Let’s Examine the European Opinions on War with Iraq

If ignorance is bliss, then the Europeans must live in nirvana. I’m speaking of their outspoken criticism of US foreign policy toward Iraq. Both Germany and France have forgotten the bitter lessons of appeasement of the 1930’s. But before they were forced to appease a brutal dictator, they allowed him to grow fangs by not enforcing the disarmament imposed under the Treaty of Versailles. Germany, in a secret pact with Stalin, operated weapons research facilities in Russia. The agreement was to share the fruits of their labors with Russia in return for his silence. Hitler also violated the treaty by illegally expanding his army, navy, air force, and weapons arsenal. Only after it was too late did Europe finally come to its senses.

The outcome, of course, was WWII. When Hitler invaded Poland, the British finally had had enough. They fired Neville Chamberlan, voted in Winston Churchill, and began begging the United States for any assistance. The United States wasn’t completely without sin, though. Japan was running rampant in China and the strongest US response was to apply economic sanctions and position the US Pacific fleet in Hawaii from San Diego.

History shows clearly that many of our current international problems stem directly from the failed policies of European colonialism. Prior to and just after World War II, France and Great Britain administered the colonial governments of that the Middle East. It was their policies that lead to the domestic unrest and insurrection in such places as Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Rhodesia, Kenya, and South Africa. It was French colonial rule in Viet Nam that antagonized the Vietnamese and spurred the growth of communist rebellion. When Egyptian President, Gamal Abdul Nassar, nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956, France and Great Britain jointly invaded Egypt to try and retake it. Only after very strong international pressure did they finally withdraw.

The difference today is that America has taken note of those lessons while Europe has not. The criticism against American policy seems to hinge on the notion that America is pursuing war for self serving purposes, namely oil. This is no more valid than the accusation that America went to Afghanistan in order to build an oil pipeline. A quick bit of research will show that Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan are keen to have American or European companies build such a pipeline but no one is interested (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sign Pipeline Deal).

Europe wants to travel the high road of peace at any price. The most pertinent reason for the Europe’s criticism, however, lies in their decline relative to America’s ascendance. The world currency is either gold or US dollars, not Francs or Pounds. Computer commands are in English not French. International air traffic controllers and airline pilots must be fluent in English not German. The United States sets the standard for human rights, scientific development, medical research, democracy, fair elections, personal freedoms, and global charity just to name a few. At the same time the French set the standard for arrogance, labor strikes, vacations, and anti-American demonstrations.

The European military is woefully inadequate to pose any serious deterrent to rogue nations. Europe could not prevent the ethnic cleansing of the Balkans by Slobodan Milosevic. It took the commitment of the United States. The last I heard, Milosevic was still on trial at the Hague. Who knows if they will ever get around to convicting him. When Argentina invaded the Faulklands, Great Britain (remember, they used to rule the waves) did not have the ability to respond. They had to ask President Reagan to refuel their ships at see on the way to the fight.

My own sense is that we can take most of the European criticism with a grain of salt. It is noble to have a sense of compassion for potential innocent civilian casualties should we go to war. But they are suspiciously devoid of an equivalent outrage at actual American casualties on 9/11. And, might I say, those were not accidental casualties. They were targeted and executed by plan and specific purpose. The same can be said for the deaths in Bali, Kenya, Tanzania, Kobart Towers, the USS Cole, as well as others. It is a shame that hard feelings can cloud one’s judgment. But it is my conclusion, based on the above, that this is indeed the case with Europe. We should always consult with our allies. We must consider their situation before we act. But when the path is clear, we can’t be allowed to be swayed from the proper course of action. Saddam Hussein is an aggressive dictator with malintent for America. We must enforce his disarmament or be prepared to face the consequencies.

THE PUBLIC VIEW

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