The Belgravia Dispatch by GREGORY DJEREJIAN


2/28/2003  

Tony is the New Thatcher

Wonderful, direct reaction from Tony Blair to Saddam's Al-Samoud maneuverings. As I indicated a couple days back regarding Saddam's obfuscations during the Dan Rather intreview regarding the missiles (but didn't state as lucidly as the increasingly impressive Tony Blair):

"The moment I heard earlier in the week that (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein was saying he would not destroy the missiles was the moment I knew that later in the week he would announce, just before Dr. Blix reported, that he would indeed destroy these missiles,'' Blair said, referring to a forthcoming report by chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix."

And in The Guardian:

"Defending himself against the charge that he was behaving like George Bush's poodle, he portrayed himself as a hawk in his own right.

"It's worse than you think. I believe in it. I am truly committed to dealing with this, irrespective of the position of America," he said.

"If the Americans were not doing this, I would be pressing for them to be doing so."







posted by Gregory| 2/28/2003 01:24:00 PM
 

Dem Watch

Bob Graham throws his hat into the 2004 race.

"His strength in Florida undercuts the popularity of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) in the Sunshine State, where Lieberman campaigned heavily as the party's 2000 vice presidential nominee.

Graham's roots on a dairy farm in the Old Confederacy erase the claim of North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) to be the Southern candidate. His years as governor, and his vote against the Senate resolution authorizing war in Iraq, erode former Vermont governor Howard Dean's claim to be the one candidate with executive experience and a clear antiwar position.

No Democrat from north of the Mason-Dixon Line has won the White House since 1960. That's also the last time anyone from either party was elected without having been a governor or vice president."



posted by Gregory| 2/28/2003 09:18:00 AM
 

The Al-Samoud II Step

As I predicted earlier, Saddam, after contra blustery remarks to Dan Rather, does indeed (with possible conditions) look set to allow the Al-Samouds to be destroyed. Anything to give the French more ammo with Cameroon, Pakistan, Chile and the like. Of course, Dubya rightly says such an action (if it indeed were to be effectuated) would not have any impact on his decision-making process. It's not about these missiles, it's about the mustard gas, anthrax, botulinum toxin, etc. I just feel for Tony Blair if we don't get those nine votes sans veto.

posted by Gregory| 2/28/2003 12:21:00 AM


2/27/2003  

Baghdad-Based Blog

Check out this blog based in Iraq.

Here's what they say about "human shields" descending on the town:

"A reader sent me an angry email a couple of days ago (not the reader who writes in the comments, someone else) asking me why I dislike the “human shields” so much, he/she actually asked “why do you spit on them?”. Ewww. Now I was never that unfriendly. I have not met any of them in person, which just might happen in the next couple of days, what I dislike is the idea. But since dissing them gets people so exited, here we go and do what [destiny’s child] don’t, “cause their mamma taught them better than that”, we be dissing the shields again on the internet.
One of the latest group to arrive in Baghdad, mostly Europeans, were welcomed to the Rasheed hotel , which is like the Waldorf Astoria of Baghdad, no other hotel is more expensive and exclusive. All of them were wearing T-shirts with what was supposed to be "Human Shields" in Arabic, but they had it all wrong it said "Adra'a Basharia" instead of "Duru'u Basharia" which got them a few giggles and a new name; they are now the "Adra'a" just to show how clueless they are. A lot of funny Arabic these days with all these HS's running around, a van with a foreign number plate standing near the ministry of information has "No War" written all over it in many languages the biggest in Arabic. All over the front of it is says "La Harba" which is wrong and sounds like a night club, my cousin thought that was cute. Anyway, what really got my goat this time was finding out that they get food coupons worth 15,000 dinars per meal, 3 for every day.fifteen thousan.
Do you know how much the monthly food ration for a 4 person family is worth, for a whole month not per meal (real cost, not subsidized) ? 30,000 dinars, if you get someone to buy the bad rice they give you for a decent price. 15,000. What are they eating? A whole lamb every meal? Let's put this within context. Today in the morning Raed, our friend G. and I went for a late big breakfast we had 2 tishreeb bagilas (can't explain that, you have to be an Iraqi to get it otherwise it sounds inedible) and a makhlama (which is an omelet with minced meat), tea, fizzy drinks and argila afterwards (the water-pipe-thingy) all for 4,750 dinars, and we were not going super cheap. A lunch in any above-average restaurant will not be more than 8,000 dinars and that includes everything. 15,000 thousand is a meal in a super expensive restaurant in Arasat Street, in one of those places that really almost have an "only foreigners allowed, no Iraqis welcome unless you are UN staff" sign on it. I will stop calling them tourist when they stop taking all this pampering from the Iraqi government. Did I tell you about the tours? Today was Babylon day. You are really missing it, the cheapest way to do the Iraq trip you have wanted to do but were too scared.
And I have a tip for all freelance journalists who are not getting their Visas. Join your colleagues. It's the best way to get past the visa thing, every third one of these "shields" will be writing an article somewhere. Hurry contact your local "war tourism" travel agent.
Sorry, I just don't get it. What are they doing here?"

Good question, isn't it?

And another sample post from February 5th:

"A quick run thru what is going on in Baghdad before uncles and aunts flood the house. The juiciest bit of news actually happened about a week ago but I was told about it today. A couple of days ago it was rumored that all top officials had their phone numbers changed, well who cares it’s not like I call Saddam every night to chat, but today a friend explained why. Around six days ago the phone lines of the Iraqi air defense units were “attacked”. When you picked up the phone in some of the command units you didn’t get a dial tone but a male voice speaking in broken Arabic. What it said is close to what the infamous email said, don’t use chemical or biological weapons, don’t offer resistance, and don’t obey commands to attack civilian areas and so on. This went on for a couple of hours. Now everyone has new numbers. I have no idea how that is at all possible. I do know that for some rural areas we use microwave signals for phone connections but they can’t be so stupid as to use it for military purposes.
Way to go uncle Sam. This is going to make one hell of a James Bond movie.

The trenches and sandbag mountains I wrote about last week are now all over Baghdad. They are not being put there by the army; they are part of the Party’s preparations for an insurgence. Each day a different area of Baghdad goes thru the motions. Party members spread in the streets of that area, build the trenches, sit in them polishing their Kalashnikovs and drink tea. The annoyance-factor of these training days depend on the zeal of the party members in that area. Until now the worst was the [14th of Ramadan] street, they stopped cars searched them and asked for ID and military cards, good thing I wasn’t going thru that street, I still have not stamped my military papers to show that I have done my reserves training.

Saddam is still meeting officers daily, and we have the pleasure of watching these meetings three times every day. Each batch he meets leaves the place with a 1.5million Iraqi Dinars check and a brand new car. The latest cars to be put in the warehouses I pass by are Toyota Corollas, all white. The warehouse has around 150 of them (we counted the trucks standing outside). It is said that there are a couple of thousand more new cars waiting just outside Baghdad, parked so close to each other when one of them caught fire they couldn’t get to it fast enough, 38 cars burned."

Methinks the Toyota Corollas won't buy loyalty past the first 48 hours or so of the impending offensive.

posted by Gregory| 2/27/2003 11:38:00 PM
 

Sanity at HLS

Where neo-marxist critical studies often passes for serious legal scholarship we have sober students who get the stakes.

posted by Gregory| 2/27/2003 10:01:00 PM
 

Osama/Zawahiri Watch

The latest scuttlebutt on their location remains, more or less, what we have been hearing for a while.

posted by Gregory| 2/27/2003 05:20:00 PM
 

Will He or Won't He

For Francophones, Le Figaro has an excellent article on whether Jacques Chirac would use France's veto power. In a little noted fact that bears mentioning:

"Le souhait de la diplomatie française, c'est que ce dilemme ne se présente jamais. La France n'a plus utilisé son droit de veto contre les États-Unis depuis près d'un demi-siècle. La seule et unique fois où elle l'opposa à Washington, ce fut lors de l'expédition de Suez, en 1956. Et encore, ce fut un veto déposé en commun avec Londres, pour échapper à une condamnation américano-soviétique de l'équipée militaire en Égypte. Un veto aujourd'hui contre un projet américain serait donc une première. L'espoir que la Russie se joigne à la France pour un veto commun est mince, vu la volonté du président Vladimir Poutine de ne pas se brouiller avec Washington."

Translation: The hope of French diplomacy is that this dilemma doesn't present itself (Note: The French hope that nine countries won't support the resolution so that the veto issue doesn't arise). France has not used its veto against the U.S. for nearly a half century. The one and only time that France opposed Washinton occurred during the Suez expedition, in 1956. And even here, the veto was undertaken in concert with London to escape a U.S.-Soviet condemnation of the military excursion in Egypt. A veto today against an American project would thus be the first. Hope that Russia joins France for a common veto is thin, given President Putin's desire to not have disputes with Washington.

Well, it sure has been a long time, hasn't it? In fact, as a direct veto of a U.S. policy aim it would be unprecedented since the very creation of the U.N. Chirac, it appears, has very ugly options. An abstention looks weak-kneed and cowardly (somewhat apropos, no?). A veto would be "considered an unfriendly act" as the U.S. Ambassador to France puts it. A yes vote, barring Saddam flouting the inspections regime in a way so dramatic that Chirac can crawl out from under his recalcitrant position, is hard to imagine given Saddam's somewhat adept tactical maneuverings. Well, you reap what you sow, I guess.



posted by Gregory| 2/27/2003 01:39:00 PM
 

Manhattan Unbowed

Not yet 16 months after the Towers crumbled, a new design has been picked.


posted by Gregory| 2/27/2003 12:09:00 PM


2/26/2003  

The Spirit of Ljubljana and The Influence of Religion on Dubya

Remember the Spirit of Ljubljana? On June 16th, 2001, George Bush and Vladimir Putin held their first summit in the Slovenian capital. Bush has mentioned something about looking into Vlado's eyes and feeling he had seen his soul. Neo-cons like Bill Safire and unreconstructed Kremlinologists gagged a bit. Bob Woodward, in his latest behind the scenes account of Washington D.C. crisis policymaking ("Bush At War"), has an interesting account of the first meeting as described by Dubya himself:

"And in comes Putin, and he sits down, and it's just me, Condi, Putin, whatever that guy--Rashilov, and the interpreter from both sides. And he wants to get started. And I said, 'Let me say something about what caught my attention, Mr. President, was that your mother gave you a cross which you had bless in Israel, the Holy Land.' And he said, 'It's true.' I said that amazed me, that here you were a Communist, KGB operative, and yet you were willing to wear a cross. 'That speaks volumes to me, Mr. President. May I call you Vladimir?'" So it became Vladimir and George after that, he said."

Thus was the Spirit of Ljubljana born. I share this with you because I have been arguing with many Europeans that Dubya is not motivated by religion regarding his desire to attack Iraq. The Euro-left consistently denigrates him as a religious nut. The unsubtle tactic is to equate Osama bin Laden's theocratic barbarism with an equally noxious Christian evangelical strain from the loony praries of Texas. It is an awful, relativistic canard. I refute it as often as I can.

Yet stories like the above continue to display that, for Dubya, religion does play an important role. Discovering Jesus and becoming a born-again Christian weened him off the bottle, salvaged his marriage, and allowed him to succeed in business and then politics. In short, religion changed the course of his life. No wonder then, that the final lines of his last SOTU read as follows:

"Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity.
We Americans have faith in ourselves, but not in ourselves alone. We do not know -- we do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history.
May He guide us now. And may God continue to bless the United States of America."

So, Bush is a religious nut, right? Are we going to be spilling innocent civilian blood for America's God, as Harold Pinter goes on about seemingly ad infinitum (when not describing Tony Blair as Dubya's hired "Christian thug")?

Far from it. Dubya merely taps into a long line of U.S. Presidents evoking religious imagery when speechifying about freedom. For Osama, religion is the kernel of the movement--he wishes to ban infidels, ie. non-Muslims, from the entire Arabian Peninsula. Dubya, just after the 9/11 attacks, visited the main mosque in Washington D.C. and called for tolerance of Muslims so as to stamp out the threat of revanchist killings. True, there is an evangelical fervor to Presidents like Wilson, Carter, Bush 43. But this language is used to support objectives that are firmly secular in nature, ie. Wilson's Four Principles, Carter's human rights initatives, Dubya's focus on disarming Saddam.

To close: "And it is imperative that we should stand together. We are being forged into a new unity amidst the fires that now blaze throughout the world. In their ardent heat we shall, in God's Providence, let us hope, be purged of faction and division, purified of the errant humors of party and of private interest, and shall stand forth in the days to come with a new dignity of national pride and spirit. Let each man see to it that the dedication is in his own heart, the high purpose of the nation in his own mind, ruler of his own will and desire. I stand here and have taken the high and solemn oath to which you have been audience because the people of the United States have chosen me for this august delegation of power and have by their gracious judgment named me their leader in affairs. know now what the task means. I realize to the full the responsibility which it involves. I pray God I may be given the wisdom and the prudence to do my duty in the true spirit of this great people."

Dubya again? Nope, this is taken straight from Woodrow Wilson's second inaugural speech.





posted by Gregory| 2/26/2003 10:58:00 PM
 

Historical Amnesia Watch

Jonathan Schell (who just after 9/11 had solid reportage on the felling of the Towers from his apartment location 8 blocks north of Ground Zero) now treats us to such mediocrity in (where else?) the pages of The Nation:

"When terrorists attacked the Pentagon and knocked down the World Trade Center on September 11, everyone marveled that nineteen men had coordinated their actions for evil with such efficiency. On February 15, 10 million coordinated their actions for good. February 15 was the people's answer to September 11."

Schell, like many breathless writers in likely spots like the Guardian or the Nation, is clearly very excited by the February 15th protests. I witnessed the one at Hyde Park and described it, in what I think were judicious tones, in this blog. The crowds were well behaved, sincere, many of the individuals were evocative of a middle Britannia fearful of the ramifications of a march to war. Dissent in a democracy--even when accompanied by a good dollop of moronic instincts--is welcome. But let's be clear. As oft-stated, we can assume with some conviction that the greatest threat in the 21st Century will come from the intersection of rogue states with WMD capability and transnational terror groups. We are on the cusp of a worrisome era of proliferation. The U.S., as the only state with the requisite power and sound instinct to lead, must draw the line with countries like Iraq and North Korea now to stem this potential tide of proliferation.

Saddam, in particular, has already shown his willingness to link up with terror groups like Abu Nidal's (and, more likely than not, with al-Qaeda). And as we all know, of course, he has shown no compunction in using WMD on his very on citizenry.

Given all this, Schell would have us equate protestors that are supporting irresponsible policies that will increase the likelihood of another (more massive) 9/11 occurring as the "good" counterpoint to the "evil" represented by the 19 hijackers on 9/11? How very wrong.

Schell should know better. He himself wrote shortly after 9/11 that: "It would be disrespectful of the dead to in any way minimize the catastrophe that has overtaken New York. Yet at the same time we must keep room in our minds for the fact that it could have been worse. To lose two huge buildings and the people in them is one thing; to lose all of Manhattan--or much, much more--is another. The emptiness in the sky can spread. We have been warned."

And now some have forgotten.


posted by Gregory| 2/26/2003 10:09:00 PM
 

Chirac's Eastern European Gaffe Redux

More commentary on why newish European precincts were so outraged by Chirac's comments at the recent EU summit:

"Chirac insulted all spent half a century tethered against their will to the Soviet Union. Many had to watch as Soviet tanks trampled their aspirations to independence. The Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania lost their short-lived interwar independence when they were annexed by Stalin. The Soviets crushed a Hungarian liberalization movement in 1956. Czechoslovakia's hopeful "Prague Spring" ended with Soviet invasion in 1968. On Moscow's orders, Poland's government suppressed the Solidarity movement and declared martial law in 1981. Since emerging from dictatorship, these countries have all been keen to join the EU, Western Europe's big democratic club. But they have no desire to replace the Soviets' yoke with that of Brussels--or Paris.

Just look at the swift reactions to Chirac's comments in the Eastern and Central European press. "Chirac has spanked us," complained Bulgaria's Trud the following day. "Candidate countries do not want to join the European Union to be quiet, but to express their opinion more forcefully," Slovakia's Pravda seethed. The Czech Republic's Dnes condemned Chirac as "a boor with little diplomacy." And Estonia's Postimees wondered "whether France really wants to recreate lines of division in Europe."



posted by Gregory| 2/26/2003 09:59:00 PM
 

Mexico Moving Towards Dubya

Mexico looks increasingly likely to support the second resolution. Here is the latest state of play:

Yes Votes: U.S., U.K., Spain, Bulgaria; Highly Probable Yes Votes: Mexico, Angola, Chile Toss-Ups: Pakistan, Guinea, Cameroon

Likely Abstentions: Russia, China (As indicated yesterday but see additional corroboration here).

No: Germany, Syria, France

A few points regarding the remaining toss-ups. If Musharraf could risk significant dissent with his intelligence services (ISI) regarding cooperating with the U.S. to attack the Taliban surely he can support this resolution. He has taken even more controversial stances than with the Taliban--when he clamped down significantly on cross-border excursions into Kashmir after Deputy Secretary of State Armitage toured the subcontinent to walk the parties back from a potential nuclear precipice. If he could carry through and survive those two momentous policy decisions--I suspect he can easily handle whatever domestic discontent might stem from a U.N. vote.

Guinea, as previously discussed, has been cooperating with the U.S. military on its training needs and, as between France and the U.S., will probably end up with the States. Cameroon I guess sticks with France because of its majority Francophone orientation and more limited cooperation with the U.S. on military matters than Guinea. (contra the blustery talk by former US Ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson on CNN yesterday that "Cameroon hates France").

But even sans Cameroon, assuming the Adminstration gets the "highly probables," the resolution would find nine yes votes if Pakistan and Guinea were on board as I am predicting. Again, I ask, will Chirac veto if Putin abstains?

posted by Gregory| 2/26/2003 07:36:00 PM


2/25/2003  

UNSC Watch

The first in a series monitoring the progress of the US-UK-Spanish resolution through the UNSC apparatus. Note, of course, that decisions on substantive matters require nine votes, "including the concurring votes of the five permanent members." This, according to the U.N., is known as the rule of "great power unanimity," more commonly referred to as the veto power.

Sponsors:

U.S., U.K. and Spain

Affirmatives

Bulgaria

Probable Yes Votes:

Chile, Angola

Toss-Ups:

Mexico, Pakistan, Cameroon, Guinea

Likely Absentions:

Russia, China

No:

Syria, Germany, France(?)

If Putin abstains dare Chirac veto? That (and getting three of the toss up countries on board) are the key questions at this hour.

Update: The U.S. has dispatched the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs to Angola and he will travel onwards to Guinea and Cameroon. Note that the U.S. is Angola's largest purchaser of oil. Cameroon is considered a traditional French ally but there are increasing U.S.-Cameroonian economic ties of late. Guinea may espouse a pan-African approach giving inspectors more time to stress its traditional independence from great powers (though this time France and Germany will be bearing down on it in addition to the U.S.). Guinea also has a military force trained and equipped by the U.S.

On Mexico and Chile, we can be sure Madrid is applying pressure as well as Washington. Vincente Fox, previously burned by Washington when bilateral relations were demphasized post-9/11, will be the harder sell.

posted by Gregory| 2/25/2003 11:59:00 AM
 

Is Saddam Using Dan Rather?

Great scoop for CBS and Dan. But I think I have an idea what Saddam is up to. By pretending to be defiant regarding the al-Samoud missiles during the interview with Rather, he continues to make public hay about an ancillary issue not directly related to his tucked away stockpiles of WMD. He thus positions himself to dramatically offer another "concession" (ultimately agreeing to destroy said missiles) just when the likes of Angola, Chile, Pakistan, Guinea, Cameroon and Mexico are deciding whether to go with the Washington-London-Madrid second resolution or the "go slow" Franco-German approach. Imagine the enthusiastic Gallic shrieks that will emanate from Dominique de Villepin's Quai D'Orsay regarding how well the inspections are working should Saddam move to destroy the missiles!

Bush must continue to use the presidential bully pulpit to ensure that the international community remains focused on the missing mustard gas, anthrax and botulinum toxin rather than the missiles. Of course, Saddam may be smarter than all this and simply have concluded that war is inevitable and thus he better hold on to the missiles. But I suspect he is still holding out that division among the UNSC might still provide him an out thus leading to his continued machinations and brinkmanship a la Dan Rather interview.

posted by Gregory| 2/25/2003 11:30:00 AM
 

Gerard and Jacques Dining in Berlin

At a restaurant called "Final Appeal." No, I am not making this up. Franco-German diplomacy is moving perilously close to the realm of clownish bufoonery.

Update: A NYT story has the name of the "tavern" as The Last Appeal contra the WaPo's Final Appeal. This story also has Schroder quoted with remarks concerning how old Europe is more reticent to go to war because of two world wars and a decade of Balkan conflict. Of course, it's the U.S. that (finally) dispatched Dick Holbrooke to pull off a Bosnia settlement at Dayton. The Europeans, after famously declaring that the "hour of Europe" had arrived, bungled any coherent approach to the Balkan crisis as they were riven by internal divisions. Sound familiar?

posted by Gregory| 2/25/2003 11:02:00 AM
 

It is Already Final

Decision on war in Iraq, that is. The WaPo has the definitive story today on the state of play regarding last minute UNSC maneuverings. Meanwhile, the NYT's angle is that Dubya has gone back to the UNSC primarily as a favor to Blair.

Keeping in mind that John Bolton is the most hawkish member of Powell's State Department, here is the key language:

"In meetings yesterday with senior officials in Moscow, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton told the Russian government that "we're going ahead," whether the council agrees or not, a senior administration official said. "The council's unity is at stake here."

A senior diplomat from another council member said his government had heard a similar message and was told not to anguish over whether to vote for war.

"You are not going to decide whether there is war in Iraq or not," the diplomat said U.S. officials told him. "That decision is ours, and we have already made it. It is already final. The only question now is whether the council will go along with it or not."

Looks like a done deal, doesn't it?

posted by Gregory| 2/25/2003 10:35:00 AM


2/24/2003  

Keep Quiet, Shut Up, Behave Better--What Exactly Did Jacques Say to New Europe?

The subtleties of the French language.

posted by Gregory| 2/24/2003 08:33:00 PM
 

Time to Cool the Nuke Talk

Too much loose talk of potential use of nuclear weaponry in a war on Iraq? Michael Levi thinks so. I tend to agree, but note that he avoids addressing the issue of how to respond if Saddam were to employ WMD against coalition troops.

Regardless, the Administration would be better served by following the old James Baker line to Tariq Aziz from the first Gulf War that the "severest consequences" could flow from Iraqi use of WMD against U.S. troops (rather than have Andy Card refusing to rule in our out possible use of nukes on the Sunday talk circuit).

One quibble with Herbert Walker and Baker's severest consequences threat, however. The threat applied to, not only a WMD attack on U.S. troops, but also destruction of oil fields or the sponsoring of a terror attack on the U.S.

It would be better to focus Saddam (who wasn't deterred in 1991 regarding oil fields and so called Baker's bluff) and issue the severest consequences threat solely as regards his possible use of WMD. That should focus Saddam on the ramifications of WMD use on either of coalition troops or through terror attacks. Saddam would take the threat more seriously if we didn't extend it to a conventional terror attack or oil field destruction. Besides, imagine world reaction if we went nuclear over the destruction of oil fields.

posted by Gregory| 2/24/2003 07:50:00 PM
 

How Nasty Could it Get?

Zeev Schiff writing in Haaretz reports that the U.S. presented additional sensitive intelligence information to the French regarding Iraq's WMD capability. According to Schiff, the French were unimpressed (seemingly locked into a beef-up-the-inspections-position and not willing to be swayed).

Is Washington considering other pressure tactics?

"While the demonstrations and activities designed to foment hatred for the U.S. continued in public, behind the scenes the Americans took off the gloves. They decided to go back to the Security Council with the aim of getting a resolution passed that will enable them to use force against the Iraqis. It has been learned that in order to forestall a French veto, the Americans have warned Paris that their reaction to a veto will include rules and regulations that will be aimed against the French economy and the economic relations between the two countries. A similar American threat worked against the Japanese in the past."

Schiff's source was probably exagerrating U.S. economic threats in case of a French veto. But the mood is getting so poisonous a la Schroder, who knows? It bears noting that individuals like Richard Perle are increasingly reserving their special scorn for the French rather than the Germans. Sanctions on Brie and Burgundy? Doubtful, but one smells a turn towards nastier diplomatic brinksmanship may be in the offing regardless.

posted by Gregory| 2/24/2003 07:02:00 PM
 

Cherry-Picking on the Continent

John Hulsman of the Heritage Foundation on a new U.S. strategy towards Europe (Old and New).

Key language: "Europe thus combines grandiose ambition with an utter failure to create the circumstances where it can be realised. The task for the US thus becomes ever clearer. American policy-makers need to separate rhetoric from reality in Europe, and understand that the very lack of European unity that hamstrings European Gaullist efforts to challenge the United States presents America with a unique opportunity.

If Europe is more about diversity than uniformity, if the concept of a unified ‘Europe’ does not really exist, then a general American transatlantic foreign policy based on ‘cherry-picking’ – engaging coalitions of willing European allies on a case-by-case basis – becomes entirely possible.

Such a stance is palpably in America’s interests, as it provides a method of managing transatlantic drift while remaining engaged with a continent that will rarely be wholly for, or wholly against, specific American foreign policy initiatives."

Comment: U.S. policy has strived for decades to help foster greater European unity. Rumsfeld's locutions (and increasingly boorish German-French avoidance of pursuing a judicious analysis of Saddam's non-compliance with Resolution 1441) have dealt significant blows to our oft-declared strategic ambition of furthering Euro-cohesion. But are we really ready to throw this strategy out because of the current crisis? Better to let tempers cool and revisit the possibility of more traditional dealings with pan-European institutions, no?

That said, on Iraq, a French veto would force intensified Hulsman-style cherry-picking in a very big way. Transatlantic relations therefore increasingly appear to be approaching a critical juncture. Would Chirac really precipitate such a crisis? Or is he busy ferreting out an 11th hour flip-flop rationale that puts him back in the U.S. camp? I'd still like to hope he will switch over to the U.S. position but his public remarks are increasingly limiting his wriggle room and constraining him in the manner of Gerard Schroder imbecilic campaign proclamations.


posted by Gregory| 2/24/2003 02:47:00 PM
 

Napoleon's Spirit Driving French Policy?

Bob Kagan thinks so.

posted by Gregory| 2/24/2003 02:33:00 PM


2/21/2003  

Turkey Update

Looks like a "broad agreement" has been reached between Turkey and the U.S. so that the northern front will be fully active. Good news, but I'm still concerned about Kurdish reaction to a large Turkish troop presence and Ankara's potential for mischief under the guise of protecting Turkomens in the area (ie, they stay too long and scuttle creation of a federated Kurdish entity). But the good news is that Mosul and Kirkuk will be off limits to both Turks and Kurds under provisional U.S. control. Hopefully these oil rich areas can then be transferred to the appropriate Iraqi technocrats as the oil sector is resucitated under local leadership with an even playing field provided for the international oil sector players.

posted by Gregory| 2/21/2003 11:54:00 PM


2/20/2003  

Did a U.S. Lobbyist Draft the "Vilnius 10" Letter?

A bit sensationalistic for the Trib to run with this story which, to me, appears on the hyperbolic side. But please judge for yourselves. Or as Paul Krugman might (laughably) end a typical column: I report, you decide!

posted by Gregory| 2/20/2003 10:14:00 AM
 

Chirac Backtracks From EU Summit Outburst--Latin Temper Must Have Gotten the Better of Him!

Chirac is walking back (via a spokeswoman rather than personally, at least so far) from his inflammatory comments to the East Europeans regarding intimations that he might try to keep them out of the EU because of their pro-war-in-Iraq stance. The IHT has the story.

posted by Gregory| 2/20/2003 10:07:00 AM
 

What the Anti-War Protests Really Accomplish

Solid reporting in the WaPo regarding Baghdad's continued brinksmanship. Partly heartened by the outpouring of anti-war sentiment over the weekend, Saddam is ratcheting down any of his previous supposed "cooperation."

Key language: President Saddam Hussein's government, apparently emboldened by antiwar sentiment at the U.N. Security Council and in worldwide street protests, has not followed through on its promises of increased cooperation with U.N. arms inspectors, according to inspectors in Iraq. No Iraqi scientist involved in biological, chemical or missile technology has consented to a private interview with the inspectors since Feb. 7, the day before the two chief U.N. inspectors arrived here for talks with Iraqi officials. The United Nations also has not received additional documents about past weapons programs, despite the government's pledge to set up a commission to scour the country for evidence sought by the inspectors, U.N. officials said."

And: "...the inspectors have been unable to interview any other nuclear, biological or missile expert in private. They have asked to question 28 non-nuclear scientists, but most have insisted on having a government representative present. Although five non-nuclear scientists did agree to questioning without a government representative, they each insisted on making a tape recording of the session. The inspectors refused to go forward with those interviews because of concern that making a tape, which likely would wind up in the government's hands, would dissuade the scientists from providing candid answers."

"The tape recorder has been the stumbling block," one U.N. official said.

Of course, as a second resolution makes the rounds and rumors swirl that Blix's next report will be tougher on Iraq than his last one--Saddam will sheperd a few more scientists (perhaps even without tape recorders in tow!) towards the interviewers. The French and Germans will doubtless leap on such heightened cooperation and proclaim to all that, step by step, the inspections are working. This time, however, we have a U.S. President who isn't going to fall into the "hide and seek" and "cheat and retreat" ploys. Saddam doesn't appear to fully understand that, or is just dragging out the endgame to better position his defenses around Tikrit, assorted WMD-sites, and Baghdad.



posted by Gregory| 2/20/2003 07:20:00 AM
 

Give the Turks More Money, But Don't Give Them Kirkuk

In this fast-moving Iraq crisis the issue of the day (at least at this early hour) appears to be Turkey's continued refusal to commit to allowing a contingent of U.S. troops to be based in eastern Turkey so that the U.S. has easy access to a northern front (of course, smaller numbers of troops could be parachuted in and the like but such methods are far from ideal).

The NYT's main take here. They also have a masthead (which doesn't really say anything) and two additional stories (here and here) that don't really add much either. Note: Ever notice how the NYT will sometimes choose their "story of the day," have one main newsy article about it and then a couple "analyses" style pieces that, although peppered with quotes, don't reallly add too much? But I digress.

Key point: Still, an administration official said other issues were in contention in negotiating with the Turks — namely, the future of the Turkish military presence in northern Iraq and the Turkish desire for some oil concession at Kirkuk in Iraq."The Turks want to control the operation at Kirkuk, at a minimum through a pipeline," the official said. "That's in a way a better deal for them than American aid."
But Mr. Bush and his aides have often said Iraq's oil is for the benefit of the Iraqi people, and they realize that any discussion of guaranteeing access to the oil to Turkey — or any other nation — would make it appear that the war is about oil rights, not weapons of mass destruction.

Ankara's demand for special access to Kirkuk, even if just limited to favorable pipeline transit rights, should be a showstopper. As the U.S. counters the myth that this looming conflict with Iraq is about oil, the Administration must do all in its power to avoid being seen to be trading oil concessions later for alliance participation now.

As an excellent report jointly prepared by the Baker Institute for Public Policy and the CFR pointed out a few weeks back, a key U.S. post-conflict goal regarding Iraq's oil sector should be to set about creating an even playing field among interested international parties (O.K, except the French!) and to make sure non-corrupt Iraqi technocrats are quickly put in control of the sector. Deals with the Turks on Kirkuk even before the conflict starts would put the lie to such plans and give real ammunition to the anti-war forces throughout the world attempting to depict U.S. motivations as an unadulterated oil-grab.

posted by Gregory| 2/20/2003 06:25:00 AM


2/19/2003  

Chirac is a Vulgar, Unsubtle and Bullying Thug!

Or so sayeth Tony Blankley in the Wash Times. The French Ambassador to Wash DC probably dropped his croissant when he got Blankley's op-ed in his morning press clippings. And in a little noticed detail Blankley informs us that Chirac lectured the Poles et al. when they were not even in the room! How, eh, Vichy-like of him.

Blankley: "Adding cowardice to hypocrisy, President Chirac insisted on hurling his threats without his target nations being present. According to the Associated Press report, Britain, Spain and other EU nations had suggested that the candidate nations attend the Monday emergency summit on Iraq, but France and Germany refused to let them in. Then, with the representatives of Poland, Hungary and the other countries safely barred from the conference, the heroic French President unsheathed his verbal sword and smote his absent allies with economic blackmail threats."

Un peu triste, non?

posted by Gregory| 2/19/2003 11:04:00 PM
 

Aznar, Berlusconi, Blair--The Pressure Mounts

Italy's biggest labor union threatens a strike if war breaks out. Aznar and Blair's poll numbers are sinking (Aznar's party has less support than the Socialists for the first time since he came to power three years ago). The WaPo has the story here.

And just think, what if Italy and Spain happened to have center-left governments in power during the continuing crisis over Iraq? Believe me, there are no Blairite lefties in Spain or Italy. Portugal would likely also have been less cooperative given Spain's stance in such a scenario. Old Europe would have included several more countries. The U.S. would have been left with the U.K. and Eastern/Central Europe touting its Iraq line.

Of course, it's no coincidence the three biggest protests were in Rome, Madrid and London. I trust none of these leaders will buckle. The problem, however, is they all would desparately like a second resolution. Would Chirac dare veto it to spite his Euro rivals whom he views as Dubya vassals that could use a muscular Gaullist slap-down (or is that an oxymoron)? He just might, despite my earlier inclinations that the French would be with us at crunch-time.

posted by Gregory| 2/19/2003 10:25:00 PM
 

Iranian Troops in Northern Iraq

The situation in northern Iraq remain fluid and complex. The FT has a story (stangely not getting much press elsewhere for the time being) that Iranian troops have crossed into northern Iraq.

"Iranian officials insist that force's role in the north is defensive but its presence will exacerbate the concerns of the US and especially the Arab world that military intervention in Iraq will lead to a permanent disintegration of the country. Through inserting a proxy force, Iran is underlining that it cannot be ignored in future discussions over Iraq's make-up."

Meanwhile, as Peter Galbraith points out in the NYT, the Kurds appear disgruntled that the U.S. may be going too far in its concessions to Ankara to get them on board.


posted by Gregory| 2/19/2003 01:09:00 PM
 

Mugabe in Paris

Wait, I thought Chirac wanted all and sundry to toe the EU line (or its Franco-German variant) on matters large and small. Then why is he violating an EU-imposed visa ban on Mugabe? Surely not to tout the Zimbabwean ruler's human rights record.

posted by Gregory| 2/19/2003 12:08:00 PM
 

Brit Troops Without Loo Paper

British troops in the Gulf are missing some essentials.

And, on the food front, the fare looks grim:

"After the 1991 Gulf War, discarded MREs were found all over the desert. The Americans have brought huge stocks with them because one of the plans is to drop MREs over Iraq to feed hungry Iraqis. Often called meals-rejected-by-everyone, the MRE diet includes chicken à la king — known as chicken à la death — and smokey frankfurters. The British military rations, which include one roll of loo paper, boast tasty delicacies such as Lancashire hot pot, beef stew, chicken pasta and sausage and baked beans."

I'd go with the hot dogs rather than the hot pot.

posted by Gregory| 2/19/2003 12:02:00 PM
 

Kerry At Midtown Cipriani

The Dems lead '04 act is hitting the hustings and raising cash in Manhattan.

Prospects, barring Tet on the Tigris, look grim.

"And Democratic donors, still reeling from their party's disastrous midterm election results, were openly expressing an almost mournful level of skepticism about the party's prospects of defeating President George Bush in an election in 2004".

"In a measure of just how dispirited New York donors had become, Melvin Weiss, a Manhattan class-action lawyer and top money man, sent out a letter on Jan. 6 to some 19 of "the most active contributors and fundraisers" to invite them to a "brainstorming session" on how to pool their support to greatest effect. "I am sure that we all feel the same frustration over our party's inability to field a winning candidate for President," the letter read."



posted by Gregory| 2/19/2003 09:47:00 AM
 

Message to Jacques: You are Not our Papa

More on Jacques' parody of Gaullism at the EU Summit.

Money quote: "In the European family there are no mommies, no daddies and no kids -- it is a family of equals," said the Polish foreign minister, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz.




posted by Gregory| 2/19/2003 09:42:00 AM
 

Le Monde Diplomatique Lashes Out at the "Vassals"

Le Monde Diplomatique is considered a source of top-drawer pensees on French foreign policy thinking. Their current lead story, sadly, leaves much to be desired. All countries allied with the U.S. stance on Iraq are simply described as vassals. Opening paragraph in the original French below.

"Tout indique désormais que la guerre des Etats-Unis et de quelques-uns de leurs vassaux contre l'Irak aura bien lieu.

Translation: Nevertheless, all indications are that the war of the U.S. and several of its vassals against Iraq will occur."

But wasn't it Jacques who was just warning Romania and the like to behave lest they be kept out of the privileged precincts of the Berlin-Brussels-Paris club? And Bush didn't twist arms on, for instance, getting the"Gang of Eight" to write their letter. Methinks Jacques (and the French foreign policy commentariat) are peeved that enarque diktats are being ignored by rowdy Slavs to their East.

posted by Gregory| 2/19/2003 09:04:00 AM
 

Yes, We've Definitely Left the Clinton Era Behind

The impact of the anti-war protests on Bush appear minimal.

Bush: "Size of protest — it's like deciding, well, I'm going to decide policy based upon a focus group," Mr. Bush said in response to a reporter's question at the White House. "The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon the security, in this case, the security of the people."

Contrast this with the spinmeisters who outnumbered foreign policy advisors in the room when Clinton made decisions on Somalia. Or his constant use of Dick Morris to poll and gauge reaction as to the possible use of force in Bosnia. And speaking of Dick Morris...

posted by Gregory| 2/19/2003 08:58:00 AM
 

Chirac To Bucharest, Sofia etc, You've Been "Badly Brought Up"

Jacques is beginining to look as bumbling as Gerard Schroder. More reportage on his school-marm emoting at the EU summit here.

Some key language: "This will strengthen nationalist arguments," Mr. Gati said. "They will say the West is not only selfish but divided, and we can't count on it."

Sorin Ionita, director of the Romanian Academic Society, a leading think tank in Bucharest, said: "If France wants to lose all the sympathy it has in the East, this is the way to do it, to say you little guys will have to listen to us forever. You don't hear this kind of language from the United States."

Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, who initiated one of the controversial letters supporting Washington, insisted today that the candidate countries should not be silenced.

"They have as much right to speak up as Great Britain or France or any other member of the European Union today," Mr. Blair said.

posted by Gregory| 2/19/2003 07:51:00 AM


2/18/2003  

Some Young Yalies Are Getting It

O.K, so we might not be returning to the bygone days of Buckley's God and Man at Yale. But this story is heartening for those who have been dismayed by the liberal encroachments in academia for many decades. Now if only my sister (Yale '05) will shift rightwards!

Key language from article: "What surprised me was the existence of a determined conservative clique on the right," he said. "I wasn't expecting that there would be this counter-reaction to Yale liberalism."

The Institute's study found that more of this year's freshmen called themselves conservative compared to last year's freshmen, who were surveyed before the Sept. 11 attacks. Forty-five percent of students -- an all-time high -- expressed support for increasing federal military spending. The number of students who labeled their politics conservative increased from 19.1 percent to 20.0 percent, while the number of self-labeled liberals decreased from 29.9 percent to 27.8 percent."

Modest upticks to be sure, but a positive trend nonetheless.

posted by Gregory| 2/18/2003 05:19:00 PM
 

Turks Playing Hard Ball?

I normally take much of what I read in Debka with a grain of salt. I suspect that about a quarter of their information may be purposeful Mossad disinformation. But the latest they are reporting appears credible given news stories overnight about increasing Turkish reticence regarding allowing U.S. troops to enter Iraq from the so-called northern front.

Debka reports: "Turkish President Sezer warns no American troops will be allowed in his country without second Security Council resolution on Iraq. He did not specify content of resolution"

This would make a French (or Russian or Chinese) veto a bigger issue than before as, if true, the lack of a second resolution would be a showstopper for the Turks vis-a-vis allowing GIs to operate in significant numbers out of eastern Turkey.

I'm picking up on some "gut" feelings that indicate people think the chances of an imminent conflict are waning. The markets appear to be betting on a delay or cancellation of war plans. The combination of strident opposition at the UNSC from France and Russia, the massive protests over the weekend, the recalcitrance of the Turks, among other factors--all are giving observers pause. Is there anything to this? I certainly wouldn't bet on it.

UPDATE: Here's what the Turkish government is really after.

posted by Gregory| 2/18/2003 04:09:00 PM
 

Hush, Little Ones

The above appears to have been Jacques Chirac's message to wayward Central and Eastern European countries hoping to join the EU. Bien sur, said countries are now fuming over the statements at yesterday's EU summit.

posted by Gregory| 2/18/2003 01:48:00 PM
 

The Spirit of Belgium

TNR comes through on the recent (and depressing) Berlin-Paris-Brussels machinations:

Key paragraph: "There are some European states, some NATO members, who understand the justice of the American campaign and the necessity of American leadership. If Americans are from Mars, some Europeans are from Vilnius. And Spain and Italy have demonstrated that even old Europeans know how to exist in the present. But then there is Belgium, which roars that the weapons inspectors in Iraq must be given more time. There was once a great French poet whose cherished term for mediocrity was l'esprit Belge. This week l'esprit Belge is running wild in geopolitics. Never mind. The bruised ego of Europe is less dangerous to the world than the hidden arsenal of Saddam Hussein. And our cultural affinity for Europe has outlived our strategic affinity for Europe. The American sense of the world is right and clear: nation-building in Kabul and Baghdad, vacation-building in Paris and Berlin. The world really has changed."

Was Rimbaud the French poet who treated the Belgians with such derision? What would he have made of the pitiable to-and-fros at NATO headquarters this week?



posted by Gregory| 2/18/2003 01:26:00 AM
 

How Osama and Gang Recruit

An excellent piece in the NYT co-written by my college friend Desmond Butler provides a window into al-Qaeda recruitment tactics:

"During the late 1990's, Mr. Abdullah said, he lived off German welfare and odd jobs while trying to obtain asylum. He said that Mr. Dhess coached him through a story for an asylum application as an Iraqi, but that his chances looked bleak when he failed to describe the Iraqi flag to German immigration officials. "My life became very empty," he said. "I was entangled in drugs and spent all my money. For this reason I accepted the offer of food from a mosque. It was cheap and I could pay at the end of the month. The condition was that I would have to engage myself with Islam."

Hint: That means more than praying five times a day and heading to the Hajj with this gang.

It's an old story, of course. Take advantage of a weak, disoriented, panicked, lonely and uprooted individual. Provide some succor and companionship. Then send them to do your grotesque bidding in places like Bali, NYC, Kenya.





posted by Gregory| 2/18/2003 12:38:00 AM


2/17/2003  

And Now, The Transcaucasus Group!

From Lisbon to Warsaw, Vilnius to Madrid, London, Rome and Copenhagen to, Yerevan, Tbilisi, and Baku? Let me ask you, when is the last time Yerevan and Baku agreed on anything?

posted by Gregory| 2/17/2003 11:47:00 PM
 

Will The White House be the Kremlin of the 21st Century?

Princeton academic Arno Mayer thinks so. Sorry, no time to translate from the French. Any readers have the original English (I can't track it down on Google)? If so please E-mail to me and I will post.

Early hint, however, as to how Mayer goes about making this wacky comparison. Like Jacques and Gerard--he appears a bit put off that the Vilnius Group and others in Central and Eastern Europe prefer Dubya's Iraq stance to Joshka Fischer's. From here it's an easy leap that we are exerting Kremlin-style totalitarian control over the region, right? Well, if your tenured at Princeton it is.

posted by Gregory| 2/17/2003 11:15:00 PM
 

War Timing

The U.S. may not be so alarmed that UNSC deliberations look set to go into at least early March or even later. Here's why.

Key language: "You don't need to train them so much, but you have to make sure their equipment gets there. A lot of equipment is in the Gulf region, but if there is to be a major element operating out of Turkey, for instance, it's going to take two to three weeks to get equipment to Turkey and only two to three days to get the troops there. But the Turks haven't agreed yet. That's why it is at least a month away, if we started today, so it is likely to be March, and not February. It could end up in April."

Well the Turks still haven't agreed (the interview above appeared February 5th). Assuming Pentagon planners really want/need the Northern Front, they will need the extra few weeks, it appears.

posted by Gregory| 2/17/2003 10:32:00 PM
 

The Price of Conviction

But he won't go wobbly as he understands the stakes fully.

posted by Gregory| 2/17/2003 09:29:00 PM


2/16/2003  

Now Just Imagine What the Scientists Would Say If They Were Allowed Out of Iraq!

John Burns has an important piece in today's NYT. Bottom line: There are some misgivings about the duration of an American led conflict, collateral damage (let's be clear, civilian deaths), target selection and how the post-conflict situation will be handled by the U.S. That said, at least according to the men veteran correspondent Burns found in Amman, Iraqis are all but begging the U.S. to go into Baghdad and liberate them from the yoke of Saddam's tyranny.

"Gathered around kerosene heaters in their tenements, the Iraqi men talk of a coming conflict, and what it will mean for them and their families. Since all gatherings inside Iraq take place in the shadow of Mr. Hussein's terror, with police spies lurking in every neighborhood, the talk in Amman offers a chance to discover what at least some Iraqis really think, and what they hope for now. Almost to a man, these Iraqis said they wanted the Iraqi dictator removed. Better still, they said — and it was a point made again and again — they wanted him dead. The men, some in their teens, some in their 50's, told of grotesque repression, of relatives and friends tortured, raped and murdered or, as often, arrested and "disappeared."

Pity the vast majority of the anti-war protestors who marched yesterday won't see this piece. Of course, it likely wouldn't change many minds. There is a reflexive disdain and innate suspicion of all U.S. led actions that unites large swaths of the left. Still, such a piece would make fair-minded dissenters pause (if they gave a damn about the fate of an entire Arab nation--which they very well may not).

The problem with all this, of course, is that the war may not be short, innocents may die in significant numbers, a post-war American administration might lag longer than expected (given tribal/sectarian rifts). But isn't this a risk worth taking given Saddam's people yearn for freedom and the U.S. has made a strategic decision to rid him of his WMD-capability which, despite feckless French prattle to the contrary at the UNSC, Saddam defiantly refuses to do per 1441?

posted by Gregory| 2/16/2003 06:50:00 PM
 

The Holiday from History

Krauthammer nails it. Remember too, as you read this op-ed, that one of Clinton's first public reactions to 9/11 was to rue that his Presidency would never have a chance of rising to the level of the "greats" (Washington, Lincoln, FDR) as he hadn't been presented with an event of the magnitude of 9/11 during his watch. Grotesque solipsism, but wearily predictable.

posted by Gregory| 2/16/2003 02:40:00 PM
 

Lunch with Pinter

The FT sits down with Pinter--who is very obsessed with American bombs (part of his Hyde Park rally poem too):

"I remember a woman called Eve-Ann Prentice wrote a very powerful book, called One Woman's War about Kosovo. She happened to be in a village when the Americans dropped bombs on the marketplace. They said it was a mistake. It wasn't. There was a woman sitting there, with her five-year-old daughter, eating sandwiches. And the next thing was that the woman looked up and her daughter's head was in the gutter. Pfhook! The point I am striving to make is that the reality of that girl's head in the gutter doesn't come into the reckoning. The only deaths that were not an abstraction to the Americans were the deaths in New York - because they were American deaths. You see death when it's you; but not when it's them."

Typical Pinter, of course. But what rankles is that he makes no attempt to differentiate between U.S. war aims in Kosovo (stopping a genocidal leader from ethnically cleansing hundreds of thousands of Muslim Kosovars out of Yugoslavia) versus Osama bin Laden's purposeful massacre of as many Americans as possible in NYC on 9/11. Why can't Pinter even mention, in passing, this elemental difference? On the one hand, a predominately Christian nation goes to war to protect a Muslim minority. On the other, an Islamic fanatic tries to kill as many "infidels" as possible. But these are surely just nettlesome little details that we shouldn't get bogged down with, right?

There is more rapacious anti-Americanism that is not balanced by any empirical analysis during lunch with the FT. The mention of the marketplace bomb (likely meant to confuse readers and conjure images of the Bosnian Serb gunners over Sarajevo) that was allegedly purposefully dropped by the U.S. military? Pinter breezily states the bombing was done on purpose. How does Pinter know it wasn't a mistake? He hasn't a clue. But so it goes with soi disant intellectuals in Europe. Piss on the Yanks--it makes good copy and gets you more dinner party invites. After all, it can't be the quality of his poetry (below a January 2003 selection):

God Bless America

Here they go again,
The Yanks in their armoured parade
Chanting their ballads of joy
As they gallop across the big world
Praising America's God.

The gutters are clogged with the dead
The ones who couldn't join in
The others refusing to sing
The ones who are losing their voice
The ones who've forgotten the tune.

The riders have whips which cut.
Your head rolls onto the sand
Your head is a pool in the dirt
Your head is a stain in the dust
Your eyes have gone out and your nose
Sniffs only the pong of the dead
And all the dead air is alive
With the smell of America's God.


posted by Gregory| 2/16/2003 01:35:00 PM


2/15/2003  

Flashback

Reading the left of center European press can be a depressing experience for readers concerned about the state of U.S.-Euro relations. As previously mentioned, we are far removed from Le Monde's headline of 9/12/01 "We Are All Americans Now." So I post this reminder of the mood in leftish precincts of the European press after 9/11 (here, The Guardian) to remind us how the feelings of empathy for the U.S. have diminished so dramatically in the past 16 odd months.

posted by Gregory| 2/15/2003 11:24:00 PM
 

Hyde Park February 15th, 2003

It was a big rally, all right. Probably the largest in British history. Around 750,000 to 1,000,000 persons ended in or around Hyde Park protesting the impending war in Iraq. I began to hear the low din of anti-war chanting from my flat in Belgravia around 1:30 in the afternoon and made my way to the park shortly thereafter. It was an odd experience to shiver in the cold London afternoon and listen to speaker after speaker bash the U.S. and (more often) W. Never did I expect that I would be present at a rally where Jesse Jackson began praying, requested that all present hold the hand of a person next to you and then have my hand clutched by a perfect stranger as hundreds of thousands prayed collectively.

The woman who grabbed my hand was likely in her late 40s. She appeared a typical middle class Briton, perhaps a schoolteacher from central England, a small shopkeeper, a librarian? When she grabbed my hand I glimpsed at her face. She wore an expression of real concern and fear. I suspect a good chunk of the protestors (not the old line Yank haters, hard left, anarchist fringe etc) attended this march more out of fear of the ramifications of a conflict than out of deep-seated grievances on this or that policy issue.

What am I saying? I'm saying that Bush and Blair have more work to do. They have to a) persuade more of the public of why Saddam is in breach of 1441, and b) reassure the public that they have a workable plan for post-war Iraq. Blair, in particular, has to appeal to the great middle of the British polity in the coming days and make his case with greater intensity than he has before. Much of the public is confused, fearful, in need of additional explanations from its leaders.

This undertone of general anxiety and fear aside, there was much that was offensive and predictable about the rally. The war is solely about oil, I heard repeatedly. The U.S. has more WMD than any other nation on earth, why doesn't it disarm? (It hasn't used WMD since WWII, Saddam has repeatedly in the past decade plus, for starters). Amidst Chirac for PM signs, George Galloway amused the crowd by stating that he would rather be eating cheese on the Left Bank reading Sartre than chomping on popcorn amidst the guns and bibles of Crawford, Texas. Ken Livingstone stated that W didn't give a damn about human rights. There was repeated reference to the plight of the Palestinians and invective hurled at Sharon--with express linkage being made between Iraq and the ongoing problems in the Holy Land. More rationally, some speakers broached the theme about why non-enforced U.N. resolutions dealing with Israel were of no particular concern to the American government in sharp distinction to violated U.N. resolutions dealing with Iraq. Yoko Ono couldn't make it, but a message was read on her behalf. The gist: imagine this or that. Bianca Jagger blathered on a bit about when a nation can legally go to war (no surprise, the U.S. had no legal justification in legal eagle Bianca's estimation). Harold Pinter painted the U.S. government as run by sociopaths and war criminals and then, when he began reciting poetry, got even nastier.

And, of course, there was the young woman puffing on a joint who, missing the beginning of a chant, turned to her friends and queried: "what are we supposed to be saying now?"

Peace in our time, perhaps?

posted by Gregory| 2/15/2003 10:12:00 PM
 

Some Backbone from the New York Times

Today's NYT editorial makes the key point that nothing we heard from Blix yesterday convincingly shows that Saddam is or will comply with 1441. Key language:

"The Security Council, as we said the other day, needs to pass a new resolution that sets a deadline for unconditional Iraqi compliance and authorizes military action if Baghdad falls short. Without that, the French proposal that Mr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei report again in mid-March is the diplomatic equivalent of treading water. It practically invites President Bush to take the undesirable step of going to war without the support of the Security Council.Just as they did last month, the inspectors offered a mixed picture that allowed all sides to draw sustenance for their arguments. What should not be missed is that the positive aspects of the reports dealt largely with secondary matters like process and access. On the essential issue of active Iraqi cooperation in the disclosure and destruction of prohibited unconventional weapons, the inspectors could find little encouraging to say."

It is heartening to see the NYT developing a more nuanced view of the UNSC deliberations. As the Times more or less says, waiting until March 15th, sadly, just isn't an option. If the French stick to their position the U.S. must either a) craft a resolution that vaguely calls for "serious consequences" that the French merely abstain on allowing Bush/Blair to enjoy the imprimatur of a second resolution (particularly important for Blair given the approximately 80% of Britons who oppose going to war without a second resolution) or b) announce that "further discussions" at the UNSC have taken place as per Resolution 1441, that certain member states deem Iraq in material breach, and to proceed with forging a coalition of the willing to disarm an obdurate Saddam. Choice "B" should be pursued if it appears likely that the French will bog down even a watered down resolution so that the process would drag on into mid-March or beyond anyway.


posted by Gregory| 2/15/2003 10:45:00 AM


2/14/2003  

Blix's Report

Let me share a couple portions of Blix's report that go a long way towards showing what is wrong with the entire inspections process.

1) "While we were in Baghdad, we met a delegation from the government of South Africa. It was there to explain how South Africa gained the confidence of the world in its dismantling of the nuclear weapons program by a wholehearted cooperation over two years with IAEA inspectors. I have just learned that Iraq has accepted an offer by South Africa to send a group of experts for further talks."

Can anyone really take this seriously? Would any fair minded observer view this as anything but another P.R. stunt from the regime in Badhdad? We all know what the South African (or Kazakh or Ukranian) model to disarmament is. Simply lead the international agency to your weapons so that they can be destroyed/deactivated. It's really that simple. Saddam doesn't need any tutorial in how to achieve this.

2) "The number of Iraqi minders during inspections has often reached a ratio--had often reached a ratio as high as five per inspector. During the talks in January in Baghdad, the Iraqi side agreed to keep the ratio to about 1:1. The situation has improved."

This reminds me of the old Pat Moynihan article titled "defining deviancy down." Why would Saddam ever have had 5 minders per inspector if he doesn't have something to hide? More important, why should the foreign ministers around the UNSC table cheer because the ratio of minder to inspector has gone from 5:1 to "about" 1:1. It's not about the minders, Mr. Blix. It's about Iraqi government officials leading you to the WMD sites.

It remains manifestly clear that the Iraqi regime is in material breach of Resolution 1441. The U.S. and U.K. must begin to draft a resolution so declaring that reminds the international community that "serious consequences" are in the offing. Saddam must be given an ultimatum, say March 1st, by which he would need to perform a total about face and reveal the full scope of his WMD capability and begin to convincingly lead inspectors to all relevant sites so the WMD can be dismantled and destroyed. If, as expected, he does not change his policy of obstruction the U.S. must lead a coalition to forcefully disarm him--with or without a second resolution. He leaves us no choice.


posted by Gregory| 2/14/2003 07:39:00 PM
 

U.S. GI's to Leave Germany?

Jim Hoagland on potential troop redeployments in Europe. He makes the point that whatever the current degree of anger with countries like Germany, such redeployments should be decided on the basis of sound strategy and not passing anger or pique. There are good strategic reasons to redeploy on an expedited basis (for instance, the Austrian government won't allow U.S. forces rail transit rights for soliders based in Germany so why not move some of these troops further East)? All this said, it is hard to deny that Schoeder's irresponsible position (not even supporting a war in Iraq if the UNSC approved a second resolution) will expedite Pentagon planner's redeployment strategies.

Key language: "Washington is racing to reorganize both U.S. armed forces and international institutions to fight simultaneously the wars on terrorism and on the spread of weapons of mass horror. The Bush message to the Security Council is the same that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has given his service commanders: Adapt -- quickly -- or be left behind.

The global system of U.S. bases and troop deployments that is today a largely unplanned residue of World War II, the Cold War, Korea and the Gulf War is not particularly relevant to these two new struggles. American troops and bases will be shifted, reduced or abandoned in a new pattern of forward deployment to meet the challenges of terrorist networks and proliferation."



posted by Gregory| 2/14/2003 12:34:00 PM


2/12/2003  

Rally in Hyde Park!

An article by an anti-war advocate in the Guardian shows why that paper is worth skimming for a chuckle now and then. Listen to this breathless Haight-Ashbury hyperbole regarding an anti-war protest scheduled for this Saturday:

"The eyes and ears of the world will be fixed on the London streets and on Hyde Park. The size and fury of the demonstration will have an impact on real events the like of which I have not experienced in a lifetime of protest. Hyde Park will once again host a demonstration, like that of the Reform League in 1867 or the suffragettes in 1908, that can change the whole course of politics. Go to it."

Oh my, and I thought my only concern about my return to London tomorrow was regarding the British Army tanks and troops at Heathrow defending against a possible missile attack on an incoming plane there.

posted by Gregory| 2/12/2003 04:35:00 PM
 

An Era of Proliferation?

George Tenet presents to the Hill a worrisome synopsis on the increasing threat of nuclear proliferation in the 21st Century. He warns, for those persuaded to rush concessions to Pyongyang, that many countries will note that possessing a nuke or two is an ideal way to extract concessions from much more powerful countries.

Tenet's presentation is another timely reminder of how high the stakes are in seeking to stem proliferation of WMD technology worldwide. We already let the Indians and Pakistanis get away with going nuclear. We cannot afford further proliferation. Saddam's rush to develop WMD capability will hasten Iranian, Syrian and Libyan (to name a few) efforts in this field. North Korea's increased production would force the Japanese to very seriously consider developing nuclear capability--leading the Chinese to increase the force of their arsenal and generally leading to an arms race in East Asia.

We need to return to an era of voluntary disarmament, where countries like South Africa, Kazakhstan and Ukraine voluntarily gave up their nuclear capability. Note too, they did so in a transparent and voluntary manner. We did not allow for Saddam style hide and seek (for over twelve years running).

Bush needs to draw the line now. This is a decisive moment in international relations. Too bad the Germans and French don't yet get it.

posted by Gregory| 2/12/2003 04:14:00 PM
 

Joshka Fischer Watch

More on Joshka Fischer's pitiable performance in Munich (and tidbits regarding the German FM's background) here.

posted by Gregory| 2/12/2003 04:02:00 PM


2/11/2003  

Anti-Americanism Worldwide Is Surging, What To Do?

As an American living in Britain and travelling frequently around the Eurozone and CIS I can attest to an alarming rise in the degree of anti-Americanism as the conflict with Iraq looms. This anti-U.S. feeling is often butressed by an irrationality that is shocking in its scope even to one accustomed to such rants. Whether chats with the proverbial cab rider in the 16th in Paris or lawyers in Yerevan, Armenia; German Daimler-Chrysler managers selling their cars in the CIS or money managers in the City of London the theme is usually that we are in it for (pick one) a) the oil, b) because W is a religious nut (or Texan gun-slinging cowboy), c) Americans are still hurting after 9/11 and just want to "kick more butt" to feel better, or d) all of the above. Note: Choice D often appears the most popular answer.

Iraq's WMD-capability is never mentioned. Powell's presentation of February 5th to the UNSC is widely mocked and derided as, at best, circumstantial evidence. And this is just in Europe and the former Soviet Union. We know the view of the U.S., in the vast Islamic world spanning from Jakarta to Tangiers, is even dimmer. Conspiracy theories of Washington/NYC in bed with the "Zionists" coordinating closely their next strategic moves in the "region" is common chit-chat or imam-speak. Asia? Deep down, probably a majority of South Koreans want to re-unify their peninsula, perhaps in possession of nuclear weapons, and kick the Yanks out soonest. And many Chinese (including highly educated university students), as their Internet chat-rooms showed on September 12th, 2001, were not shedding many tears at the death of thousands of Americans on 9/11.

So we certainly have a problem. We are puzzled, fearful, angered at why large swaths of humanity dislike or detest us (or our government). We need to address and mitigate this problem. Yes, we do need to show more humility as W said during the 2000 campaign in the execution of our foreign policy. We need to make attempts to go the multilateral route more often than not. As Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel is fond of saying, "we need friends."

All this said, however, we cannot become captives to multilateralism when so much of this anti-American attitude simply stems from resentment of the U.S. based on other countries relative powerlessness. We cannot abdicate our responsibilities to ensure a more stable international system in the face of fecklessness and obstruction from leaders like Schroeder who fan the flames of anti-Americanism simply to remain in power. We must defend the integrity of the U.N. by ensuring Resolution 1441 is enforced--not made a mockery of by inserting more U.N. inspectors.

That said, we need to make some changes. We need to deliver our "message" with more humility, with less of an "us against them" undertone, and we must press more forcefully to solve regional disputes like the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio. Such actions will help us make some headway in stemming the alarming tide of anti-Americanism. But these actions should never come at the expense of abdicating our leadership role in attempting to stem the growth of WMD capacity by rogue regimes and quashing global terrorist groups.

posted by Gregory| 2/11/2003 03:03:00 PM
 

WP Nails It on the Head

The Washington Post continues to impress with its editorial stance and intelligent analysis of the Iraq situation. Key language:

"Only six months ago it was Germany and France that appealed to the United States to take the case of Iraqi disarmament to the United Nations; a year ago they reproached Washington for not involving NATO more in the war against terrorism. The Bush administration responded by making a powerful and detailed case against Iraq before NATO and the Security Council, and challenging both to act. With France's support, the Security Council crafted Resolution 1441, which gave Iraq "a final opportunity" to peacefully disarm while making clear that anything short of "full cooperation" at "any time" would forfeit the chance. Having passed such a resolution, the Security Council risks a crippling forfeit of its credibility if it backs down now -- yet that is exactly what France and Germany propose."

Read the whole article here.

posted by Gregory| 2/11/2003 02:33:00 PM


2/09/2003  

Dear Joshka--You Are No Longer a Neo-Marxist Street Protestor

Many of you likely caught the footage of German Foreign Minister Fischer's theatrical message to Rumsfeld at the Munich security conference yesterday. Switching from German to English and addressing Rumsfeld directly, Fischer blabbered on a bit about how he remain unconvinced of the pressing need for a war in Iraq now and couldn't sell it to his people at this stage. Looking like a bit politician playing to his Green Party constituency and acting very unlike a Foreign Minister--all told, a very sad performance. It would be laughable, really, were it not for sober warnings from the likes of Joe Lieberman (also attending the same Munich conference) that: "It seems to me that the current division we have over policy towards Iraq is the most substantial challenge the alliance has faced since the end of the Cold War."

The Germans (along with the French) appear to be cooking up a new plan to triple the amount of inspectors in Iraq and send in U.N. troops with them. Bosnia on the Tigris? Will Dominique de Villepin please explain how increasing the amount of inspectors will lead us to Saddam's banned arsenal? Did not Colin Powell's presentation show the international community what lengths Saddam will go to to hide his WMD-capability (moving about the WMD in mobile units, death threats communicated to overly cooperative scientists, "sanitization" of sites and likely infilitration of the inspection teams themselves by informants)?

I would have expected such an irresponsible performance by Chancellor Schroeder's tottering government. I am shocked Chirac would lend his reputation to such a plan.

Read a solid piece on Rumsfeld's Munich junket and Fischer's farcical performance here.

posted by Gregory| 2/09/2003 11:16:00 AM
 

W's Religious War Per the Guardian

The noxious relativism equating Bush's attempt to hold Saddam to Resolution 1441 as stemming from a religious worldview (ie, W is just as bad as Osama) continues untrampled in the pages of the European left of center press.

The most offensive paragraph: "No, Bush and Blair do not pray together, as Jeremy Paxman [editor note: Paxman is a BBC presenter who queried Blair about whether he and W prayed together in clownish fashion] discovered. This crude question seemed, understandably, to infuriate Blair. Even so, God is, I believe, the coalescing agent of this war, the unifying bond between a Prime Minister guided by religious certitude and a President in thrall to bible and gun. The countdown, presented as a play-off between Hobbes, an advocate of superpower rule, and Kant, the patron of the nation state, is presided over by a higher force."

Not to be left out of this growing theme of W as dangerous religious figure (that I addressed on January 27th, see archives), the New York Times has a week in review piece that, while much more sober than the outlandish language above, will doubtless provide ammunition to leftist Europeans fearful of a U.S. president "in thrall to bible and gun".

Yes, as the NYT argues, Bush injects religious themes into his speeches. I'd be a bit more comfortable if he did so less frequently--especially with regard to foreign policy--given that considerable swaths of the Islamic world believe he may be on the cusp of a new crusade. But Bush would never be planning to attack Saddam's regime were it not for his lack of disclosure/disarmament regarding banned weapons materials. Where the religious radicalism in this cogent stance?

No, this is really about the increasing imbecility percolating in certain European quarters that equates W to Osama by portraying both men as religious zealots. Convenient and cute--but, tragically, the European people (well, those in Germany and the like) will someday hold their leaders to account for their irresponsibility in not confronting the real threat of the 21st Century. That is the intersection of rogue regimes and transnational terror groups--not an alleged gun and bible-toting U.S. President.

posted by Gregory| 2/09/2003 10:55:00 AM


2/08/2003  

Does Rummy Need to be Reined In?

Don't get me wrong, much that emanates from Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon I heartily agree with. But occasionally he goes too far. Since he was already Secretary of Defense way back during the Ford Administration, it appears that Rummy wants to be Secretary of State too, whilst simultaneously running the Pentagon.

It isn't comments like referring to France and Germany as "Old Europe" that overly concern me, though poor Mr. Powell has to clean up such messes simply because Rumsfeld appears to have a fondness for punchy phrases. What gets me is his recent reference to North Korea as a "terrorist regime" during a Congressional hearing. The situation on the Korean peninsula is growing increasingly dangerous. President Bush has been, wisely, de-personalizing the tension with scant references to Kim Jong Il (in contrast to earlier comments that he "loathes" the man). Having the Secretary of Defense describe the North Korean regime as terrorist in nature ratchets up the inflammatory rhetoric (a North Korean speciality that we should not adopt). We need to focus on Richard Armitage's (Powell's deputy) increasingly direct signals to Pyongyang that direct talks are on the table and that we do not have an intention of attacking North Korea--at least at this stage as key players (U.S., South Korea, Russia, China) attempt to discover whether Kim Jong can be walked down from the nuclear precipice diplomatically. Actual initiation of renewed production of nuclear weapons to increase his stockpile of missiles would necessitate a reappraisal.

As too often with this Administration, the divide between the State Department and the Pentagon gets played out in public. The problem is that Bush, while he had an excellent grasp on the implications of 9/11 and led the country with distinction during the aftermath of the attacks, is not a foreign policy guru. Therefore, he cannot often issue strict top-down instructions on matters of foreign policy. The Rumsfeld faction (Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith) therefore battle (too often publicly) with Powell-Armitage on issues like how much pressure to apply on Sharon, whether to go through the U.N. regarding Iraq, or how conciliatory a tack to take with North Korea.

It might be noted that while the Pentagon crew gets more press and appears more influential, the reality is that Powell wins many quiet victories. While the jury is still out on how much the U.S. will pressure Israel on concessions regarding the "roadmap" (Middle East peace processing appears, unwisely, to have been delayed until the Iraq situation is resolved) Powell's approach won the day on going through the U.N. on Iraq and, at least from Bush's latest pronouncements, appearing less belligerent vis-a-vis North Korea.

Does the President ever dress-down Rumsfeld when he goes a bit too far? We know that W once, through Condi Rice, reprimanded Dick Cheney for preemptively attempting to take U.N. inspectors off the Administration's potential tool kit. W might want to enlist Condi to communicate a similar message to Rumsfeld regarding North Korea.

posted by Gregory| 2/08/2003 02:35:00 PM
 

Rapprochment with Iran? Or More Anti-Americanism Brewing in Teheran?

Check out two articles about the current state of U.S.-Iranian relations. The first article reveals that U.S. administration figures (as yet unnamed) secretly met with Iranian counterparts in a European country to discuss possible cooperation regarding the looming conflict with Iraq. The second article describes growing anti-americanism in Iran.

Guess which one appeared in the New York Times?

posted by Gregory| 2/08/2003 01:57:00 PM


2/07/2003  

Now, Adlai's Son!

Not content with the earlier Adlai Stevenson hagiography detailed below Howell Raines now has Adlai's son featured with a lengthy op-ed in today's NYT. The basic theme is that his father had devoted his life to the containment of the Soviet Union so as to avoid war (so let's go on containing Saddam!).

There is also a portion downplaying Powell's presentation to the UNSC arguing it would have been more persuasive if Powell had showed that Saddam was close to developing nuclear weapons (chemical and biological capability, it appears, of de minimis importance to Adlai Jr.). But the most offensive passage by far is:

"Sept. 11 was not all that different from Sarajevo at the turn of the century. The 19 men armed with box cutters did not expect to bring down all of America. Only America can do that. They expected a reaction. The one they should get is to be treated as criminals, hunted down and brought to justice. Bringing war only confirms complaints that the United States is waging a war against Islam. It can also give terrorists the reaction they seek."

The implications are clear. We are falling into Mohamad Atta and gang's trap. World War looms because of a U.S. overreaction. Couldn't we just have issued warrants and haled the co-conspirators to court? Or perhaps, in Clintonian fashion, just launched a few pinprick cruise missile attacks in Afganistan or destroyed an incorrect target in downtown Khartoum?

No, Mr. Stevenson. What happened in NYC on 9/11 was a declaration of war. It demanded an extra-judicial response. The 19 men were not "criminals" but enemy combatants who massacred over 3,000 individuals in key symbols of our greatest city, our ministry of defense, and on four of our commercial planes packed with innocent civilians. More importantly, their superiors, financiers, and other assorted co-conspirators are not "criminals" either but mortal combatants who want nothing more than to inflict maximal damage on U.S. targets, whether governmental or civilian, anywhere in the world and at any time.

To say (as Adlai Jr. goes on to) that such a war "confirms complaints that the U.S. is waging war against Islam" is, if anything, grossly disrespectful of vast swaths of moderate Muslims revolted by the September 11th attacks. Adlai Jr.'s rhetoric would go over well at the Finsbury Park mosque in North London--where the shoebomber Richard Reid was indocrinated--but doesn't hold water in more judicious precincts, whether Muslim or non-Muslim ones.

posted by Gregory| 2/07/2003 02:24:00 PM


2/06/2003  

Materiality

Crafty lawyers are expert in arguing that an omission in a filing with the SEC may have been non-material and thus did not require disclosure to the relevant regulatory authorities. But even the best public international law practitioner would be unable to convincingly argue that the Iraqis are not in material breach of Resolution 1441 after Colin Powell's strong presentation. It appears Powell deliberately played down the strength of the Administration's evidence so as to play the lowered expectations game. But he didn't even need to do that. The taped exchanges between Iraqi military officials blatantly discussing the concealment of banned materials is simply damning. Ditto the satellite imagery of the sanitization of sites before the arrival of U.N. inspectors (who appear to have been infiltrated by informers or have fallen prey to listening devices that render the element of surprise moot, so why send in more inspectors as the French suggest?).

Way back (was it December 7th?) Saddam was to have provided a full declaration of his entire weapons program. He instead produced a report full of recycled information and myriad omissions. He then engaged in in the old hide and seek and cheat and retreat tactics. He is manifestly in material breach. To argue he isn't is to make a mockery of Resolution 1441 and, it follows, the United Nations. How many more blows can this beleaguered institution take before it is relegated to League of Nations status?

posted by Gregory| 2/06/2003 06:50:00 PM
 

And Now, the Vilnius Group

More Europeans nations publicly back the U.S on its Iraq stance. Key language: The 10 countries of the Vilnius group -- Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia, Macedonia and Albania -- had largely decided before the address to issue their statement of support but held off until after Powell spoke. "Our countries understand the dangers posed by tyranny and the special responsibility of democracies to defend our shared values," the group said in their statement.

The French, at least according to one source quoted in the WP article, remain somewhat recalcitrant. But then why is the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle steaming off towards the Gulf? Interesting to see the Croats publically support the U.S. despite Germany's role as its historic protector. Who would have thought Bratislava on board, Berlin/Brussels/Belgrade not?

posted by Gregory| 2/06/2003 06:25:00 PM


2/05/2003  

Richard Perle Goes Too Far

Richard Perle's comments that "France is no longer the ally it once was" are a bit on the hyperbolic side as are his accusations that French President Jacques Chirac believes "deep in his soul that Saddam Hussein is preferable to any likely successor." I have the utmost respect for Richard Perle and his work post-Dayton accords helping to forge a more viable Croat-Bosnian Muslim Federation Army as a bulwark against renewed Bosnian Serb ethnic cleansing campaigns. But let's wait and see how the French position develops over the coming hours and days. There has not yet been, as Perle contends, serious damage to the NATO alliance resulting from nettlesome French delaying tactics at the UNSC. We are, of course, at a crucial juncture with Powell's presentation today. Perle's comments could yet be borne out. But not quite yet. The French, as I tiresomely continue to predict, will be with us come crunch time.

posted by Gregory| 2/05/2003 11:40:00 AM
 

More on Adlai

The Washington Post has a more sober analysis than the NYT (see below) drawing parallels between Powell's impending presentation to the UNSC council with Adlai Stevenson's admirably executed unmasking of Soviet lies. Veteran U.S. diplomat Thomas Pickering states the obvious point succinctly: "A lot is riding on Powell's presentation," says Thomas Pickering, who was ambassador to the United Nations during the run-up to the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The debate, he says, is likely to determine "the level of Security Council support for the use of U.S. force against Iraq."

The French, as they have desired throughout, will remain the pivotal player and milk more time under the bright klieg lights of international war and peace diplomacy. We might surmise that Blair yesterday, during the Anglo-French summit at Le Toquet, briefed Chirac on some of the compelling intelligence Powell is about to make public to the international community. I still predict that, post-Powell's presentation, the French shift gears. The story would then be less about Europe's division regarding Iraq than simply Germany's isolation on the issue. And with the unemployment rate there today ticking up to 10.4% the Chancellor's days are increasingly numbered.

posted by Gregory| 2/05/2003 11:23:00 AM


2/04/2003  

Is Europe Living in a Pre-9/11 Utopia?

We often hear from the grizzled European eminence grise types that Europe has been living with terrorism for decades and has a more sophisticated approach to the problem. Stem the bellicose rhetoric, get to the root causes, dialogue with some of these movements, and so on--we are told. Yet the odd ETA car bomb or IRA attack on a London hotel--however horrific--simply does not compare with the massive scale of the felling of the Twin Towers. Americans are now consumed with fear of a so-called "dirty bomb" or bio-attack in a major metropolis. It appears that Europeans do not yet share these fears. Instead, the more prevalent thinking goes, the U.S., protected by two large oceans on each coast and not buffeted by significant conflict on its own continental soil since the Civil War, appears to be in the grips of hysteria (or an era of historical "madness," as John Le Carre described it, in an oped piece in the Times of London) about the future specter of terrorist activity. Why all this wild talk of preemption, many Europeans query?

An interesting, if gruesome, question: What would Euro publics and elites thinking be on this matter if aerosolized anthrax killed many scores at Canary Wharf? Or a landmark like the Eiffel Tower simply disappeared from the Parisian skyline after a successful terror strike with fatalities in the hundreds? Would an epoch-changing mood sweep the Continent? Or would the wizened skepticism and poo-pooing of Yankee overdrive on the war on terror persist?

posted by Gregory| 2/04/2003 04:42:00 PM
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