Thursday, September 26, 2002

Ball in Europe's Court

Kudos to Fareed Zakaria for surmising (before the fact) that Tony Blair's address to Parliament would put the Iraq ball in Europe's court. According to Zakaria, Blair speaks as a European and carries more weight than Bush in Paris and Moscow, the two centers of Saddam appeasement. Thanks to Blair's address (and Bush's before that in New York) the French and Russians will think harder before continuing their collusion with Saddam. The question for Europe is no longer whether the United States will handle Iraq unilaterally or multilaterally but how Europe will handle Iraq.

We all know how Europe has handled Saddam until now -- by letting greed rule to an extent that would make Gordon Gekko blush. And they say that Americans are bourgeois.... Having used multilateralism as an excuse for naked self-interest, their seats on the U.N. Security Council as platforms for their own unilateralism in dealing with Saddam (and doing deals with Saddam), France and Russia stand to lose much from the U.S returning the unilateralist favor. Basically, the U.S. wins in a unilateralist world. Are the Europeans sure they want that?

Although Zakaria is correct about Blair's speech helping the continent contemplate this, it is really Bush's willingness to go it alone against Saddam that is putting the ball in Europe's court in the first place. Without that, no reexamination of previous policy, including the abuse of Security Council status, would be possible. Still, Zakaria's simultaneously pro-American, pro-U.N. (rightly understood) contention that France and Russia have hijacked the Security Council and his emphasis on Blair rather than Bush have proven to be "challenging" to liberals. This is no small accomplishment on Zakaria's part.


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