Coward Old Universe…

by Jeremy G.

Posts Tagged ‘Anne Applebaum’

The Return of International Willingness?

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on June 10, 2007

In a quite bizarre column last Tuesday in the Washington Post, Op-Ed writer Anne Applebaum recited a eulogy in the memory of New Europe.  Her point is simple: The mere fact that Aznar, Berlusconi and Blair are gone shows the limits of the alliances Bush maintained in Europe, and is yet another sign of failure of this country’s administration in the international realm. 

The argument is not dubious, it’s fallacious.  Applebaum selects the cases that suits her reasoning best, overlooking until the end of the article the most notable cases of Germany and France.  Whereas in 2002 Schröder was elected in Germany on an essentially anti-American agenda to cover his own domestic failures, he was quickly ousted from office only four years later by Angela MerkelNicolas Sarkozy, who never hid his admiration for the United States and the closeness he feels with Israel, left no chance to his competitors in the French presidential elections last month, showing in the process that expressed sympathy for America was not a strategy doomed to failure.  And that’s not saying anything about Tony Blair’s re-election in Great Britain in 2005, in spite of what Applebaum calls the “Iraqi failure”, nor the extraordinary circumstances under which Aznar lost power – Aznar was a favorite until the very end in the first election ever decided by Al Qaeda.

The lesson of all of this?  Europeans are not as dumb as some would hope, and understand far better the real stakes of current international politics, beyond the situation in Iraq.  The ludicrous controversy Putin tried to launch on the issue of the missile defense shield fooled no one in Europe, as the issue of Iran is a widely shared concern throughout the West.  It is hard to understand how Putin’s bluff, that this shield was against his own country, was not brushed away as ridiculous sooner.

The true question is whether or not the US political and intellectual class will have the courage to recognize that the current Bush-bashing, related to this Administration’s inability to take care of Iraq, should not prevent Americans from redefining the rules of international activism.  Should the mess created in Iraq lead us to remain arms crossed on all of today’s inacceptable issues?  Has the Iraqi turmoil discredited any type of political activism for the future, and condemn the US to systematic inaction as the world goes south?

Applebaum‘s conclusion – America’s arrogance is all the more so irrelevant that it could collaborate with Germany and France – is unfounded because Washington can find in Paris and Berlin two fundamental allies to redefine the possibilities for broad and ambitious international missions.  Kouchner‘s nomination should be interpreted as such.  One that would involve signalling to Russia that threatening Western Europe with its missiles is inacceptable could be a start.



The picture is still fuzzy…  But who knows?


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