They Won’t Have “W” Any More
There has been a tendency, particularly in Western Europe, to blame “the Bush administration” for every foreign policy difficulty, every war, every vicious act of terrorism, and every unhappy foreigner – particularly every unhappy Muslim radical, Sunni or Shiite.
There has been a tendency, particularly in Western Europe, to blame “the Bush administration” for every foreign policy difficulty, every war, every vicious act of terrorism, and every unhappy foreigner – particularly every unhappy Muslim radical, Sunni or Shiite. For years, they could thus curry favor with Iraq (Germany and France raking in billions under the Oil for Food program), Syria (France) or Iran (German banks with the complicity of the government) or Russia (all of them, as their winter gas supplies are dependent on Russian pipelines), knowing that the United States would try to defend what were once called Western interests even as they sneered at us.
If the Western European countries really want a cooperative relationship with the United States during the Obama administration, they will be forced to be honest (something new for them).
Either they find Iranian nuclear capability a threat and are willing to do something about it (perhaps sanctioning the European banks and energy companies still making a fortune in Iran), or they don’t. But if they think the United States will unilaterally do something about it so Europe can denounce it, they’re probably mistaken.
Either they find Russian interference in independent countries on its periphery objectionable, or they don’t. But if they think they can mortgage their energy future to Russia and have the United States rearm Georgia or protect Poland while Europe calls us cowboys, they’re probably wrong.
Either they think Hezbollah is a terrorist organization swallowing Lebanon’s multi-ethnic/multi-religious democracy, or they don’t. But if they think Europe can play with Hezbollah while the United States protects the French position in Beirut and Damascus, we probably won’t.
Either they think Hamas is a threat to Israel and Jordan – as well as to less radical Palestinian interests – or they don’t. But if they think the United States and Israel will control Hamas while Europe denounces Israel’s “excessive use of force,” it probably won’t happen.
For better or worse, America is probably about to scale back the business of security for others. Frankly, we are concerned that the Obama administration will be less than forceful about threats and more likely to believe they can be handled through negotiation and a little “give and take” among people who really just want to get along. If both the United States and Western Europe decide that threats to our interests were previously overblown, or that dictators and terrorists will change their minds about their own interests because we have a president who isn’t “W”, we will have lost the balancing function.
There will be trans-Atlantic harmony for a while, but at what cost?