Iraq Bids Ban Fuels U.S.-Europe Rift

U.S. Ban on Firms in Nations Against Iraq War From Reconstruction Bids Fuels Diplomatic Rift
Across Europe, response was swift and angry Wednesday to the U.S. order barring firms based in important allied countries opponents of the Iraq war from bidding on Iraqi reconstruction projects.

The article then summarizes reaction from the French, the Germans and the Russians, along with a sprinkling of comments from the EU. (And, oddly, also includes negative reactions from Canada, which wasn’t in Europe last time I consulted a map.) [Of course, given plate tectonics, it might have changed.]

There are a number of interesting buried assumptions in this. First is that Europe speaks with a single voice, and that any trans-Atlantic rift which might be developing is between the US and a monolithic entity known as “Europe”. Second is that “Europe” is synonymous with the “Axis of Weasels”.

It doesn’t seem to acknowledge that the majority of members of the EU are helping the US in Iraq and presumably would not be on this blacklist. And it very definitely doesn’t acknowledge that the real rift is inside Europe itself. There’s no rift between the US and UK, or between the US and Poland, or between the US and Spain; there’s only a rift between the US and the Weasels.

And why do I get the impression that the reporter, or his editors, thinks that the rift is our fault, and that it is incumbent on us to eliminate the rift by moving towards the Weasels, instead of them moving towards us?

I find the term “important allied countries” interesting. France and Germany are countries, alright, so at least it’s not totally wrong. But are they “important”? And more to the point, are they really “allies”?

I don’t think they’re as important as they wish they were. (In fact I’m damned well sure that France isn’t as important as the French think it should be.) And it is my opinion that they ceased being allies more than a year ago, for any meaningful value of “ally”.

Meanwhile, here at home the Democrats continue their pattern of substituting reflex gainsaying of everything that the Bush Administration does for anything that looks like a consistent and reasoned foreign policy.

The senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, called the new policy a “totally gratuitous slap” that “does nothing to protect our security interests and everything to alienate countries we need with us in Iraq.”

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean cited the policy as an example of the Bush administration’s “confrontation” approach “all over the world.”

Why, exactly, do we need France in Iraq?

Biden isn’t thinking this through in terms of foreign policy. What if we let all companies from all nations bid equally; would that not have been an equally gratuitous slap in the faces of the countries which actually did help us? And with respect to our security interests, doesn’t this policy seem as if it would encourage other nations to be more forthcoming and cooperative in future?

If you don’t disproportionately reward those who helped you, would you not expect fewer to help you in future?

…Ah, but there’s help and then there’s help, and there’s another hidden assumption here…

Neither of them are thinking it through in terms of domestic politics, either, or at least not thinking it through very far. Do they really think that the majority of Americans will be scandalized that we’re being so unfair to the French, after the way they behaved last winter?

There are some who will be; there are some who think we need the French and Germans. But that same “some” are the ones who opposed the war and think that the French and Germans were right all along. And the reason why those “some” will object to this policy is that they think that the French and Germans were actually offering more valuable help than such sycophantic suckups as the UK, Australia and Poland. The real problem was that Bush was too stupid and intransigent to listen to our real friends, Chirac and Schröder.

But opinion polls have consistently shown that they’re a distinct minority among the voting population and are not, shall we say, held in high regard by the majority. And again, Biden et al are not thinking through the implications of the alternative. Most of that $18 billion came from US taxpayers. If the bidding process was wide open, and if a lot of those contracts ended up going to companies in Weasel-occupied Europe, how would they explain to Americans why so much of our money is going to reward nations which did their damndest to screw us royal a year ago?

If someone tries to walk over you, you can either meekly accept that your lot in life is “doormat”, or you can confront them about it. I’ll go with confrontation every time. I am no doormat.

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