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Tackling Iraq: The European Perspective

What does Europe think of U.S. rhetoric against Saddam Hussein?

January 21, 2003

What does Europe think of U.S. rhetoric against Saddam Hussein?

As U.S. rhetoric against Saddam Hussein acquires an ever harsher tone, the global opposition against a U.S. led war against Iraq is increasing. In a recent television appearance on CNBC's "Capital Report" with Andrea Mitchell, The Globalist's Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Stephan Richter, explains the European perspective.


he German government is strongly opposed to a war, as is the French. Is this domestic politics — or is this the final position of the German government?

It's all of that. It's domestic politics. It's history. This is a nation that has created great tragedy in the world by deciding unilaterally to go to war.

The German government — just as this President here in the United States — used this war as a campaign issue.

That is never good. But politicians are politicians and they will do that.

They did that much to the consternation of George Bush. Relations are pretty frosty now.

Yes. But who is he to cry? The Democrats have their own thoughts on that issue — as do many voters in this country.

I think that what is very important to understand is that we live in an alliance of democracies. In such an alliance, democracies debate. The fact of the matter is that in the United States, for a long time we have had relatively little debate about the war.

That doesn't mean that the rest of the world should do the same thing. In a historic context, I find it very important that Germany is a country that was re-democratized by the United States in the 1950s.

That mission worked very successfully. The Germans today are not heal-clicking yes-men anymore. And I think everybody in the world should be happy about that.

So to that extent, the opposition that originally came out of Germany is good because now we find much more opposition in the rest of the world.

The French are doing it much more elegantly — as they are wont of doing because they have the privilege of growing up in Paris and learning much more about style than those German bumpkins. But on substance, most nations around the world are pretty united.

Isn't the bottom line that the French and the Germans would come along if the United States decides that it has to go to war? After all, no one wants to be on the losing side — and everyone knows that the United States will win a war. Will the Germans come along?

If, in a second vote, the United Nations should decide that it is time to go to war, then I think the world community should stand together — and that it will stand together.

In the absence of UN support?

No, that is not advisable. From an American perspective, remember this. Let's assume that the Americans win, then you have 100,000 to 200,000 American soldiers in Iraq.

What has happened in any past military action? The Americans were interested in then having other countries do the peacekeeping.

The Europeans are going to send troops into the very messy situation that nobody doubts a post-Saddam Iraq will be. They need an alliance now going in — and also for the exit scenario.