Monday, March 07, 2005

Us lot here in the ungrateful Old World

One of the drepressing things about the anti-war movemnt here in Europe is how quite a few inteligent and aware people have adopted such a level of anti-Americanism that they end up in practice supporting the so called Iraqi resistance. That is to say, they end up supporting a movement that seeks power thru terror and would rule by terror should it gain power. That level of anti-americanism has clearly gone beyond rational limits and surprise surprise it serves to produce a similar reaction in the US.

No Pasaran seems dedicated to the proving the comforting thesis that all the blame for Europe-American friction is the fault of the Europeans and
'"It's because of its support for the struggle for freedom, rather than in spite of it, that the Bush administration is loathed" in Old Europe'
(quoting from John Vinocur) is par for the course.

If American readers believe that is the full story then I say Dream on. It is not simply the anti-war Europeans who dislike Bush. Americans may have missed out on a little political fracas here in Britain just before Bush's reelection. Tony Blair sent the Black Watch up from the South of Iraq ostensibly to replace American units participating in the attack on Falujah. I say ostensibly because the pretty much everyone in Britain saw it as Tony Blair doing Bush a favor to help Bush's reelection chances. The strongest opposition came from Labor MPs who had supported sending British troops for liberation of Iraq but didn't want to help Bush, of all people, get reelected. Many British Conservatives were of much the same opinion.

OK, without America the Baath would still be in power. The opinion of many Europeans who supported Iraqi liberation is that the actions of Bush, the lack of planning for what came after the fall, the corruption, the dragging of feet over holding direct elections in Iraq not to mention the extremely heavy handed way the Americans have responded to armed opposition has built up the Iraqi terrorists to the force they are.

Americans who dismiss "Old World Europe" tend to ignore where Iraq actually is. Iraq itself is in the Old World. Indeed as the home of the first cities it is bang in the center of the Old World. Indeed it is not so much that Europe is Euroupe's backyard as Euroupe is Iraq's backyard. Turkey is a candidate member of Europe so in a few years time Europe will have a common border with Iraq. Given that, it might have been expected that Bush would have appreciated that he had to consult with Europe before doing anything drastic. The seeking of a second resolution in the UN was done with such bad grace that it surprised few in Europe when nothing came of it.

And the bad relations with Europe began well before Bush began his crusade for freedom. Indeed before 9-11 he was doing his best to pretend that the rest of world didn't exist. More than anything that means Kyoto. Rejection of Kyoto may make sense in foreign policy terms if America wants to take an isolationist let-the-world-go-hang stance but it doesn't sit well with a Wilsonian carrying freedom to the world policy. I don't hold the view that the war in Iraq was a war for oil but take a moment to see how it looks from outside America. The US president rejects a treaty so that America can go on producing vastly more CO2 than the rest of the world and then invades a country sitting on vast oil reserves. (The reason why I don't accept that it was a war for oil, incidentally, is that those who say that also usually say there are loads of dictators as bad as Husein in the world. Anyone who thinks that Husein was just a run of the mill dictator should read Kanan Makiya's Republic of Fear).

My point here is not that America should sign Kyoto ( I'll leave that to Americans to argue) but that if America rejects Kyoto it has to accept the consequences of bad relations with Europe.

John Vinocur focuses on the lack of gratitude of Europe for help the cold war. He slips in "The fact is, Schröder, who fought against a United States daring to counter Soviet missiles in the early '80s...". The US daring to counter Soviet misiles meant getting stuck into a arms race over tactical nukes deployed in Germany. The point of view of Germans at the thought that the defense of Germany might rely on tactical nukes being detonated in the the then West and East Germany is likely to be a bit different from people not living there.

But Old World lack of gratitude is also to be found in Iraq. Overwhelmingly Iraqis want troops out as soon as possible. What makes that not possible is the insurgency. I don't buy that the "resistance" will pack up as soon as foreign troops leave as many anti-war activists seem to believe. The Hilla bombing in which all the victims were Iraqis is just one more illustration of how the resistance is as much anti Iraq as it is anti American. But in the first year of the occupation the resistance was pretty sporadic but gradually grew. Not proof but good reason for an Iraqi to say "Thanks USA for getting rid of Saddam. No thanks for provoking the terrorists." Where this connects up with the anti nuke German concerns of the 80s is the argument used by many in the US for the war in Iraq. That's the blotting paper doctrine. That is that the war in Iraq is in America's interests because Mid East terrorists will be attracted to Iraq to fight the Americans there rather than attack America directly. Iraqi gratitude?

But yes things are beginning to go right. I can add little to Michael Totten's thoughtful piece on the events in Lebanon. Pretty much everyone chooses pictures of Lebanonese flags to illustrate these events but at No Pasaran it's a US one.

Not being American I don't reckon that the No Pasaran folk are going to listen to me when I suggest that wasn't the most cleaver spin to put on events. I'll just ask them to read Michael Totten and ask themselves why he is so guarded in claiming credit for America.

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