Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Never understood it to begin with
Today's OpinionJournal column from Brendan Miniter: "If George W. Bush is a cowboy, then one of his most trusted hands just brought in a stray. Thanks to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent trip to Europe, Germany is now promising to rejoin the herd migrating toward Iraqi democracy. This was not how it was supposed to be. Last year John Kerry claimed only he could bring in the wayward European cattle."

I wondered when he said it what basis John Kerry had for claiming that only he could get other countries to begin participating in the coalition effort to build up and stabilize a democracy in Iraq. I also thought it was a dangerous precident to set, that if foreign governments don't like the current administration in this country, they can make their desires clear and throw their weight behind one candidate or another, subtly altering elections here to their benefit—it's just another way that Kerry wanted to keep American interests secondary to foreign ones.

Anyway, read the whole thing. He goes on to point out: "It should be said that this was the likely result for whoever won the White House last November. Europe cannot long afford to isolate itself from the United States. [...]
Nations are not second-graders, even if they sometimes act like it. Refusing to share one's military toys or threatening to not be their friend is not enough to create a vast trans-Atlantic rift. In his 1796 Farewell Address, George Washington noted that there are no permanent alliances, only permanent interests. The speech has often been used to justify an isolationist foreign policy. But in fact, Washington advised the nation to get involved in foreign affairs only when it is in this nation's interests to do so, while expecting the same from other nations."

Which was precisely the argument of many (including myself) who supported the Iraq war when France, Germany, and Russia balked: the debate should not be about international consensus, it should be about whether or not this is the best path for this country. Again, not the debate Kerry wanted to have—and part of the reason he lost.

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