living in fear, but I guess that thought doesn't cross their minds. Americans are kind, understanding, and above all extremely generous to a fault. No matter how many times we have had the sand, snow, or water kicked over us we have bailed out those less fortunate than ourselves.

For those of you who think Sen Kerry is your salvation I can only say "Be careful for what you wish for". If he gets into the White House we will all suffer the consequences and then where will "Old Europe" be when there is no one left to help bail them out? Guess they could use their own Air Force, Navy, Army...oh I forgot...they don't have sufficient troops to send to Iraq or Afganistan to help those less fortunate then themselves, let alone defend themselves on their own home turf.

Posted by: Ginifer at September 19, 2004 09:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Getting a little tired of the 'Old Europe' telling us USA 'youngsters' what is up. By my reckoning, the only European countries with a form of government older then the American system are Switzerland and the British. The rest are new following WWII or the collapse of the Soviet regime (Spain is new also following Franco's death).
Politely listen to the upstarts and take the rare gem of info, but give the rest of the garbage its due weight.

Posted by: Steve B at September 19, 2004 09:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Two small points:
--France did little to react or correct much larger than 3000 deaths when a heat wave swept Paris. Noisy inaction may be their only tool in the toolbox.

--Stability in the Middle East is not necessarily a good goal. Democratization of tyrannies isn't too stable in the short run.

Posted by: Chap at September 19, 2004 10:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Before you throw NATO on the burn pile of history, can you tie the UN to it?

America for far too long has done the heavy lifting to help those in need, only to be spit on. America needs to remove itself and its checkbook from both NATO and the UN, and craft new world leadership and defensive operations, one structured for the world as it is now, not as it was 50 years ago. Remaining in these organizations and trying to form new ones is a sure road to failure, but pulling out of the existing organizations will send a clear message to everyone - the process is broken and we are no longer going to throw American money and American bodies at problems that you create. This is the new line in the sand, do you want to be part of the world going forward, or the one withering on the vine?

The EU could tell us to go ahead, they will have 350 million people to tax to get money to create a new superpower that can support their world view, and their children can stand in front of bullets that are shot in their direction because of the actions of their constiuent countries - and America can stand back and watch for a change.

We either need serious reform or we need a clean break. See as how it is near impossible to get a consensus on anything anymore, a clean break would be easier, quick and probably a lot cheaper.

Posted by: Headzero at September 19, 2004 10:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Whether or not the HQ moves to Warsaw or Europe takes a more responsible role, one thing probably won't change--France. They are not only obstructing, they are basically an enemy of the US.

They not only won't allow NATO to train troops inside of Iraq, but they supposedly are also refusing to allow the full funding of training troops outside of Iraq. Only around 1/4 of the amount has supposedly been allowed. It's not just Belgium's "pennypinching."

And any reform of NATO won't come before the US has to deal with French "resistance" over Iran's nuclear program. The French will fight to keep their oil deals with Iran even moreso than they did with Saddam. They'll fight through the UN, the IAEA and through NATO.

Posted by: paul at September 19, 2004 10:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Your position is irrefutable to any interested person with common sense, but it begs the question; where is the loyal opposition in the US? Matt Yglesias wrote a piece 9/18 entitled "Whither Multilaterism?" summing up the trendy left's point of view -- America is the Evil Empire and Chirac is an exemplar of rectitude, integrity and altruism.
I wish Zell Miller had delivered his address at the RNC convention with less bombast so people would focus on the substance of what he said. If our current press corps and opposition party had been in power in 1944 the headlines would have been 85% filled with GI's raping their way accross France.

Posted by: wayneseib at September 19, 2004 10:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If you go back and listen to the entire Rumsfeld speech when he used the "old europe" He's was actually referring to old Nato members, which included UK and Spain who supported the war. The media spun it around and made it sound like an insult

Posted by: sil at September 19, 2004 10:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Leave us not forget that NATO invoked Article V of its charter a few days after the 9/11 attack, which meant that the alliance agreed to go to war.

Or at least, that was what Article V was supposed to mean, when the NATO charter was originally written back in the 1950's.

"An attack on one shall be considered an attack on all." By some strange twist of logic, in the 21st century, our NATO "allies" decided that this really meant that no one would be permitted to respond to that attack unless everyone else in the alliance approved of the response. "Since we were all attacked, we all have to agree on the response."

The invocation of Article V did not end up meaning the rest of the members of NATO went to war. Instead it meant that certain NATO members tried to prevent us from going to war.

It turns out that there was only one tangible result of the vote. In March of 2002, the Secretary General of NATO hung a memorial painting of the WTC on the wall at NATO HQ, outside of the conference room where NATO members to invoke Article V.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 19, 2004 10:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Zell Miller's speech at the RNC was just right. A spare homily filled with passion about how the pacifist wing of the Democratic party -- so similar to the polities of France, Germany, Belgium, etc, -- has seized the wheel and in the process conjured up a fantasy world (like Old Europe has) where death cultists can somehow be induced to sit down at a table to talk out our differences. Only a continent which has been insulated from reality for half a century could dream such dreams. There's no excuse for the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Jerry at September 19, 2004 11:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Your post deals only with the diplomatic aspects of NATO, which are quite sufficient to warrant its demise. But of even more importance are the military aspects of NATO'sobsolescence. The U. S. military is advancing so rapidly in the development of battlefield information systems and new tactical doctrine to accompany them that combat is becoming as dangerous for allies not comparably equipped as for the enemy, because they become indistinguishable.

More and more, if the Europeans are unwilling to help where they can, when they can, NATO becomes a one way street. With America bearing the responsibility and burdens with the Europeans as free riders providing no offsetting benefit to the US. This cannot be sustained.

It now appears nearly certain, in the absence of an October surprise, that Bush will win re-election, distasteful as this thought may be to the rest of the world. Bush will do nothing to end NATO. But if the NATO "allies" continue to behave as they have, I should not be surprised to see both parties in the 2008 primaries debate the approrpiate level of commitment to Europe with one or both parties explicitly entertaining that the time to reform NATO has come. This, or some other, will be the code word for leaving a declining Europe to its own devices so that American attention and resources can be more approrpiately devoted to the rest of the world.

Posted by: Richard Heddleson at September 19, 2004 11:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Warsaw is the right place for the headquarters for any military alliance between the US and European countries of like mind on issues of security, stability and freedom

Posted by: swampfox at September 19, 2004 11:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

France is a century or two over the hill. It is but a mere wisp of a shadow of its formerly great society. Please don't say this to Chirac, he doesn't know, and we shouldn't be naive enough to depend on a wisp or a shadow when it comes to the hard work of national security. I put most of NATO in this category and regard this war as a shedding of old diplomatic alliances and an opportunity for new alignments - perhaps including the middle east.

Posted by: spamster at September 20, 2004 03:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Your post was well-written and insightful. It was thought-provoking. The first thought that came to mind was, "Who do I know who cares one whit about what European politicians think?' I live in the richest half of the richest state of the richest country on the planet. I'm a fat, bald, middle-aged lawyer in Southern California. I help businesses resolve business disputes. I help one son-of-a-bitch get money from another son-of-a-bitch. In my world, focus is on the present and close-by. NATO re-alignment, French fecklessness, German perfidity, ho-hum! I am trying to think who I know who gives a damn if the Spaniards are turn-coats. I can't think of anyone. Over here, nobody seems to care. Nobody. The presidential election is a joke. Kerry's an empty suit, and the President elicits almost as much scorn. Those few of us political geeks tend toward Republican and the current administration. But where is the concern? BTW I'm going to be in Knightsbridge in October, where'a good pub?

Posted by: Steve Lambert at September 20, 2004 04:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let's please stop comparing the run-up to the Iraq war with the run-up to WWII. First of all, there was significant opposition to Iraq not only around the world but in the United States, too. An awful lot of people believed it was a bad idea at the time it was launched, and an awful lot of other people have come to that conclusion in the eighteen months since. There was no comparable domestic opposition prior to WWII.

Furthermore, why is it so implausible that nations such as France and Germany opposed the war because they believed it would be a disaster? Recent events have certainly vindicated that POV. The recent intelligence report ought to be a sobering thought to those under the illusion that Iraq was in good shape.

As per the future of the UN and NATO- of course it's naive to think these organizations are flawless. They clearly aren't. But that doesn't mean we should scrap the very idea of multilateralism.

Before we accuse the French and Germans of anything, we should be sure we did the right thing. I don't think it's certain that a) Iraq will end up any better than it was under Saddam or b) removing him has benefited our global war against terror.

Could the pro-war people please be a little bit less self-righteous? I know it's intellectually simpler to accuse dissenters of cowardice, treason, and stupidity but the shrill, arrogant tone of the pro-war mainstream makes healthy debate next to impossible.

Posted by: DudeAbides at September 20, 2004 05:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

France opposed the war because Saddam was their (and Chirac's) best client in the middle east. To paraphrase Charles Barkley, France had about 10 billion reasons for opposing the overthrow of Total FinaElf's counterparty in the West Qurna sweetheart deal.

Posted by: lex at September 20, 2004 05:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Also, re that all-but-meaningless phrase "multilateralism", of course the Bush admin is taking a multilateralist approach to North Korea (as opposed to the foolish calls from Europe for unilateralist US-NK talks) and other crucial issues. The key distinction is not "unilateralist" vs "multilateralist" but Eurocentric vs global. The Bush admin is the first American admin ever to recognize that the world is no longer centered on Europe and that the crucial states for us, for our security in this century, are the Asian and Eurasian powers.

Posted by: lex at September 20, 2004 05:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let's cut to the chase. NATO is dead. Or, if you don't like blunt news, "It's passed on."

Posted by: Promethea at September 20, 2004 05:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


"Could the pro-war people please be a little bit less self-righteous? I know it's intellectually simpler to accuse dissenters of cowardice, treason, and stupidity but the shrill, arrogant tone of the pro-war mainstream makes healthy debate next to impossible."

Then you're going to have to explain DemocraticUnderground.

The facts are pretty simple.

1. France, Germany, Russia and China all colluded with the UN to sell miltiary and dual-use items through the UN's Oil-For-Fraud program.

2. France actively tried to manipulate both America and the world in order to prevent a loss of business and political revenue. A prime piece of evidence of this is the Italian businessman who supplied the fake documents about Iraq just confessed to having been in the employ of the *French*.

3. The lives of American civilians and soldiers meant, and still mean, less than nothing to these countries. They could literally care less. So the entire concept of making our defense dependent upon their opinion is utterly insane.

4. If the UN was such a worthwhile entity then why did it do nothing about Rwanda? Or the Sudan even now? How about Bosnia? The Balkan Campaign had *never* gained UN approval or sanction. How about the UN's total incompetency in Afghanistan and Kosovo? Additionally where's the world outrage over the French unilateral military intervention in the Ivory Coast?

5. Read your history books better. There was a extreme amount of opposition to getting involved in WWII. It required a direct sneak attack by the Japanese to force the issue. Otherwise it's very possible that America might not have ever joined the Allies at all.

"There was no comparable domestic opposition prior to WWII."

Completely wrong.

6. Another simple fact is that Saddam was so unwilling to make the necessary changes because he believed that Chirac could prevent the invasion. If Chirac had been an ally, and not an *enemy*, then there's the very real possibility that no invasion would have been necessary. Instead Saddam might have been persuaded to step down and go into a comfortable exile.

Why was Saddam so confident? All those bribes he's paid out. It's interesting that France's politicaly parties rely on a system of bribes to operate. Chirac's party has depended almost entirely on Saddam for the last 20 years. Then there's the 1.2 billion barrels of oil given to the Russians. I forget what the Chinese got out of all this. I know that France and Russia got some incredibly sweet oil field exploration deals.


It's all BS. The longer America listens to or values the opinion of other nations, the longer we'll be the patsy. The thing to do is treat those nations, that act as enemies, AS enemies indeed.

Then we can get onto the real work of building a 100' wall between America and Mexico and then invading and subjugating Canada.


Posted by: ed at September 20, 2004 06:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Europe's position of providing neither troops or more than indirect support in Iraq is a broadly appropriate response to the completely indefensible position the US/UK has been reduced to:

* demonstrably false reasons (known pre and post war) given for going to war. With a colonial history full of crystal clear examples of the folly of such exercises, the European public were easily able see through the BS spouted by the neocons, and as democratic societies, their leaders did what their citizens wanted, i.e. stayed out and continue to stand back in the absence of any overriding national interest.

* the criminally negligent and willfully ignorant lack of planning for the post-invasion period, and subsequent abysmal failure. A rough analogy is that the US went on a honey raid and jammed it's hand into a beehive, without any serious planning to manage the aftereffects. Europe declined to participate because they viewed the risk/reward as poor. The US is now demanding that Europe come into the hive and help. Quite reasonably, Europe is declining to go anywhere near it, and quite rightly sees it as a "you broke it, you fix it" situation, unless it is seen that the US itself becomes threatened, which is not the case at present.

* Re: WWII analogies, recall that the US did not directly intervene in WWII beyond providing war material support even when most of Europe was conquered, until the US was itself attacked. Furthermore WWII started with Germany attacking the rest of Europe, not Europe attacking Germany on flimsy pretexts; of course comparing Iraq to Germany by itself demonstrates the inherently bogus nature of the reasons given for the war. As far as the "new" reason that it's now the critical front to defeat "terror", well, they can defeat the Iraqi "terror" (i.e. guerrilla war) threat tomorrow, by publicly announcing that they're ending any plans or construction to conduct a long term occupation, declare victory, negotiate a staged withdrawal with all the relevant ethnic groups, and get out.

* The invocation of "preventative war" is an incredibly dangerous precedent, which for example will probably be used by China as an excuse to invade Taiwan within the next 5 years. Europe quite rightly wants nothing to do with supporting this precedent.

The tragic fact is the US/UK engaged in an ill-considered aggressive war of choice, against the wrong country, and has made a bloody, dangerous mess of it, and has undermined their strategic goals in the region. As such they have no right to ask others for assistance. The US/UK are going to have expend their own blood and treasure to get out of it. Europe will only sacrifice their soldiers lives when their strategic interests are directly threatened, or if the US gets into serious enough trouble as to be directly endangered.

Posted by: quietpc3400 at September 20, 2004 07:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think you make a good point.

Posted by: Jeff Meyer at September 20, 2004 07:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There was widespread worry about the US entering WW II prior to Pearl Harbor.

The same in the UK.

The poster who claims that WWII was different is wrong.

Posted by: Aaron at September 20, 2004 10:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Only the liberals in the US are whinning for the European counties to send troops to Iraq. France, Russia and Germany opposed the war because of financial, not principle reasons. It's all tied to the Oil for food scam that was being run by the UN.

France promised Powell if he waited until 2/15/03 to present the evidence to the security council, if Saddam hadn't fully cooperated at that time, then France would vote for the resolution. Powell told Bush what France said and on the 2/15/03, France informed Powell they changed their mind.

Most Iraqis are glad to be out from under the boot of the SOB Saddam. Unfortunately for Iraq, the world community is more interested in seeing the US fail, than helping bring security to the Iraqi people who suffered so much under Saddam.

And so it'll take longer, but many wonderful Iraqis still think life is better now than under Saddam. George Bush is going to win the election anyway so at least the Iraqis won't be abandoned in the way Kerry caused us to abandoned Vietnam.

I Understand about 80% of Europe supports Kerry, so hell, why don't you guys invite him over and elect him to be the EU President. He hunts deer with a 12 guage shotgun which he crawls around on the gound with. He's telling his party that Bush allowed the assault weapons ban to expire and now Al Queda can come in an by m-16, and then tells Outdoor life that his favorite gun is his Chinese made AK-47 which is still illegale to have In Washington and Massachuets. His political opinions change as often as a weather vane. So please take him.

Posted by: Gary B. at September 20, 2004 10:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Disband NATO as it stands

Reform it with "New Europe" and reliable allies (Italy, UK, Denmark) and base it in Warsaw. Then rename it the Warsaw Pact and change its mandate to containing NATO, which will now be Germany, France and their new lickspittle, Spain

Posted by: GW Crawford at September 20, 2004 01:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

European stubbornness is linked to CBS. Both have too much to hide and have lost the courage to do the right thing. They have the right to their opinion, and don't have the first clue as to how it is they have that right.

Posted by: rastajenk at September 20, 2004 01:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The comments above, including mine, are all on the side of criticizing Europe, so I'd like to remind people that Europe and the U.S. share important interests and ideals, including liberal democracy, and that several European allies are offering the U.S. vital cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I'm an American of Indian parentage, and I support India's liberal democracy, but I don't think India (for example) can ever be the kind of U.S. ally in liberal democracy promotion that Europe can and should be. Europe is important.

Posted by: Arjun at September 20, 2004 03:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think the Danes should be rewarded with the new NATO HQ.

Posted by: blogRot at September 20, 2004 03:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The tiresome threesome, Prime Minister Zapatero, Chancellor Schroeder, and President Chirac, don't represent all of Europe.

Britain, Italy, Poland, Ukraine, and Bulgaria all have substantial troop commitments in Iraq.

Posted by: Arjun at September 20, 2004 06:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You're forgetting the Netherlands, thank you very much. 1350 soldiers on the ground in Iraq, about 300 in Iraq (mainly F16's and Apaches and a PRC). It's not a lot, I know, but we're a shitty little country.

Posted by: Hagelslag at September 20, 2004 08:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The 300 are in Afghanistan, in fact.

Posted by: Tijmen at September 20, 2004 08:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I sincerely apologize for omitting the Netherlands. 1350 is a lot of soldiers, in my opinion, so I'm grateful for that strong Dutch commitment, and I'm very sorry for my mistake. Sorry.

Posted by: Arjun at September 20, 2004 08:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It will be interesting to see if the new EU executive that apears to have reduced the French and German participation to minor posts turns out to be less Anti-American. If so, Arjun may have a point. But if the Brussels based American bashing continues, the fine Nations Arjun and Hagelslag mention must reconsider the company they keep in the EU.

Several of the posters above did suggest moving NATO HQ to Warsaw, a reflection that there are countries in Europe that are friends. But the French and Germans are going into one of their all to prefquent bouts of insanity and they threaten to take the whole continent down with them.

Posted by: Richard Heddleson at September 21, 2004 02:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If NATO gets changed around, what are the chances the new NATO would invite the USA to join?

Maybe better to leave the ghost of the old NATO wandering around, to keep the new NATO from getting set up. It might cause some sort of trouble if it got started.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 21, 2004 07:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The transatlantic spat over Iraq is nothing compared to the spat over Iran. The simple fact is that in Iran as in most areas of the middle east, the Europeans perceive their interests to be at odds with ours. In less polite terms, as regards the jihadists, most Europeans are on the other side.

High time that Americans recognized that "the West" does not exist and that EUrabia will not take our side in containing Iran, which is by far themost pressing problem we face.

Better far to set about creating bilateral understandings and cooperation agreements with the nations that really do matter for uS security in this century, the rising Eurasian and Asian powers on Iran's frontlines: Russia and India. Those nations' support is far more important to us than that of France, Germany, or even Britain.

Posted by: lex at September 22, 2004 07:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

NATO's dead. The "allies'" forces aren't even interoperable with ours, which are at least twenty years ahead in most categories, be it avionics or GPS or airlift capacity or any number of technical areas. Additionally, the EU is simply not on our side regarding the need to put military pressure on a nuclear Iran.

It's the Suez Crisis in reverse. Americans should get over their Eurocentrism and sentimental view of world politics. The world no longer revolves around Europe, and the nations of Eurasia and Asia are far more important to US security in this century than any of the aging, dying, militarily impotent European nations.

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