The last few days have witnessed histerical German media. Apparently, the US administration is not amused by the chancellor stating his disapproval for an invasion of Iraq as clearly as possible. A lot of analysts think that the US are right to be pissed off because they think that Schroeder is simply using the topic for his campaign (if so, it did certainly pay off), therefore creating unnecessary international tension and that he will later be forced to do anyway what he says he won’t before the election (should he be reelected).
Two things to that: One, the Iraq discussion certainly is a party political issue in the US as well. There is a lot of discussion going on. I don’t think it’s fair to denounce that in other countries, simply because they have upcoming general elections. In addition, if the discussion is owed to campaigning it should not be taken seriously anyway. But if the US government thinks that its foreign policy has to be treated at some level far above day to day politics, they should think again. Policies that are affecting everybody’s interests in the most crucial ways have to be discussed publicly. That’s crucial to a liberal democracy. Sometimes dissent is unavoidable.
Two, isn’t it great? So many Europeans lamenting about the US government not listening to its allies. And now that. I don’t think the issue has received the same kind of attention in the US – especially not during the week before 9/11/2002 – but who can say that they don’t listen to what we say if the chancellor can stir up so much attention once he says no? And he’s just the bad European of the day. Blair, the good European is having tea with W in Camp David this weekend. Honestly, isn’t it a bit like good cop, bad cop? Do the European foreign policy strategists think that treating the US from two angles is increasing its influence? I wonder…
But anyway – things probably aren’t as bad between the old and the new world as typical crisis hunting journalists on either would love them to be. The US government knows that Europe, including Germany, will support it, should it actually go in. Military support will probably be limited to showcase troops – simply because there isn’t anything useful Europe has that the US has not (maybe apart from this German ABC clearing unit already deployed in Kuwait). But Europe will probably pick up a large part of the tab by providing controlling and nation building resources after the initial intervention. Just as in Afghanistan. If we like it or not.