Monday 27 January 2003

Europe urges restraint, but Bush knows best

by Eric Margolis

Time's European edition asked its readers what nation posed the greatest threat to world peace. Of the 268,000 respondents (as of this writing), 7.8% replied North Korea, 8.9% named Iraq and a shocking 83.3% said the United States. Good work, President Bush.

The Time poll mirrors feeling around the globe, with the exceptions of Israel and Britain. American neo-conservatives, however, will dismiss this poll as just another example of European wimpiness, irrelevance and anti-American prejudice. So will George Bush and his hawkish entourage, who have made it plain they don't care what the rest of the world thinks so long as America and Israel get their way.

Last week, France's able foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, warned his nation would delay, or might even veto, efforts by the Bush administration to strong-arm the UN Security Council into a rushed war vote against Iraq. Germany, China and Russia backed France.

American right wingers harbour particular venom for France. Americans expect their allies to be obedient. While Washington constantly hectors Europe to take more international responsibility, Europeans are not expected to disagree with American policy. To Americans, France often appears downright insubordinate. Ever since Gen. Charles de Gaulle, Paris has refused to take orders or accept being a junior ally of the U.S.

Europeans see the Mideast very differently from North Americans, thanks to their long experience in the region, and their media, which provides far more accurate, balanced and diverse reporting on the region than do ours.

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