This morning, as I listened on NPR to what Germany and France are saying about Iraq, I found my self suddenly reminded of Europe in the years between WWI and WWII, and, in particular, in the late 30s and early 40s, when everyone was so terrified by what had happened in WWI that they were willing to overlook anything rather than go to war.
There was an interesting commentary, by some guy who was an expert on Franco-German relations, talking about the motivation of each of these folks. Germany just has an aversion to war. This is understandable, but may result in them being somewhat voluntarily blind to things. France, on the other hand, appears to have an aversion to a world in which the USA effectively does whatever they want, and so have set themselves to oppose the US view whenever possible. Now, I’m not sure that either of these assessments are actually accurate, since I don’t really know who that guy was, or what he had been smoking, but these both seem very plausible to me, and it further seems that this may result in some disagreement in the future that may cause this historically-improbable alliance to fall apart.
And, before anyone thinks that I’m comparing anyone to Hitler, I’m just not. It seems to me that just about everyone is making silly decisions for silly reasons. Hussein is condeming his people to a long stretch of misery at the hands of the rest of the world, because his pride does not permit him to submit to the demands of the international community. The USA is, in my uninformed opinion, sticking to our initial decision, and will stick to it, regardless of what happens. We will go to war with Iraq, and we will depose Mr Hussein, and I can’t imagine that any turn of events will avert this outcome. It’s really just a matter of time, and a matter of who will be in it with us. If I were to assign reasons for this, I can’t say that they would be far from the pride that I attribute to Iraq.
France and Germany and Russia – who can say? Certainly not me.
And I can’t say who is right, although I am much more persuaded now of Mr Bush’s position than I was 4 or 5 months ago. The issues seem fairly clear – the UN asked Iraq to do something, and for 12 years they have refused to do it. The UN promised drastic outcomes in the event that Iraq refused to comply. So what is in question is, what are those outcomes, so vaguely specified, and is 12 years long enough to comply with the requests? I am glad not to be a politician, and I am glad that these decisions are not mine to make.
But, back to my initial point, it seems that the insularism and “gosh we hope everything will just work out nicely” attitude that we’re seeing now is alarmingly reminiscent of what we saw in the last years of the 1930s, and as Phydeaux observed, the very same people that are saying that we should not take any pre-emptive action are the ones that said that we should have taken pre-emptive action prior to the second week of September, 2001.