Friday, May 18, 2007

Are European Governments Even More Abject than Democrats?

In a (slightly) more just world than the actual one, the architects of the Iraq War – Paul Wolfowitz, in the lead – would be standing before a competent international tribunal, defending themselves against charges of war crimes, crimes against the peace, and crimes against humanity. Instead, Wolfowitz got to “negotiate” his retirement from the presidency of the World Bank – not for his major crimes, not even for his mismanagement of the Bank, but for unethically fattening his girl friend’s wallet. He got his way – he’ll leave, but no mention will be made of his ethical failures (as if the whole world doesn’t already know!) Inasmuch as the entire bank staff and most of the world’s governments desperately wanted him out, he could hardly not have agreed to quit his post; at least not without sinking the World Bank – not a bad objective, but certainly not one he could embrace. Why then did he get as much of his way as circumstances allowed? Apart from the secret of how someone like him could have a girl friend at all, even a foul tempered one, what did he have to offer in exchange for clearing his name? Why did the representatives of the European governments cave? One is tempted to attribute their miserable comportment to longstanding habits of servility before American power. This is surely part of the explanation. When it comes to standing up for themselves, the European governments resemble Clintonized Democrats – that is, nearly all Democrats before the 2006 election and the majority of Congressional Democrats to this day. However, the Democrats are much worse. Bush may be toast, but unless we succeed in forcing Democrats to get their act together enough to impeach Cheney first (followed by the rest of that sorry lot), the Bush administration still has more than a year and a half in which to do catastrophic harm. In the circumstances, appeasement is not unreasonable. Yes, the Europeans lack the courage of their own (or any) conviction. Yes, if they stood up to Bush, the world would be better for it. But at least they can justify their cowardice, as Neville Chamberlain did, with arguments that are not blatantly incoherent. Compare that to the mutterings emanating from the POP, the Party of Pusillanimity, according to which opposing Bush wars entails funding them, and supporting troops entails turning them into targets.

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