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Monday, February 3, 2003



Part Two Tomorrow


Actually, a more accurate sub-title here would be "The European Allies of the US at Fives and Nines," the exact number of how they've lined up so far, explicitly, in supporting or opposing the US-led campaign to topple Saddam Hussein's regime as part of the wider war against terrorism. Eight is the exact number of NATO allies on that continent that signed an explicit declaration last week supporting President Bush's position: Britain, Italy, and Spain --- the former two roughly 60 million in population each, Spain 40 million --- plus Denmark and Portugal as the other EU members (both less than 10 million), and in East Europe Poland (40 million) and Hungary and the Czech Republic . . . about the size of Denmark and Portugal. Nothing too surprising here. As we've repeatedly noted over the last several months on our listserver, it's journalistic sloppiness to say that the US has been at odds with its European allies. If anything, the only surprise about that declaration was the failure of Holland to sign. Its government, after all, officially went on record last fall --- backed by a parliamentary resolution --- supporting the US coercive diplomacy aimed at Saddam's brutal regime and its weapons of mass destruction programs, nuclear, chemical, and biological . . . to the point that the Dutch resolution called for going to war with the US even without UN Security Council approval.

What explains the lack of a Dutch signature last week? According to one report in the New York Times today, Safire the French and
the German governments, getting wind of the campaign led by the Wall Street Journal to prod the pro-Bush allies into action, tried to muscle that gang of 9 into a backdown, and only the Dutch --- who have a brand new government, just elected, that is much more to the left than was the case last fall --- caved in under that pressure.


Who are the 5 staunch opponents of the Bush policies in the war against terrorism, especially on Iraq? France and Germany, needless to say, at the helm: France with 60 million, and Germany 80 million; plus Greece, almost always down with a case of the sulks, and Belgium where the government has been in a situation of semi-crisis for years now, so many scandals and administrative blunders botching the political record there that they're making Greece look well governed, and Norway . . . neither in the EU nor active in NATO since the end of the cold war despite being governed since the fall of 2001 by a moderate conservative-right wing coalition government.

The EU Neutrals

The other countries in the EU --- Ireland and Finland (4 million each) and Austria and Sweden (roughly 10 million each) --- are neutrals and not in NATO, with Sweden specializing for decades now in a kind of hectoring self-righteous moralizing about American turpitude and idiocies, a role now being challenged by the German pc-pointmen in the media and the Schroeder coalition with a big backing in public opinion . . . the Swedes having done nothing in the 20th century, as millions of Britons, Americans, Canadians, and other democratic countries died in war destroying German militarism, Japanese racist militarism, Nazism and fascisms galore, and --- thanks to NATO and deterrence and containment --- overseeing the collapse of the Soviet Union and communism globally. Belatedly, the Swedish government --- fearful of a neo-Nazi upsurge in the country --- has started an education campaign about the evils of Nazism and even mentioned the unspeakable: in WWII, Sweden's neutrality was pro-German and included such things as letting Nazi troop trains move from Norway to Finland and back and forth --- a policy that, under international law, would have justified Anglo-American attacks on Sweden as a belligerent. For that matter, during the long cold war, the sanctimonious harangues of the Swedish government were almost always pro-Soviet, as though the only way the always-in-power Swedish Democrats (in power since 1933 uninterruptedly except for a brief interval in the late 1980s) could demonstrate their socialist purity as they presided over a sharp decline in Swedish prosperity and per capita income --- from one of the richest 3 countries in the world in the 1950s to about number 19th by the early 1990s --- was to huff and puff repeatedly at the emerging capitalist hegemon, AKA hyper-hegemon in the new French parlance (a recent coinage of the previous French Foreign Minister).


Occupied by the Anglo-Americans in the West and the Russians in the East in 1945, it was a divided country until 1954, when the occupying powers withdrew and established a unified neutral Austria. During the Nazi era (1938-1945), Austria actually supplied more Nazi party members as a percentage of the national population than did Germany itself, but it never went through a de-Nazification process as the West Germans did, and the Austrians could pretend for decades that they were a conquered German vassal, a helpless victim of Nazism . . . to the point they had elected a former Nazi war criminal, likewise the former UN General Secretary, Kurt Waldheim, and were indifferent to others' criticisms when Waldheim's Nazi record was made public.

Finland and Ireland

As for Ireland, 4 million --- the richest country in the EU now! --- it has been officially neutral since the Republic's founding in 1923, and Finland --- attacked by the Soviet Union in the fall of 1939 after WWII began and the Soviets and the Nazis signed their pact that led them to try dividing East Europe among themselves --- joined the Germans when they attacked their former ally in June 1941 and owed its neutrality after 1945 to its heroic military record in that 1939 war.



Led by a left-wing Social Democratic-Green government that was elected last fall in a surprising outcome --- thanks to Gerhard Schroeder discovering the magic of anti-American feeling he pandered to in the September electoral campaign --- Germany has emerged as the outspoken anti-American voice in the EU, as though the Germans are hellbent on showing that if they were the most militantly aggressive militarists in Europe for decades before and during the Nazi period, they can be no less militantly bigmouthed in their moralizing self-righteousness and the "new German way in world affairs." Since the election, Schroeder's popularity has plunged without respite --- a new record in German politics --- and about the only thing keeping it from blasting right through the earth's crust and ending in China on the other side of the globe is his staunchly brave blasts at Bush, the US policy toward Iraq, and American bullying, unilateralism, and boneheaded resistance to the German-led utopianism that is supposed to lead the world out of power politics and into the promised Shangri-la of green pastures, permanent sunshine (albeit its deadly rays, now a global threat too unless the US signs the costly misconceived Kyoto Treaty), welfare-state prosperity and somehow the salvation of the German economy itself, for years now the worst performer in the EU --- breathing right down the neck of the front-running has-been, Japan --- and of course permanent peace, justice, international law, and endless diplomatic palaver for dealing with the likes of Saddam Hussein, the clerical fascists in Iran, the Mafioso fascists in Syria, and the crackpot Marxists in North Korea . . . all somehow addicted to WMD and supplying weapons to terrorist groups or governments that seem to support them.

Note: Nothing really new in German anti-Americanism on the popular level.

By the early 1980s, the combination of militant environmental agitators, rhetorically belligerent pacifists, and post-radical New Left types who came out of the radicalized German universities of the 1960s and 1970s --- all dominating by then the media, with only the Christian Democrats led by Kohl as a barrier --- had enjoyed a big impact on public opinion as surveys in those days repeatedly showed. More precisely, younger Germans under 40 were markedly anti-American, and the older German generations --- who remember the US occupation, the Berlin Airlift, Marshall Aid, and defending German independence against the Soviet Union in the early, more conflict-ridden period of the cold war --- were retiring or dying off. The gap in attitudes was pronounced here. By the time Schroeder and his Green allies came to power in 1997, the former radicals of the 1960s and 1970s now dominated German politics as well as the media, the universities, the churches (especially Protestant), the welfare services, and the educational profession. Schroeder himself overcame the embarrassment early on in office that arose when photos taken in the early 1970s showed him in a radical protest ganging up with fellow radicals to kick and beat a downed policeman . . . likewise for Lionel Jospin, the former French Socialist Premier until last spring, the same sort of chequered, furtively kept past --- in his case, as a former Trotskyite who was told by his party head in the 1970s to infiltrate the French civil service), same sort of embarrassing revelations, same sort of shrugging-it-off.


This last observation --- the former student and young anti-American, anti-capitalist radicals of the 1960s and 1970s holding political and administrative power in many EU countries (and even if not in the governing parties for the moment, dominant in the media and educational and university systems) --- is important. It can't be overemphasized as a driving wedge between the US and West Europe over time, even more in the future than now, and no less significantly, it reflects dislike and repugnance to American life, culture, and politics -- not just foreign policies or this or that administration in power. And the more the US flourishes and grows economically much faster and more powerful compared to the semi-stagnant Germans, French, and others (only three or four small EU countries show many signs of economic dynamism), the more resentments, envies reflected as hostility, and anger will be reflected in these elitist circles.

Do the masses of average European people share this reflexive anti-American syndrome? Not nearly to the same degree, save in France. Survey data makes that clear. We'll return to this key topic later on.


Back to our analysis of the two countries that lead the anti-Bush crowd in Europe.

France, 60 million --- the same size as Italy and Britain, with Germany 80 million after reunification; and with all four sharing roughly the same per capita income, around $24,000 . . . just above the EU average and about 2/3 of the US level ($36,000) all in purchasing power parity --- has been the long-standing leader of resistance to American influence, political or cultural or economic, for decades now. A member of the NATO alliance since 1949, it withdrew from the integrated military command in 1966 when President de Gaulle ordered NATO and US forces to leave his country, and then pretended to have an independently targeted nuclear force (5 Polaris subs now, with two usually always at sea, but half that number in the 1970s) even though subsequent NATO documents released to the public showed that behind the scenes the Gaullist government coordinated with NATO's targeting against the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. In 1995, President Chirac --- who leads the right-wing coalition dominated by Gaullists (ardent French nationalists) -- offered to return France to the integrated military structure of the alliance if France could take control of the Mediterranean NATO forces, including the US 6th Fleet . . . roughly the equivalent of the Greeks asking to take command of the French navy. For some odd reason, President Clinton didn't seem to leap at the offer.

De Gaulle's nationalism --- while embedded in the Gaullist right-wing party (heavily statist, heavily in favor of French power, influence, prestige, and independence if the latter is possible, if not then sharing with others as with Germany or the EU but with an eye to dominating them and leveraging French power) --- isn't confined to the right.

On the contrary, in a badly divided country until the late 1980s, Gaullist-inspired nationalism has been the only ideological thrust shared across the entire French political spectrum, a unifying force that has roots in the long history of France as a great power (dominant in Europe in the 18th and early 19th century, though losing 5 wars to Britain between the end of the 17th century and Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815) --- and then, ever after, aggravated by continued decline in French relative wealth, power, influence, and political impact . . . though its cultural impact was strong throughout the 19th and early 20th century, since which time, roughly 1940, that too has waned markedly as several French observers have noted and fretted about. This decline can't be underscored too much. To put it bluntly, the French have been perennial losers in international power politics for two centuries . . . ever since Napoleon, a power-grabbing megalomaniac, plunged Europe into almost 20 years of solid war until his defeat (itself, at Waterloo, following an earlier defeat the year before, exile, then escape to France and rallying another national army to conquer Europe). Slower industrialization compared to Britain and later Germany was reinforced by incompetent military leadership: three times from 1871 through 1940, Germany attacked France, and twice it was defeated in startlingly surprising ways within weeks. Only in 1914 did the French army rally impressively, stop the German invasion at the Marne, then in coalition with the British and Russians (later the US) win the war . . . even though on all sides, save the US which entered the war in 1917 and had no army until the last few months in Europe with an offense-oriented strategy, it was probably the stupidest war in generalship ever fought by great powers.

Then WWII. In 1940 --- despite having more soldiers and tanks than the Germans (with the British also deploying several hundred thousand troops and armor) --- the French government surrendered in six weeks thanks to a poorly considered military strategy and tactics; and de Gaulle, a young general, fled to England where he was armed and supported by the English (later the US too), while a collaborationist pro-Nazi Vichy regime ruled in France for the next 4 and a half years. By 1943, a small civil war was being raged in the country between the Vichy forces and the Resistance, dominated by Communists in France itself, but influenced by de Gaulle from London.

Then in 1945, liberated by the Anglo-Americans, France plunged immediately into 18 years of disastrous imperial wars in Indochina and Algeria. Only since 1964, following a couple of years of near civil war and almost a dozen assassination attempts on de Gaulle's life as the president, has France enjoyed political stability . . . itself badly shaken, however, by nation-wide strikes in 1968 joined by student rebellions around the country. Nationalism, as de Gaulle understood when he came back to power after the 4th Republic (1945-1958) fell as a result of a rebellion of the French army in Algeria, was and is the major unifying force of a country. That means France is unique among influential countries in using foreign policy mainly for purposes of domestic support and nationalism. True, all governments are tempted to do this, even in the democratic world; none, however, remotely approaches France in its efforts here . . . doubly so for three other reasons:

  • The French president, universally elected (the only one in West Europe), dominates French foreign and military policy irrespective of which party or parties dominates the cabinet government and hence has the confidence in principle of the National Assembly. Foreign and military policies are essentially sealed off from major political debate this way.

  • The French state, by far the most powerful in Europe, is itself dominated by a small cadre of elitist civil servants formed at a couple of special schools, ENA and Polytechnique. They dominate political leadership (all prime ministers and presidents since de Gaulle until the existing prime minister have been Enarchs), they run all the powerful civil service bureaus, they run the nationalized industries --- these include all telecommunications, trains, buses, metros, and aviation (save for a small private one) ---they run the state-owned and state-controlled TV and radio, they dominate all the educational system through centralized Parisian edicts, they run all the major banks (private or public, it doesn't matter), and those who dominate and manage big private companies are, with few exceptions, former Enarchs too.

  • Television and radio's control by the state --- a degree of censorship without rival in any industrial democracy --- ensures that dissenting commentaries about French foreign and military policies have to be confined to printed journalism.

  • For a rounder perspective here, finally, of the ways in which French foreign policy is used for domestic purposes, consider this striking comparison: the US constitution was adopted in 1789, the same year as the French revolution. Since then, the US has lived with essentially the same political system --- save for the civil war. By contrast, France has had 15 different constitutions and political systems: republics, empires, royal systems, military collaborationism (Vichy). Since 1939 alone, France has undergone 4 abrupt transitions in political system, with three of them provoked by military defeat or the threat of military rebellion as in 1958 and the collapse of the 4th Republic.

    III. Franco-German Collaboration to Dominate the EU and Balance US Power?

    The answer to this question is easy: yes, if they could get away with it and, no less important, if they really agreed on all basics: about the EU's governance, about relations with the US, about great power aspirations.

    Briefly to clarify: On these former score, governing the EU,their deal last month to carve out some cockameanie dual-leadership scheme for the EU --- an uneasy and awkward effort to reconcile irreconciable views about EU governance --- was no sooner announced with lots of fanfare in the French and German media than it encountered bursts of raspberries and hisses all over the rest of the EU: from the British who don't want any political unity however strained, from the Italians and Spaniards as a German-Franco effort at dominating them (something Berlusconi's Italian government has criticized for two years since coming to power), and from all the small countries as big states trying to push them around. What's more, the expansion of the EU into Eastern Europe in two years time will make it even more difficult to agree here. As for Schroeder's clumsy effort to appease the French on agriculture --- the Germans traditionally see the EU system as costly and burdensome and time-consuming, the French insist on preserving it as highly beneficial to French farmers even by threatening to veto any reforms --- it's likely to only add to German economic woes and lead any future German government to revert to a coalition with the British and others to reform that economically wasteful scheme of welfare support for French farmers . . . again, with the urgency of such reform underscored when the more agrarian East Europeans like the Poles enter the EU.

    Quite apart from the predictable way this scheme for a duo-dominance in the EU backfired, the Germans and the French continue to disagree sharply about the political nature of governance. Essentially, the Germans favor some sort of federal EU: an universally elected president, a stronger parliament, a cabinet responsible to the parliament, with a constitution spelling out federal as opposed to existing state areas of authority. The French want nothing to do with any such federal plan. Fervently attached to French national independence and sovereignty, they want at best a Europe-of-States in a confederal sense maybe, in which the existing Council of Ministers --- where the states decide on laws and policies for the EU by means of a weighted majority, the 4 larger state members having more votes than the smaller --- is strengthened, and to which the two executive heads (one supposed French, the other German) would be fully accountable. There seems no way to bridge this gulf.

    On the latter scores of foreign policy, disagreements abound as well.

    Essentially, the Germans and French don't agree about much except for the need and desirability of organizing the EU to more effectively counter-balance US power, influence, and unilateral initiatives in the world.

    Otherwise, they disagree about almost everything else. In particular, the French aspire markedly to ever greater influence and power -- if need be, using the EU and Germany to leverage French influence globally and be seen by a fantasized group of developing countries, not least Arab states including the Evil Axis, as the natural opponent of American hegemony --- whereas the Germans are content with exercising some no less fantasized moral influence. The Germans! As for relations with the US, differences also exist of a notable sort. The German right, while having to cater to growing anti-American sentiments in the public for years now, doesn't share French desires to rid Europe if possible of American power and influence; and especially if Islamo-fascist terrorism erupts as is increasingly likely throughout the EU, but especially in Germany and France, the German right will revert most likely to its traditional policy of close support for American diplomatic and military initiatives. To succeed here, of course, that means the right has to come to power; and while Schroeder seems to be bungling to beat the band, he's likely to stay entrenched until the Christian Democrats can find a more dynamic and attractive leader than the last couple of years (Stoiber). And in fact the New York Times carries an article today in which the Christian Democrats outrightly accuse the Schroeder government of purposefully misleading the German public about the nature and gravity of Iraq's WMD programs and threats to the EU. Schroeder-Lies

    The French government, not facing such an opposition to its policies toward the US on the left, is playing a cagier game over Iraq and with the US. The only way it can check the US right now --- never mind the future -- is by trying to entangle the US in a thicket of UN Security Council obstacles, a scheme to limit American freedom of action and, by extension, to give the French who have a veto power noticeable influence on Washington: do what I want, or no go, guys! The more the French do this, the more, they hope, the US will be tied down this way in the future. Simultaneously, such policies are popular in France, resonate with the German utopians, and -- so the French hope -- underscore France's role as the natural leader of the developing countries against cruel American capitalist hegemony.

    Cagy yes, the French game. Nothing surprising here. And as always, no surprise either . . .the game destined to overreach and make the French losers again. The fact is, the Bush administration --- widely regarded in the EU media and governing circles, especially the left and Gaullist ones in France as a group of nincompoops --- has badly outmaneuvered the French here.

    How so?

    It started with President Bush's speech to the UN last September, when he challenged it either to live up to its commitments in the Iraqi case --- 11 years of defiance --- or suffer a fate similar to the League of Nations in the interwar period: irrelevance, lots of rhetorical bombast and nothing else. It continued in the talks in the Security Council in October to deliver an ultimatum to the Iraqis. Here the Bush administration has generated a sense of inevitability that is unstoppable, repeatedly and underscored not just by Bush on every occasion since that speech -- or by Rumsfeld or Rice or others -- but more recently by Colin Powell: either the UN Security Council lives up to its commitments to disarm Iraq, if need be by force --- containment and deterrence not what resolution 1441 is about (to repeat: it is about Iraq's cooperating totally and immediately to disarm with the inspectors) --- or Bush and America will lead a coalition to disarm Iraq by toppling Saddam's brutal regime outside the UN. Exactly as NATO did, by the way, over Kosovo in 1999.

    That sense of momentum has built up rapidly. Hans Blix's report to the UN Security Council last week surprised the French and Germans and others by in effect subscribing to the Bush view that Iraq hasn't cooperated with the inspectors as it should. Bush then followed up with his State of the Union talk, reinforced by Powell's warnings here. That the administration and Blair's British government will likely give Iraq one more month not only doesn't change this sense of momentum, it adds to it with a final conclusive deadline . . . one, moreover, that is militarily convenient for the British and the US by giving us another few weeks in which to assemble our forces.

    The French, whose clever caginess perennially backfires, seem at least dimly aware of all this. That's why, unlike the German government that says categorically it won't support a war with Iraq whatever the Security Council decides, the French are much more evasively. Understandably so. For in the end, to veto a US-UK resolution in the Security Council authorizing war -- which isn't required by Resolution 1441 passed last November; rather, only a consulting about war --- would be to isolate themselves with the Germans in Europe even more from the British, Italians, Spaniards, and the future East Europeans members of the EU (the Poles, Czechs, and Hungarians, three countries slated to join the EU in the next three years or so, along with a few smaller countries, and eventually much larger Bulgaria and Rumania now joining NATO this year..

    Even more, a veto would simply drive the US to lead a coalition of about 30 countries, including several European and Turkey and key countries in the Gulf Region, to bypass the UN Security Council and leave it essentially an empty shell in the future. An empty shell allows no leverage for French influence in the future.

    Something else too. For France to veto the US-UK position would mean that it has excluded itself from any influence in post-Saddam Iraq . . . not only political, but with no scope for its oil and industrial firms, who have played a dominant role the last 30 years (exceeding even the Russians, but with German firms picking up momentum, including lots of illegal technological sales to Saddam that are forbidden by the sanctions).


    We can be much briefer here, our main aim ultimately to explain the reasons for the gulf in Europe.(to be continued tomorrow).

    Replies: 1 Comment

    Nice post.

    Germany and France are just looking way out there now. And the balance of power question was a nice touch.

    I hadn't really been counting, professor, but sure enough, that makes a good 18, maybe 19 allies (with the Middle Eastern states and Uzbekistan) in the war against Iraq.

    Always something interesting in your posts... take care.

    Posted by Enrique @ 02/05/2003 04:42 AM PST