Friends & Enemies In The Post-Iraq World
Friends & Enemies In The Post-Iraq World: There are quite a few interesting stats in the latest Pew Poll that I thought were worth commenting on. In fact, there’s so much stuff in here worth talking about that I’m going to have to keep my comments short or this post will end up being ridiculously long….
To begin with, we’re less popular in Europe than we used to be although the numbers have gone up quite a bit since the last Pew Poll. We’re at a robust 70% favorability in Britain, but at 38% in Spain, 43% in France, & 45% in Germany. I expect those numbers to continue to creep back up as we get farther away from the war (at least until the next war), but I don’t see them getting back to where they used to be. Without the Soviets to hold America & Europe together, I think it’s very possible that we will become rivals over the next decade or so (and yes, that includes Britain). That’s unfortunate, but there are a lot of people in Europe working very hard to drive wedges in-between the United States and Europe because they believe that’s a necessity if there is going to be a truly united Europe. We often try to paper over the differences, but America and Europe see the world very differently and I believe our conflicts with Europe are just beginning, not at an end.
Interestingly enough, Americans don’t think too much of certain parts of “Old Europe” either. The favorability rating for the French has dropped from 79% to 29% and Germany has taken it on the chin almost as bad with a plunge from 83% to 44%. I’m sure that surprises a lot of Europeans who have been taking shots at America for years with no effect, but 9/11 has changed everything. Americans correctly view their security as being at stake and they have little patience with what they view as ingratitude from European nations that have frequently taken our help in the past, but now sneer and show us the back of their hands when we’ve asked for their cooperation in return. As I said, “I believe our conflicts with Europe are just beginning, not at an end.”
Furthermore, America is VERY unpopular in the Muslim countries that were surveyed. Our unfavorable rating is 83% in Turkey & Indonesia & although the actual numbers aren’t mentioned in the article, supposedly they look similar in Jordan & the “Disputed Territories”. The article also says that in Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, & the “Disputed Territories” Bin Laden was tagged as one of the, “three political leaders they would most trust to do the ‘right thing’.” That number probably isn’t as damaging as it would appear since the % of people who actually picked Bin Laden wasn’t mentioned & may be relatively small. In any case, I believe that if we help Iraq become a Democracy and support Democracy in the region where we find it, those numbers will change radically in our favor over time just as they did in Eastern Europe. Now they’re not sure of our intentions, but if we’re consistent and help the region start to become free, attitudes will change.
Then we come to a quote that is going to make a lot of Conservatives happy, “In fact, not a single country surveyed has a majority who believes that the United Nations still plays an important role in dealing with international conflicts.” I love it! That quote reminds me of something I wrote back on October 17, 2002 in a post called, “We’ll Get Our UN Resolution — Or Else“. I got something right and something wrong in that post. I turned out to be wrong when I predicted that we’d be in Iraq by the end of Feb “at the latest” in that post. But, I did nail this….
“On the other hand, Russia and France (they’re the real hold-ups on the UN security council) have a lot to lose by not giving us what we want. Iraq owes Russia billions that it will never see unless it goes along with us. Both nations have companies with contracts to develop Iraqi oil fields that are worth tens of billions of dollars. Unless they go along with us I’m sure the new Iraqi government will decide that those contracts are null & void. Moreover, France, Russia, and The UN itself risk becoming largely irrelevant if the world’s lone super power defies them and invades Iraq without UN approval. Since both France and Russia have gained a great deal of power and prestige from being the UN Security Council, having the UN lose credibility would be devastating for them.”
Everyone has been so busy talking about the Iraqi museum, getting Iraq under control, and WMD that they’ve forgotten the TITANTIC hit that France & Russia took over this whole thing. Not only did not going along with us cost them billions, they also frittered away most of the UN’s influence on American policy. Now that we have invaded Iraq without the UN’s approval, the United Nations is hemorrhaging credibility & they’ve lost their hold on us which suits me just fine.