The Corner

Allies: What Are They Good For?

Recall Ramesh’s — and others’ — critique of Krauthammer’s AEI speech? The upshot was that Krauthammer doesn’t care enough about allies. I think the criticism was valid, but the Spanish election has me re-thinking the value of allies like Spain.

I salute the courage of the Aznar Government, the Spanish troops in Iraq and no doubt countless individual Spaniards who see the war on terror for what it is. But at the end of the day it’s clear that the Spanish people were never with us. Public opinion was always against Aznar — which makes him all the more courageous — and this one attack was all it took for public opinion to have its way.

So, the question is, what good was it to have Spain as an ally at all? Yes, there was some political cover, but clearly not very much in the eyes of the “world community.” Spain’s membership in the Coalition didn’t sway any Americans to support the war who otherwise wouldn’t have. And, Spain didn’t alleviate a very significant share of the military burden.

Meanwhile, if terrorists learn the lesson that blowing up a few trains will cause nations like Spain to drop out of the Coalition, that helps nobody.

“Multilateralists” like Kerry insist we should have had more allies like Spain. Yes, I know. Kerry says if he had been president he would have won the “significant” support of allies — i.e. securing whole divisions for the fight etc. But I think Kerry is lying to us or himself. How could he have won more support if he was less supportive of the war than Bush himself. I know he’s got a lot of juice with these foreign leaders who want him to win, but his quest for allies would have been eternal.

But, the more important question is Why grovel for allies in the first place? If, at the end of the day, only those nations which truly want to be with us can be relied upon to stay with us then why jump through so many hoops to get allies in the first place? If something needs doing, it needs to be done. If we’ve got help, great. If not, so be it.

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