Friday, February 18, 2005

Europeans might be modifying their cartoonish image of the Bushies

Is it possible that Bush wasn't entirely wrong?
asks Richard Bernstein in the International Herald Tribune
…after the [Iraqi] election, when [Der Tagesspiegel's] Washington correspondent suggested on Page 1 that maybe, after all, Bush sniffed out a truth about the "axis of evil," the [German daily's] staff strenuously objected. "The idea that Bush might actually have been right — that was a little much for our staff," [Christoph Marschall, the editorial page editor of the paper,] said. Still, opposition or not, the paper in yet another editorial, spoke of "the sublime nature of this day," meaning Jan. 31, when the election was held, and criticized Europeans for failing to admit that "even a wrong war can have some positive consequences."

…Still, it does seem as if at least some former European opponents of American policy are taking on a more nuanced view of things. There's a willingness, as Pierre Hassner, the French political scientist put it, to incorporate some bright spots in the Iraq situation into what has until now been a uniformly dark framework. The election seems to have conveyed the message that even the initial decision to go to war — rather than pursue the European option of unending diplomacy — was not a simple wrong but a tough choice with strong arguments both for and against.

"The pictures of the people voting, even though it's hard to say it was worth two years of war, psychologically it was a turning point," Hassner said.

Bernstein goes on to hedge that a "recent poll by the German Marshall Fund, conducted after the election in the United States but before the election in Iraq, shows vividly how deep the European distrust of America is" and that it "wouldn't be a bad thing, as he travels in Europe, for Bush to keep in mind that these objections, like the earlier ones in Europe, are often quite cogent and deeply felt". Dick, why don't you mainstream media types stop pandering once and for all to distrust which is entirely self-serving and to deeply-felt feelings which have everything to do with their conviction that they are blessed as the paragons of wisdom, generosity, and virtue on this planet?

You say so yourself:

though Europeans were gracious enough not to gloat during the darkest days of the Iraqi conflict, you could almost smell the schadenfreude here over the American plight.
That is nothing to feel proud of or to pander too. And when a supposedly independent newspaper's staff "strenuously" objects that a fact is too much for them, that is nothing to feel proud of, either. Stop the pandering.
"What happens come May or June when Bush turns to Condi and says, 'What have I gotten out of this?"' Gary Smith, director of the American Academy in Berlin, said, referring to Condoleezza Rice's promotion of warmer trans-Atlantic ties.

"The Europeans need to know that it's more than about being right or wrong, but about taking responsibility, and not just responsibility but coordinated responsibility, working out the priorities in coordination with the Americans. Because if everything is uncoordinated — training in Iraq, soft diplomacy on Iran, arms to China — the alliance still falls short."

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