Wednesday, February 19, 2003


HERE'S A CZECH OPED arguing that France and Germany are positioning themselves to head a new Warsaw Pact, waging a new Cold War against the United States -- and using the same "peace movement" in the same way the Soviets did.

I guess it's not surprising that the New Europe doesn't like that idea all that much.

UPDATE: And check out this editorial from a Romanian paper making a similar point.

Communism wrung our neck while the honourable democracies issued communiqu├ęs. And now they are surprised that all the countries in the former communist bloc do not give a damn about obsolete stratagems of France and Germany.

You can't get much plainer than that.
or dumber. I mean, there isn't really much to say when you're trying to raise the spectre of a new Cold War using the device of "...aggressive anti-American pacifism... threatens to break apart the West into mutually inimical European and American parts", as the original article did (at least according to the blogger that translated it). Or "Let's hope that the US will face down the current peace-making anti-imperialist aggression", which just sounds like parody, unless one is actually encouraging an American empire.

Hey, wait a second....

This whole business about "old vs. new europe" originally annoyed me, because it was a blatant and obvious attempt to try to isolate France and Germany by describing two of the most advanced countries in the world as "old", and I had figured that the concept was well and truly dead when all four of the other veto-carrying security council members mocked it by describing themselves as "old civilizations" too (including Britain). It prompted Colin Powell to make an extraordinarilly lame claim about the United States being an "old democracy" itself, despite it being clear to all involved that this whole "old vs. new" technique was an attempt to harness the percieved youth of the United States to its own advantage.

Now, with several countries latching on to this description, it's just mystifying. Not why they're doing it (they're hoping to get the protection and support of the United States, and have little to lose from an Iraq war; it's also a dandy way of gaining prestige, even if they know it's just a gambit), but why they're so shortsighted. The only way that these countries are going to be able to develop and become "new Europe" is if they trade with (and perhaps integrate their economies with) "old Europe". The United States isn't going to replace their neighbours; no matter how big the American economy is, it's across an ocean and a good deal of landmass for most of Eastern Europe, and it's certainly not going to drop its protectionism any faster than Western Europe. So what's the point? There seems to be an obsession with Western Europe not helping Eastern Europe against the communists, but why not address the United States' superpower status at the time and the complete inability of Western Europe to save them? Sure, one could point at WWII and the allies' behavior prior to the war, but it wasn't like the United States immediately saw the problem and jumped in to save them. And what about memories of WWI, a war whose beginnings are suspiciously similar to the events currently taking place? I can understand the United States ignoring one war and focusing on another, because WWII was a defining moment for the U.S., but that doesn't explain European attitudes.

(The history of U.S. client states isn't exactly a positive thing either; why anybody with any alternative would want to become one is beyond me.)

As for this "new Cold War" Just, no. France and Germany are behaving just like any other set of countries that have different interests and mores than the the United States; the difference is that they share the same political and economic system (more or less) with the States, yet are powerful and resilient enough that they don't need to court the U.S. in order to survive. This is relatively unique; most states either don't fit the former definition (like China) or the latter (like Russia, Japan or Canada). It is usually in their best interests to cooperate with the United States, but that cooperation is neither guaranteed nor should be expected. In this case, on this issue, they disagree with the U.S. That doesn't make this a new Cold War, or any sort of a war, unless and until one of the parties starts getting belligerent.

Somehow, I doubt it's going to be the "aggressive pacifists".

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