February 10, 2003

I believe Bill Quick, back

I believe Bill Quick, back from his mercifully brief fishing trip, has the right idea here:

I still think Bush waited far too long to attack Iraq, and most of his international problems stem from that fact. The endless delay reassured American enemies in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere that Bush was not a serious man on the question of Iraq, and that he could be rolled if threatened with non-cooperation from international bodies and from Saudi, Germany, and France.

That said, I think there is no longer a question of whether there will be an attack, and (I certainly hope) soon. Everybody likes the lunar blackout for the first assault of the bombers, and that comes on March 3. I think the international maneuvering going on around the Iraq issue has more to do with the US facing down the UN, the EU, NATO, and Grance. It has been quite obvious that Colin Powell, whose advice was responsible for Bush treating with the the UN in the first place, felt utterly betrayed by his "friends" in the Middle East and, more particularly, Europe.

But if Powell feels betrayed, what do you think GWB feels? First, he must feel something of a fool for listening to Powell over Rumsfeld/Cheney/Wolfowitz, and second, there is nothing a cowboy despises more than professed friends who turn out to be backstabbers.

I don't think Bush set out to do a rope-a-dope, but I think it is entirely possible that is what he is engaged in now.

By default at least. Facing down Old Europe is the only option left. Bush's lack of resolve has been disappointing in the past, but, to paraphrase Churchill, doing the right thing is a bit easier once you've exhausted all other possibilities. Steven Den Beste has teased out all the possible negative consequences to US policy of the supposed Franco-German proposal ("supposed" because it's not entirely clear that it actually exists.) Even if it is only an "announcement," it bolsters French credibility as an opponent of the US, which will come in handy for years to come in some quarters, but I doubt they are serious about it. The last thing they want is for such a "proposal" to be accepted; and they know full well that neither the US nor Saddam would ever accept it. They simply want to profit from whatever awkwardness will accompany the inevitable rejection of it. But whatever they gain in prestige as a champion of anti-Americanism will be dwarfed by what they will lose (the last shred of credibility as a supposed "great power" and the pretense of "leading Europe," at minimum, and also perhaps, the exposure of collaborationist skullduggery) in the event of a successful US-led campaign to liberate Iraq. That's their greatest fear, indeed, but they must know they can't prevent it. Which is why they will probably abandon these monkeyshines and sign on in the end, issuing pantywaist protests of "reluctance" all the while.

But what did you expect from a king in silk stockings and pink satin pants?

Posted by Dr. Frank at February 10, 2003 12:13 PM | TrackBack