To judge by the front pages of American and European newspapers, there are two wars going on in Iraq.
In one, reported on the front page of the New York Times, the British-American coalition is sweeping toward Baghdad, dodging crowds of happy, if thirsty, well-wishers on the way.
In the other war, reported with the usual passion in the Guardian and the Independent, the innocent and angry Iraqis are suffering as the Americans blunder their way into quagmire #2, the one waiting for them in Baghdad. (In the Sanctimoniousness Sweeps, it’s a Robert Fisk two-fer in the Independent today — a tribute to Saddam’s “master of concealment” and a bonus round-up of “wailing children, the wounded, the dead.” Could there be more? Yes! Guardian readers only have a single report from Suzanne Goldenberg, but her victims are much worse off than Fisk’s. So it’s a wash.) In the Telegraph, the Times, the Independent and elsewhere, the “Gates of Baghdad” cliché beckons, describing either the portal of triumph or the doorway to despair, depending.
But behind all the war chatter in today’s Euro-press is a comment or two looking toward the more ominous threat of postwar maneuvers, diplomatic and otherwise, and, as in Robin Renwick’s piece in today’s Times, wondering what will be left of international institutions once the dust settles in Iraq.
It’s all very tricky. What-happens-next, after all, is a problem compounded by the recent serious abuse of ideological hallucinogens by politicians in Europe. Anti-Americanism is now the ecstasy of the European liberal bourgeoisie, the drug of choice when Left-wing pundits party in the press and elsewhere. Like all drugs, it makes you stupid, but its feel-good appeal is undeniable. In Germany and France, especially, politicians have astonished themselves at their ability to get really, really, totally high in the polls by simply hiding their fundamental incompetencies behind a burning American flag, figuratively speaking.
Thanks to Schröder and Fischer, more than half of all Germans now think America is a nation of “warmongers.” While the Coalition was fighting Saddam’s henchmen on the outskirts of Baghdad, it was widely reported earlier this week that Frenchmen were vandalizing the graves of the allied war dead on the coast of France, telling the Brits, via graffiti, to get their polluting “rubbish” out of French soil. According to a story in today’s Le Monde, the French now find it necessary to be “vigilant” (Read: Erase graffiti fast) in the face of rising anti-Americanism, especially now that it’s been revealed that one out of every three French citizens goes to bed at night dreaming of an American defeat in Iraq.
The French-German dependency on anti-Yank smack has spread, of course, and now all of Europe is deeply addicted. To be a European is, by definition, to be anti-American. Hence, virtually every country in Europe is like tiny Latvia — patiently waiting, as William Safire reports in the New York Times, to vote a pro-American government out of power so it can become true “partners” with its friends in the EU.
Meanwhile, the French and Germans press forward with their plans for a unified European military, something the French said would have been useful in expressing their point-of-view regarding Iraq. Meaning what? There’s a lot of discussion in Europe now about the need for a European power center to counter the U.S. But, to use a French construct, is that not the logic of war? For the last 50 years or so, we have been laughing off European military potential.
But pause for a moment, and think of what French politicians could do with an army of Germans. Anyone who can read 20th-century history and the daily papers and still thinks of France as a wayward ally instead of a potential enemy is, uh, French.
The danger of this new European militancy is just now surfacing in London, where the Times leader-writer <a href=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,542-632735,00.html>urges</a> Jack Straw to please remember that the Atlantic Alliance should trump whatever French confection is cooked up in Brussels, while elsewhere in today’s Times, Richard Beeston and Roger Boyes report on French intransigence and German softening, viz. the U.S.-British alliance and relationships with the U.S.
The Times may hope for a continuation of British-American friendship. But, reports the Daily Telegraph from Brussels, it may be too late. In his dispatch today, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says new the EU constitution, which member states will be asked to ratify later this year, gives Brussels the power to “define and implement a common foreign and security policy, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy.”
The ratification of a constitution created under the close supervision of Valery Giscard-d’Estaing ought to worry some Europeans. But the report doubts that in the end, Blair will have the courage to turn away from Europe. As a result, the next time the U.S. seeks U.N. approval to squash some dangerous little despot somewhere, the Americans may find themselves fighting Royal Marines and other NATO allies — all battling on behalf of French intellectuals.