747-451: Perhpas "appeasement" isn't the right word. It appears here that the appearance of not wishing to do anything "forceful" or "distasteful" is more to the point.
Well, I sincerely hope
halfway civilized society has some inhibitions against bloodshed. But the german refusal to tow the Washington line goes deeper.
The overwhelming popular support wasn´t created, it was already there right from the beginning of Bush´s war campaign. And it has more than just one root. Some of them reach back to the east german peace movement which was one of the main forces in overcoming the former socialist regime of the GDR. Most of the churches have joined the peace movement with uncharacteristically strong statements. Even the american anti-Vietnam-war protests have had a strong and lasting influence on the development of the german democracy.
747-451: 12 years is not a "rush" to "war" or to even take some sort of action to rid the world of SH's threats;
That´s exactly one of the arguments from the critics: Why don´t we suddenly
have enough time to achieve a properly legitimized UN decision after all these years of (so far successful) containment? Why does Washington have to put on this break-neck schedule exactly now
Saddam is no more or no less a criminal than before; There is no
perceivable immediate threat
coming from him, while the fight against terrorism has already lost a lot of momentum due to this "detour".
People in Europe have had many years of experience with terrorism; It looks strange to many that Bush so willingly seems to sacrifice the difficult but necessary anti-terrorism campaign for a "fresh war".
747-451: The recent inspections have gone on for only "weeks", but what have the last 10 years been up until SH had the arrogance to remove the inspectors?
Saddam is certainly arrogant (and not the only one at that); But the inspectors in fact left Iraq when the allied attack on Iraq was immediately imminent. Saddam had no part in it. It´s a popular myth, but still just a myth.
747-451: Diplomatic solutions have been exhausted. Sanctions have failed and failed miserably.
Wrong. The inspectors had no flashy "smart bomb camera" videos, but they did a lot more
damage to Saddam´s strategic aspirations than the war did, as hard as that seems to believe. The war threw his troops out of Kuwait - which I am in full agreement with - but the military impact on his stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction was minimal to nonexistent, I´m afraid. That tough and dirty work was done by the inspectors and was kept up by the sanctions (although the latter have side effects that need to be addressed).
747-451: I cannnot understand why Collin Powell's evidence is not enough to justify some sort of action,
Unless any of the evidence can be verified independently
, it does not rise to the level of proof
, as much as it insinuates incrimination. And the best tool for independent verification is still the ongoing inspection campaign, even though it can be a challenge to our patience.
One of the problems is that the Bush administration has demonstrated an early eagerness to "get Saddam" that makes them a clearly interested party
in the process, which - as in any trial - weakens
any evidence produced by them.
747-451: not neccessarily warfare but something above and beyond sanctions and censure--something France and Germany clearly do not want to do anything more than just maintain the status quo.
I´ve read and heard american and british commentaries to that effect, but I wonder where the commentators got their information from. Knowing the german position from up close, I can only guess that they didn´t bother to keep track of current events in Germany. Which I don´t have a problem with in principle; It just takes away from the weight of their opinions.
One of the main problems in that context has often been that almost all proposals that would have a noticeable effect in a difficult situation like Iraq´s would also require military backing
. Which - at this point - more or less automatically means american involvement.
It is not even necessary to presume ill intent, but american administrations have been somewhat less than enthusiastic in response to outside suggestions. It usually wasn´t quite as bad as it is now, but usually the US side refused to get involved in plans that hadn´t originated in the White House. Effectively, Washington has monopolized discussions about topics possibly involving their strategic assets. Which is understandable, but it basically nullifies whatever influence others might have had.
As bad as the current situation is, I think there is a real possibility that Germany might start thinking a little more independently in the future.
The emotional friendship between our nations will endure; I´ve got little doubt about that. But the open displays of contempt and derision as the primary response
by the US government to a disagreement on the issues
has certainly soured the quiet acceptance of a "serving role" in the transatlantic relationship for many german people. An actual discussion
about the issues, as appropriate among real partners
, would have prevented the entire mess.
I´m not sure how many discrete attempts at a discussion had preceded the more blunt and public remarks of Gerhard Schröder, so it is somewhat difficult to actually assign blame for the start of the malaise. But the deterioration would have been stoppable - and it still is.
747-451: keep in mind that the US has classified information which we chose not to divulge until the time is right--explaining the "lateness"--doesn't EU intellegence agencies keep some things under wraps until they have more substantiation???
Neither the publication of the satellite photographs nor of the audio tapes would have "burned the sources". So there was no good reason to withold this information. Unless
it was intended for propaganda use, it appears.
That it was also based in part on an outdated, plagiarized report from teh british side damages its credibility further. As do the verifyable alterations
to the original text, which are closely consistent with an attempt to boost the propaganda value of the original, somewhat more differentiated statements.
It does not shed a favourable light on the pure intentions of the report´s proponents, either. It is obviously necessary to scrutinize all parts of the evidence very carefully
747-451: And no, it is not working, since SH is still palying games by hiding things, moving around from place to place etc etc. If all of this were to work, SH should abdicate his rule. But meglomaniacs rarely if ever capitua;te to anything other than severe force.
There is still no legitimation to unseat
Saddam. If there was to be such a thing, it would by necessity be bound to a broad global consensus. Right now we´ve got a unique global situation where real progress could be made in reforming and beefing up the UN to the point where such a change of objective might actually be achievable.
But as things stand, Saddam is difficult to impeach from the outside - except
maybe through the international court for his past war crimes. But even then, the burden of proof
remains on the prosecution
. If the world community doesn´t
apply the most basic rules of proper procedure
in high-profile cases that would otherwise be available to every "civilian" murderer, it automatically loses any right
of indicting offending dictators or war criminals.
So at this time, the mandate is only
good for disarmament
for an offensive war
with a predictable civilian death toll
in the thousands
747-451: Please watch what you say; it can be percieved as "arrogance" on the part of Europeans to say our emotions are running high.
One of the things that is grating on almost everybody´s nerves is the impression that many americans - certainly including
the sitting administration - equate criticism of any kind with some sort of lese-majesty
instead of seeing it as a mere opinion
of other people who may
have a point but who just as well may
be mistaken. I´m no more infallible than anybody else.
But especially when some people are crying for other people´s blood
, they cannot
be above criticism
. That is just not possible
. I still try to be as objective as I can, so maybe there´s some value in my observations. And I do not
model my opinions to insult people, as much as I don´t modify them just to please them.
747-451: That may in fact be, but logic prevails since we are members of the world community just like France and Germany.
No, that does not follow. Holding logic above emotion takes an effort
, it is not just granted
automatically by merit of one´s status. And it looks as if such an effort is drowned out
(if present at all) by the fervent nationalism currently coming from the White House. That
is my main point there. Believe me, I would love
to see evidence to the contrary.
Or what else did you mean with that statement?
747-451: Secondly, we have always strived for the kind of security we had before 9/11; we never would put up with the kind of Terror that Europe has and continues to endure--since that is so uncivilsed.
I don´t get your point, I´m afraid. What do you mean by "putting up with Terror"? What do you expect? Would you nuke Northern Ireland? Or the basque territories? Or the whole of Germany because there were (and maybe still are) some
terrorists somewhere in there?
Or what is your concrete proposal
My point is this: All experience with terrorism has demonstrated that it is a very, very difficult, often very long-term and exceedingly complex task to fight terrorism. Short bursts of action are a rare exception
, not the rule. Ask the britons, they´ve also got a lot of experience, and they´ve not been squeamish about it.
On the emotional
level, the incredible amount of chest-thumping and big rethoric currently heard from George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft may have a soothing effect on the collective emotions of the american public. But as important as it is to not lose faith in the future and to not let the attackers create a sense of panic, propaganda is almost completely inconsequential
for the actual fight
That one is lead and possibly won mainly by hard work, intelligence (in both senses of the term) and endurance in the long run. And there still is no absolute security
, as sad as it is.
Waging an offensive war on Iraq will almost certainly raise
the terrorist threat in the short run and do almost nothing against the long-term threat: If you fear islamist terrorists with their hands on nukes, look no further than to Pakistan
, where the (currently allied) dictator Musharraf is fighting to keep on top of a virulent islamist scene right next to the nuclear weapons he´s currently waving at India. This
situation is a lot more dangerous
than Saddam´s Iraq with the inspectors at work. Not even speaking of North Korea
, threatening South Korea, Japan and possibly China and Taiwan.
What makes the global public so incredulous at Bush´s strategy is that it is difficult to actually recognize any consistent strategy at all
- beyond "he tried to kill daddy" and probably oil and other strategic interests. And that is just not enough to justify
the dismantling of the UN and the predictable destabilisation of the entire "Koran Belt".
747-451: I also suggest that the European press avoid the hyperbole that they accuse the US press of doing so that the clear facts of how BAD SH and the fact that we are not "reckless cowboys" would be presented properly.
There´s no lack of presentation of Saddam´s crimes.
And - when you´re looking beyond the occasional cheap rag - the reporting is actually pretty differentiated over here. The level of emotions is still relatively low, almost clinical, in fact. And I do
look at US and british media for comparison.
747-451: The one fact that cannot be ignored is that SH is terrible and has to go, period.
Emotionally, I agree. But when thinking about starting an invasion that would foreseeably kill thousands of civilians in addition to possibly several thousands of allied and iraqi soldiers, the standards need to be a lot
higher than just loathing the one guy that hides behind these civilians. "Well, but I just hate
Saddam!" is a weak excuse
when the body bags and pictures of mounds of corpses in iraqi streets are coming home.