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:: Saturday, January 25, 2003 ::

Cold War II?

Steven Den Beste has been speculating a lot lately on what's going on behind the scenes in the diplomatic dance behind Iraq.

One (not so) recent post wonders if Chirac and Schroeder are suddenly digging in their heels due to fear that acts of treachery will be discovered if Iraq is occupied. Here's the thought that got him going:

The reason I bring this up is that the sheer tenacity with which Chirac and Schr�der continue to do everything in their power, even at this late date, to try to prevent our attack seems to go well beyond pandering to their own internal leftist power bases, or any exercise of true conscience (even if I believed that had anything to do with their opposition to this war). It's reached the point where their efforts are demonstrably damaging their relationships with us, for instance, and that doesn't seem to have diverted them even though their chance now of stopping us is damned near nil. They're paying a big certain long term price in hopes of achieving something which is very unlikely. Why?

Speculating forward from the premise of treachery leads to some pretty scary possibilities -- consider the fallout (sorry) if Iraq were to use a nuke against American troops and it was later discovered that French and German companies helped them build it. That's obviously an extreme scenario, but most of the likely outcomes lead to a serious rift between the US and Europe (at least with France and Germany).

How's this for another explanation? What if Chirac has decided that the UN has outlived its usefulness, from the French point of view. It�s been a fun couple of decades, but it seems likely that the UN will be thoroughly discredited by this whole Iraq. If the UN gambit is over, Chirac has to be thinking about what�s next and trying to find some way to maintain France's status on the world's stage.

Along comes a weakened Schr�der, looking for any port in a storm, who offers a pact to essentially seize Franco-German control of the EU, on terms much more favorable, and with a greater chance of success, than France has been able to get on its own. That (probably) gives them the governmental throw weight within the EU to turn it into a credible opponent to the US, but just barely. There are plenty of countries that would offer serious resistance, enough to slow the whole project down and possibly place it in jeopardy.

But... If they can pin the blame for the demise of the UN on those unilateral cowboy Americans and wrap themselves in the mantle of warm, fuzzy anti-globo, anti-capitalist goodness, they can win the support of a whole lot of moderate voters in other European countries. Appearances probably matter more than facts in this -- consider the number of Europeans who are outraged about Kyoto without understanding the first thing about it.

Popular support is just the lever they need to start moving those pesky Spaniards and Eastern European governments under the umbrella. As an added bonus, they pick up the sympathy of the entire NGO community and their PR apparatus (which, one could argue, is the most effective aspect of many NGO�s). The UK would be forced to jump one way or the other, but I think the French would be just as happy to see them align with the US.

Have we just seen the opening shot of Cold War II?
:: Erik | 1/25/2003 11:11:00 PM | | ::

Here goes nothing. I'm still tinkering with templates and such, so bear with me.

You can reach me at: waxtadpole2003@yahoo.com
:: Erik | 1/25/2003 10:10:00 PM | | ::

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