Tue 11 Feb, 2003 01:17 pm
Is the U.S. administration's "with us or against us" attitude going to be counter-productive in the long run with our allies?
A significant number of European nations resent what they perceive as "Cowboy Diplomacy" by the present administration. Polls show that most Europeans like Americans and generally feel that war with Iraq may be necessary (except Germany) but don't like the President's
"go it alone" approach to this conflict because they feel it is a harbinger of things to come. This has also put one of the administration's best friends, Tony Blair, on the hot seat with his own people.
Secondly, will this go it alone concept backfire on the U.S. when it comes time to rebuild Iraq and we need help from our allies? (We have not heard much about Afghanistan lately, how are we doing there?)
Thirdly, given that the U.S. is the most economically and militarily powerful nation on earth will we see some sort of classic "Balance of Power" diplomacy invoked to counter-balance the U.S.'s perceived hegemony?
Does the nucleus of this manifest itself in France, Germany, and Belgium's recent refusal in NATO to begin planning for Turkey's defense during a possible Iraqi conflict?
EUROPEAN NATIONS RELUCTANCE TO GO TO WAR
Perhaps France, Germany, Belgium, Russia, and others, are reluctant to go to war because the memory of the bombs raining down is still fresh in their memories? They probably find it difficult to wish that on anyone. Just a thought. All kidding aside, it seems strange that no mention has been made of this. [/color]
Reluctance of Russia, Germany and France to have Saddam replaced can be easily explained by their direct economic interests. All these countries established close economic ties with Saddam's regime, and the latter granted them different trade privileges. The future pro-American Iraqi government is more likely to grant such privileges to the U.S. businesses. I do not remember who said this first, but I agree that when someone tries to pretend being a disinterested idealist and humanist, we have to look for benefits he is eager to get.
Regardless of the personalities in charge of a Post-Saddam Iraq I think that it is extremely important for their future for them to honor Iraq's economic contracts that were in effect before the start of the conflict. This would not only add to their national legitimacy but also strengthen the U.S. and its allies' coalition building abilities for the future.
We must remember that after this conflict is over we may have to deal with North Korea, Iran and any number of destabilized Arab states in the future. I read in the NYT the other day where the ruling family in Saudi Arabia intends to loosen their grip on power (as well as rein in the Clerics who do religious policing on the populace) to allow more nationals to participate in government. Remember what happened when Gorbachev loosened state control in the U.S.S.R? He thought he could let the Genie out of the bottle while still being in control. Well we all know what thought did.
JM - just to your question about Afghanistan. Canada is preparing to return there.
hello there in outerspace: just a few quick comments before signing off for the day. i'm reading bob woodward's "bush at war". a must read; written by someone who was permitted access to the inner-circle. the u.s. had no intention of doing "nation-building" in afghanistan (and are not planning to do it iraq either the way i read it). ret'd. u.s. general wesley clark was on cnn tonight(point-counterpoint). he was pretty outspoken about the iraqui situation:GIVE IT TIME! bring the other nations on side; use diplomacy.... he certainly did not say that going to war NOW is the most important thing. going back to the afghani situation: the dutch and german armies have been given the job of assisting the afghani government in nation-building; i believe the u.s. have pretty well left the scene.(german defence minister narrowly missed by rocket attack in afghanistan). 'nuff said.
Iraq: Is America using the wrong approach ?
IMHO, it is the approach of a maniac!
Good points, JamesMorrison. Even at the heighth of the cold war, we honored our commitments to ship grain to the Soviet Union and they were always good for payment.
I've heard the same from Saudi Arabia, in a recent Economist, I believe. I wonder what they are thinking of. If it turns out to be a mistake, there is no going back. I also hear they are planning to reduce the number of guest workers in the country.
You seem to forget that more that 80% of the people in those countries oppose to a war in Iraq. Actually, only in the US a majority wants to go to war.
If Saudi regime loosens its grip on power, this will lead to disaster: the Irani situation of 1979 will be repeated. When the military regime in Algeria decided to hold free elections, the local Islamists immediately won them. Saudi Arabia should not be too prompt in democratization: such a process should take decades, then it will be protected of any undesirable surprises. But the idea to restrain rabid Wahhabi mullahs looks attractive.
hamburger, Welcome! As RE your post of Wed Feb 12, 2003 9:54 pm
"the u.s. had no intention of doing "nation-building" in afghanistan (and are not planning to do it iraq either the way i read it). "
It is disturbing that this was the administration's position before going into Afghanistan. This is one of Europe's and especially, the Arab States' in the region main concern. Just removing a bad regime destabilizes the region and possibly makes things worse. It has been my impression that when a situation in a state or region gets chaotic or extremely disorganized the populace looks for an easy quick solution to bring back order and in doing so they always seem to gravitate towards strong leaders who cater to the undereducated desperate populace. In pre-WWII Germany it was Hitler and the Nazi party. In Iran it was the Islamic clerics that finally won them over with their promise of going back to a more basic and simple life. In this region it is definitely Islamic Fundamentalism or another despotic regime that will fill any power void.
This is why it is so important that we have UN backing to do this "Nation Building". Under the UN umbrella it becomes possible to set up a legitimate non-despotic government in Iraq and also less expensive for individual nations. To just blow into Iraq, remove Saddam, then ride off in a cloud of dust only allows another despotic ruler to take hold. Thereby, any investment the U.S. and others commit in lives and treasure is for naught.
My spirits were heightened the other night. While reading a Newsweek article, I was informed that there actually is a general that is assigned this task of coordinating relief efforts and those to establish a civilian government after the conflict is over.
Given the Saudi Royal Family does follow through on loosening up their control, I foresee a problem here. No matter how slowly the power or governmental control is given up there will be a point at which the Royal family will balk, feeling that they have yielded enough but it will be too late. They will have to reluctantly continue down the path they started. Or they may feel they have done enough and then clamp down on the citizens' present rights. This will cause resentment with the people, which will demand not only the return of those rights previously granted but also even more control over their country's destiny further destabilizing the situation.
We in America have been living under our present system of government for so long there is no collective memory that recalls how difficult it is to give up power.
hi, james! i think you hit the nail on the head! having grown up in germany - i was 15 years old when the war ended -, i well remember the first relief shipment arriving and the eventual rebuilding of "western" germany with a great deal of help from the marshall plan. something like that needs to be done for iraq. but i think the problems in iraq are much more serious. there were no neighbouring countries trying to stir up religuos and other problems(i don't want to discount the problems the soviet union stirred up) in germany and the region. i think a way MUST be found to bring the islamic people and nations onside - and that's were the real difficult work will come in. listening to a canadian(ex-american) jornalist recently(margolis), he felt that there was a lack of diplomats and government officials(statesmen and women?) trained in "GEO-POLITICS". he claimed this subject had pretty well been dropped from the curriculum at most american universities??? i'll be watching for comments and replies. great to be able to discuss this on the site.hbg
For anybody curious of France's real reasons for its bad behavior in this U.N. debacle, a couple of Websites:
A sample quote from the latter reads:
"...Yet the lengths to which France has gone to oppose the United States show that the stakes are much higher. France has gone far beyond mere objection, far beyond mere obstruction. It is engaged in sabotage so active that it has taken to verbally attacking weaker states that dare take the American side.
Why? Sensing a world deeply uneasy about the American policy on Iraq, France seized what it saw as a unique opportunity to change the dynamics of the post-Cold War world. During the Cold War, Charles de Gaulle and his successors had tried breaking free of the United States by "triangulating" with the Soviets. De Gaulle withdrew France from NATO's military structure. France kept offering itself as a "third force." That posturing went nowhere, because France, like everyone else, depended ultimately on American power for defense against the Soviet threat..."
Well, paraphrasing some popular quotation, I should conclude that France does not have permanent affiliations, but she does have permanent interests.