SUMAN PALIT IS UNFAZED by the French/German diplomatic counteroffensive. I think he’s right here.
Just now I caught a bit of an NPR program in which an expert was solemnly warning that Europe would become a “rival superpower” and asserting, as evidence, the “growing pacifism” among Germans.
I’m willing to run the risk of a pacifistic rival. In truth, Europe can’t become a rival superpower without structural change that would completely undermine the current meaning of “Europe” — a shift away from socialist welfare-state economics that would allow investments in military capacity, for example.
That could happen, but it’s not likely, and it’s not the kind of thing that happens gradually, or by accident.
Personally, I think that the French/German behavior here is further support for Steven Den Beste’s theory that they have something dreadful to hide regarding their relations with Saddam.
UPDATE: Reader Chuck Herrick emails:
Clearly, this is a credible alternative to democracy forced by war. Certainly not preferable, but definitely credible, meaning a butt-load of folks are going to believe in it.
So, why wait until it’s too late (so late)?
I think the point the Euro’s are trying to accomplish is the destruction of George W Bush, and the muscular, politically conservative agenda of America. Because, even if Bush takes us to war (I pray for this) and wins (I pray for this) and wins easily (I pray for this) and transforms the middle east into a domino-phenomenon that beings a democratic ripple throughout the region (I pray for this), the anti-war, America-haters are going forever to be able to brand America as “The Big Cowboy”.
For the Euros, this is not about presenting viable alternatives. This is about neutering America. This is about international competition of the most venal sort. Because if there were a shred of interest in presenting alternatives, this alternative would not have been presented so late in the game.
Look at the play-by-play, in slo-mo if you like. The Euros have played this brilliantly. This is going to be very difficult for the US to bat down in time before we go to war, and that I think is the whole point. The Euros want us to go to war with this proposal sitting on the table.
In other words, since this is not an honest proposal (serious, yes, honest no), they win big chips in the court of world opinion.
It’s poker baby, and the Euros have just called our hand. They suck, but play very well.
Yeah, but it’s a bluff, and it’s not going to work. First, this assumes that it’s bad to be thought of as the “Cowboy of the World.”
A year or two ago I might have agreed with this. But looking around the world I see a degree of cravenness and an appetite for appeasement that makes me wonder whether it’s worth it to play nice.
And my question for the French and Germans is this: If the Security Council fails to constrain Saddam Hussein, what makes you think that it will constrain America?
And how long can you demonize America as an imperialist power that doesn’t give a damn what other people think before it comes true?
And do you want to live in that world?
As I said below, of course, it would serve these guys right if Bush said: “We’ve mobilized the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, and we’ll transport 50,000 of your toops to Iraq starting on Thursday. But if you’re not ready to send them, we’ll dismiss you as a bunch of unserious kibitzers and go on as planned.”
I predict a different outcome, however, because this is, in fact, a transparent ploy.