Europe is Still United
What is at stake as European leaders urge “unity and cohesion” in efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein?
February 4, 2003
Some pundits in the United States have interpreted the joint statement by these heads of government in the Wall Street Journal on January 30, 2003 as a move to back the Bush Administration’s drive to oust Saddam under any circumstances — with or without a second United Nations resolution.
That is quite unlikely — for two reasons. First look at the chart below:
|Do Europeans Really Back U.S. Invasion?|
Respondents who “rather disagree” or “absolutely disagree” that the United States should intervene militarily in Iraq even if the United Nations does not give its formal agreement.
1. Solid majorities — of more than two-thirds in six of the eight countries — are against taking action without another UN resolution.
2. That is true even for the countries in the "new Europe" — the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary.
3. Germany and France differ only in so far as their populace is even more in favor of UN support than the other countries.
Before U.S. political operatives get carried away in their happiness about a split Europe, we have one recommendation: read the letter.
For starters, the article by the eight European leaders clearly states that:
- “[O]ur wish is to pursue the UN route.”
And nowhere does it say that these countries want the United States to go to war unilaterally — or that they would participate if such a decision was made. Also, the article reads that the signatories are …
- “confident that the Security Council will face up to its responsibilities.”
Again, this clearly endorses tackling the Iraq issue via a second UN resolution — and is fully in line, in fact, with the French position.
The points outlined in the Wall Street Journal article are therefore in most regards closer to the French and German positions than to that of American hawks. The latter openly despise the United Nations — which stands in contrast to the eight government leaders who signed the article. And they are using the op-ed to exaggerate European support for their agenda.