Wednesday, May 17, 2006

FOULWEATHER FRIENDS

"The French are a great ally. They will always be there when they need us."

A common complaint against President Bush is that he "squandered all that goodwill" that the world was showing after 9/11 by his actions against terrorism. Immediately after 9/11, the gestures of solicitude and solidarity poured in from countries around the world. In Great Britain, for the first time in history at the changing of the guard in front of Westminster Palace, another anthem than the British one was played: the American national anthem. Even NATO met and invoked a Cold War-era treaty clause that notes that when one member is attacked, all members are attacked. NATO thus declared that should the United States take a military response, NATO will help it militarily or politically.

But a scant year later, nations such as France, Germany, and Russia were all critical of the United States, growing in volume and disagreement until events such as the desecration of an allied graveyard in Normandy indicated that at least some people around the world were no longer in solidarity with the United States. What happened? Did President Bush and the actions of the United States destroy the support of the world?

Right Thinking Girl wrote an article about this subject, questioning if nations truly are your friends if the only time they show it is after a horrific attack:

But America doesn’t like being anybody’s victim. It’s just not who we are. Within a day or so we were picking ourselves up and looking around for the ones who momentarily knocked us on our ass. Then we picked ourselves up and went after them with everything we had.

That whole ‘retaliation’ thing was just so gauche.

Imagine it. If we had simply lain some wreaths, had our little candlelight vigils, and agreed that Islamofacists were our friends, we’d still be buddy-buddy with just about everyone. Because, after all, you don’t need strong friends if you’re just going to lay around and be a weenie. You need friends when you’re making tough decisions and taking tough actions. Of course, once we showed our true colors, France began to burn the “We Are All Americans Today” backissues of Le Monde and decided that we were not so victimy, and therefore not as loveable. And thus the “America squandered the goodwill” meme was born.

Right Wing News picked up the story and commenters there had this to say:
"The French are a great ally. They will always be there when they need us."
-by StanW


What we squandered is the opportunity to play "the victim who had it coming". We were supposed to act like an alcoholic who finally realizes he needs help after driving his car into a tree, or someone who catches an STD while cheating on his wife.

With the exception of our few true friends (UK, Aussies, Canada, maybe Japan and some Eastern European democracies), everybody else's "goodwill" came with strings attached. We were supposed to mourn and repent and apologize for being the world's big bad bullies.

Thank God we had a President in office that did the right thing in response instead of following the self-destructive principles of geopolitcal liberalism. Better to be unpopular rather than powerless.
-by MikeM


Boy...here's a girl who's never been out of the country or travelled much.

I find it interesting that the only possible scenario she could come up with in responding to 9/11 is "go after them with everything we had" or hold candlelight vigils and agree the islamofacists are our friends.

This strikes me as a fundemental problem many have who both think about policy or pursue it. They are unable to think outside the box, instead relying on simplest, easiest, most black or white options.
-by Wino

"Realist political theory (vasty simplified) states that nation-states are rational actors that operate in their own best interest. Countries that stood to gain from a strong United States supported us, while those that stood to benefit from a weak United States paid lip serivce to 9/11 then opposed us when we moved to strengthen our position."
Obviously EVERY states goodwill comes with strings attached--Australia and the UK are not exempt.

You are assuming that balancing prevails in the international system. Many analysts have argued that in fact the post 9-11 world is one dominated by bandwagoning--i.e., just about everybody jumped on the "war on terrorism" train, including states like Pakistan and Libya. Europe, for example, is certainly NOT balancing against the US--they would not consistently gut their defense spending if they meant to pose a challenge. The disagreement lies in how to prosecute the war against radical Islam--and this split didn't occur with the war in Afghanistan, but with the war against Iraq.

BTW, a wide range of prominent REALIST scholars decried the war in Iraq, arguing that it would weaken our relative power. With regard to Rumsfeld's quote below, realists would be characterized as CYNICS.

The war against Iraq was supported by many IDEALISTS, both neo-conservatives and liberals.
-by KMB

"The disagreement lies in how to prosecute the war against radical Islam--"
Absolutely. They want to talk tough, send some strongly worded letters, but DO nothing.
"..and this split didn't occur with the war in Afghanistan, but with the war against Iraq."
Too true. But that's because so many of our "friends" were secretly in bed with Saddam. You ever hear of the Oil-For_Food scandal?
-by Good_Ol_Boy


Since 9-11-01 I've traveled to England, Sweden The Czech Republic, Germany and Denmark. Most of the people I discussed 9-11 sympathized with the US, mostly because they couldn't imagine what they would do if it had happened on their soil. One must remember the activists that marched in parades against Reagan in the 1980s are the "leaders" of nations like Denmark and Germany. A single event that didn't directly affect them isn't going to change their feelings towards a country that it has been fashionable to hate since the 1970s. Countries like the Czech Republic and Poland (several associates here in the US) have been our friends since the fall of Communism and look favorably on the US like the rest of Europe did in the aftermath of WW2. The today’s back biting b*itches like France are the same backbiting b*tches they were on 9-10-01. Being a victim is going to do little to change the attitudes of countries that fail to realize their place on the world stage has long been removed.
-by Hockey_Goon_of_RWN

"Are you saying US national security thinkers are so naive as to focus only on one threat at a time?"
And there is your answer. People higher up with access to a lot more intelligence (of ther surveilance kind, not brain power kind necissarily) could look at the Scenario back after we took down the Taliban and decide on any number of courses of acton. It was said (I think by you) Iran and North Korea were bigger threats than Iraq (at least in hind-sight, from our best estimates at the time, this may not have been the case). They both would have also been far more difficult challenges, costly in resources and life, to both sides. In keeping with your own statement about being able to focus on more than one threat at a time, why discount the possibility that Iraq was chosen, not only because it was a threat (working with best inteligence of the day, hind-sight doesn't count) but also because it would make future fights easier. If he have a marginally stable Iraq to use as an in theater base of operations, any action against Iran is made that much more doable. As for Korea, they are a threat if allowed to have Nukes, but their leadership (as insane as Kim Jong-Il is) is a bit more stable and rational than Iran's, plus China won't let them have nukes in the long run either, these two measures make Korea less worrisome than Iran. War isn't tag, it's chess.
-by Chris_RC

"this split didn't occur with the war in Afghanistan"
The first ANSWER anti-war protests took place on 20 September 2001 in New York. NYC Teachers Against War joined with ANSWER the next weekend. Workers World Party joined in the clamor the weekend after that.
-CavalierX


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