Jewish World Review Feb. 19, 2003 / 17 Adar I, 5763
Old Europe's last hurrah
The objection of France and Germany to acting on the
obvious necessity of disarming and dismantling Saddam
Hussein's regime is not the first breath of a new age of
peace but the last hurrah for fading powers seeking to
throw around a weight they don't have.
It is quite like the Suez Crisis of 1956, when Britain and
France felt they could go it alone and, without even
informing the United States until the last minute, launched a
pre-emptive attack, allied with Israel, against Egypt. Their
goal was to recover the Suez Canal, which the Egyptian
dictator Gamal Nasser had seized.
The two powers met initial military success - but soon
found themselves isolated on the global stage as President
Dwight Eisenhower, outraged, threw his lot in with the
Soviet Union in demanding a cease-fire and pullback. The
lesson, apparently lost on France, was that neither nation
still had the clout to go it alone without U.S. backing.
The two nations experienced decades of impotence after
Suez. The same will be the legacy of France's and
Germany's last stand against America's Iraq policy.
The United States will invade Iraq in a matter of weeks and
will win quickly. The diplomatic maneuvers of French
President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder will be revealed as the bankrupt and powerless
posturing of two has-been nations.
The world will see how little they count and how minor the
United Nations really. France's veto and Germany's voice
will be consigned to the irrelevancies of history.
But that's the minor point. The major point is that there will
no longer be an organization within which they can or will
be taken seriously.
The United Nations will not, in the future, be the relevant
forum within which to make decisions about international
action. Just as nobody would think of asking the U.N.
General Assembly what it thinks because it is dominated by
nations with no power and less legitimacy, so no one will
ask the Security Council for its opinion either because it
can be impeded by the veto of powerless powers.
All of these prerogatives will be pre-empted, de facto, by
the decision-making entities of the United States and
(because of her courage in doing what is right) Britain. If
Paris or Berlin want a say, it will have to be at 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue, not in Brussels or in the U.N.
Morally, the French and German position - and that of our
domestic peace demonstrators - will be undermined and
undone by the reality of what Saddam Hussein is doing
behind closed doors. If Saddam is found, posthumously, to
have been wrongly accused and we find none of the horror
stories about weapons of mass destruction were true, the
critics will triumph.
But if our troops find the labs, bio-bomb factories,
chemical-weapon stockpiles and nuclear research
programs that Secretary of State Colin Powell says are
there, the voices of France, Germany and the U.S. left will
be stilled for a long, long time to come.
Why are the French and the Germans walking into this
trap? For the same reason Britain and France did in Suez:
Ego and an inability to perceive how the world had
changed. Just as London and Paris in 1956 did not grasp
that global politics had become bi-polar, Paris and Berlin
today do not now grasp that it is uni-polar.
In both cases, the powers of the old regime reflexively
acted on past assumptions before their irrelevancy was
brutally brought home to them.
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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Dick Morris