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Time out, go to the corner

Recently, the Observer reported on US plans to punish Germany by pulling out US troops. This would hit Germany’s economy fairly hard.

Glenn Reynolds covered this in one post.

Two days later, Chirac threatened Romania and Bulgaria for their pro-US stances. Reynolds covered this, and covered this, and covered this, and covered this, and covered this, and there are another four or five references which I won’t link.

Atrios, who’s more or less Glenn’s counterpart on the left, hit the Rumsfeld issue once and hasn’t commented on Chirac’s threats. No points for ignoring Chirac, but points for relative consistency.

I think both Chirac and Rumsfeld were over the line, and I think it’s hypocritical to harp on one while ignoring the other. It seems to me that both statements reflect a fundamental confusion about the definitions of ally and enemy; or, more accurately, they reflect a failure to realize that there’s something in between. Germany and France are not saying that they’ll oppose the United States militarily if we invade Iraq, they’re saying they don’t think we should do it and they won’t vote for it in the Security Council. Similarly, the European countries supporting the United States aren’t threatening to invade France if France doesn’t stand aside, they’re just disagreeing.

It is somewhat disturbing to see disagreement treated as if it were active threats. The first country to threaten force in the US/Europe dispute was, um… us. The second was France. Neither the French or US citizens should be proud of either action.

5 Comments

  1. Dor Dor

    “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” is as useless in actual international relations as “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    Applying the second of these cliches got us into this problem in the first place, having armed both Iraq and the Taliban. If we apply the first to Europe, we’re going to cause a worldwide Depression. Let’s think, shall we? What happened the last time Germany’s economy collapsed. Oh, wait, that was before there was a Bush in the White House, so of course it’s irrelevant.

  2. Hard to dig up the link on the Sidekick, but the CNN piece about “Freedom Fries” (they’re like French Fries, only more patriotic. Nothing against the French, mind you. It’s, you know, as nationalistically neutral an act as kicking dachsund’s because they’re in league with the Kaiser.) made me more afraid than anything (including every act of violent terrorism) private citizens have done in the past decade. (Bush deciding that SDI was the best thing to come out of the Reagan era, better even than trickle-down economics, is still scarier, though.) This (both Bryant’s entry, and the Freedom Fries) is the factionalism I was talking about, and as long as this manufactured crisis persists, I can’t see it doing anything but getting worse. I cannot imagine what benefit we’ll receive from prosecuting a war in Iraq that will outweigh the damage this is causing – which is what makes me suspect that the factionalism is the end, not the obstacle.

  3. t.rev t.rev

    To be contrary, I think you’re comparing apples and oranges here. Rumsfeld’s threat is to an existing arrangement, so it’s arguably more serious, and on the other hand it’s arguably a practical consequence of the dispute–Germany’s opposition may interfere (at least slightly) with the ability of the US to direct the forces stationed there, now or in the future.

  4. I’d agree with you that Rumsfeld’s threat is more concrete, but that’s offset by the fact that (so far) it’s a backchannel threat. Rumsfeld didn’t come right out and make a big speech in public, which means he’s got room to back off. Trial balloons, whee.

    Hm, maybe the deniability makes it more repugnant, now that I think about it.

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