:: Bite The Wax Tadpole ::

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:: Friday, May 09, 2003 ::

Payback's a Bitch

It's perfectly appropriate for countries that opposed the war in Iraq to suffer some consequences now that the war is over, but it's extremely important that those consequences are reasonable and appropriate. Petty snubs or heavy-handed revenge would backfire badly.

I outlined some appropriate responses some time ago, but I have to confess that I never expected this (despite actually suggesting something similar).

It's perfect -- simultaneously unassailable and galling to the weasels, and it establishes Poland as a serious player in intra-European politics.
:: Erik | 5/09/2003 04:52:00 AM | | ::

:: Thursday, May 08, 2003 ::
Broken Axis

The Franco-German Axis of Weasels is nearing its end. I expect Germany to leave the Weasel-bloc during the looming UN showdown over removing sanctions against Iraq; Unless Chirac is exceptionally clever, Bush is exceptionally clumsy and Schr´┐Żder decides he has nothing to lose, Germany will stay on the sidelines this time around.

Germany now has more to gain from mending fences with the US than from poking Bush in the eye again and Germans are waking up to that fact. It's also true that a genuine pacifism (cynically exploited) was the primary force behind German opposition to the war, and it will be much harder to incite a pacifist frenzy to leave sanctions in place, particularly if doing so means further deprivation for the Iraqi people.

Chirac, on the other hand, is as staunchly anti-American as ever and he's getting awfully chummy with Putin's Russia. For his part, Putin isn't sounding much like Bush's soulmate these days. It also seems that they're taking turns drawing attention -- when Chirac sucks up, Putin starts growling and vice-versa. Is it coincidence or coordination?

Chirac and Putin make an odd couple and I'm not sure exactly what they're up to, but their interests might align better and for longer than it first seems.

France wants to be a player but doesn't know how to function in a unipolar world while Russia nurses a bruised ego and pines for its lost empire. Chirac's project to forge Europe into a French-led opposing pole is looking doubtful (in the short term, at least, and even to me). If he had the opportunity, Chirac might just promote Russia as a counter to the United States, in the hope that France could resume its accustomed cold war role of amoral profiteer neutral "power."

If it plays out exactly right for Chirac, geography, economic ties and internal bureaucratic inertia could knock all of Europe out of America's sphere.
On the other hand, it could backfire -- cozying up to Russia could well spook already nervous "new" Europeans into even closer alignment with the United States.

This theory fits Chirac's pattern of raising the stakes after each loss, and his clear obsessesion with constraining the United States. On the other hand, it seems like a dangerous (hence unlikely) proposition for Chirac. I don't have a better explanation for Franco-Russian amity and their continuing opposition at the UN right now, but the next few days should be ... illuminating.
:: Erik | 5/08/2003 01:44:00 PM | | ::

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