Skip to comments.Anti-War Axis Scrambles to Appease Victorious U.S.
Posted on 04/23/2003 2:39:11 PM PDT by knighthawk
BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) - European countries that opposed the U.S.-led war on Iraq are scrambling to ingratiate themselves with the victorious United States, but France faces some punishment for its leadership of the anti-war axis.
In the last 10 days, France, Germany and Turkey have all acted to try to repair strained relations with Washington, welcoming the fall of Saddam Hussein and pledging to cooperate on a range of issues from post-war Iraq to Afghanistan and NATO.
The French have shifted most spectacularly, reversing their position to propose an immediate suspension of U.N. sanctions on Iraq and dropping opposition to NATO taking over management of an international peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan.
Diplomats said there were even hints that Paris might accept a military role for the Atlantic Alliance in the post-war stabilization of Iraq, not immediately but perhaps by summer.
"The change of tone has been amazing," a NATO diplomat said.
Yet the Bush administration has been far warmer toward Russia, which continues to insist U.N. weapons inspectors must return to Iraq before sanctions can be lifted, than it has toward France.
In the run-up to the Iraq war, President Jacques Chirac said Paris would use its U.N. veto to block any resolution allowing the use of force and sent his foreign minister around the globe to lobby Security Council waverers to oppose the United States.
Russia too threatened a veto but U.S. officials believe French campaigning did most to obstruct support for military action in Iraq.
They also say Washington has "other fish to fry" with Moscow, including enlisting Russian help to pressure Syria to cooperate both on Iraq and in curtailing its support for anti-Israeli Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups.
Turkey's refusal to allow U.S. troops to invade Iraq from the north was arguably more harmful to Washington's war plans than the French-German-Russian diplomatic blockade.
Yet Secretary of State Colin Powell has already visited Turkey and Ankara has agreed to send peacekeepers to Iraq.
Once the fighting was over, Paris also promised to be "pragmatic" in seeking solutions to rebuild Iraq. But the diplomatic damage was done.
Powell, often regarded as the most pro-European member of the Bush administration, said Tuesday that France would face unspecified consequences.
"It's over and we have to take a look at the relationship. We have to look at all aspects of our relationship with France in light of this," he told television interviewer Charlie Rose.
The French industry federation says its firms are already suffering unquantified economic damage in the United States.
Vice President Dick Cheney said recently he believed France's main goal was to rein in the United States, regardless of the threat posed by Iraq.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder won re-election last September in part by campaigning against U.S. military action in Iraq, infuriating the White House. Some analysts credited Schroeder with having pulled Chirac deeper into the anti-war camp than France had initially intended.
Germany, France and Belgium, backed by a majority of public opinion across Europe, jointly blocked NATO military assistance to Turkey before the war but eventually relented.
Schroeder has since made up with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Washington's chief comrade in arms, and has come close to apologizing for anti-American comments by some German ministers.
Diplomats say Washington is now keen to start rebuilding bridges with Berlin, perhaps partly to isolate France.
British officials say Chirac had learned the hard way that he cannot unite the European Union, or even a hard core of its founder members, as a counterweight to U.S. world power.
The EU split roughly down the middle, with five of its members and 10 east European candidate states signing public statements of support for the hard-line U.S. stance on Iraq.
Although Chirac publicly upbraided the newcomers for their bad behavior, France now seems determined to avoid deepening the rift.
Diplomats say Paris is keen to avoid any bold declaration of European independence from the United States at a four-nation mini-summit on European defense called by Belgium next Tuesday.
France and Germany, which will attend the meeting along with Luxembourg, initially advocated the idea of a pioneer group of EU countries moving ahead with closer military integration. But diplomats say the timing has given both countries cold feet.
"The French and the Germans want a low profile. They don't want the Brussels meeting to do anything that would offend the British or the Americans," an EU diplomat said.
If Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, struggling for re-election next month, had not put them on the spot by publicly announcing the invitation, Chirac and Schroeder would have preferred to delay the initiative, he said.
While the Bush administration has not spelled out what, if any, measures it may take against France, diplomats said the public ostracism of Paris appeared to be producing results.
"You just have to look at the way the French are adjusting their positions at the United Nations, in NATO and in the EU to see that the American pressure is having an effect," one said.
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Anti-War Axis Scrambles to Appease Victorious U.S.They appeased Saddam. Saddam was sent packing. So now they want to appease us. I suppose it's simply natural for them to appease--it really doesn't matter who.
We've seen since WWI the intensity of French determination on anything. If I was unbiased in it I'd say they were destined to fail at that too. Since I am biased, I'm going to actively push for the French to fail at appeasing the Coalition.
No shift really at all. Don't use the word "sanctions" any more but continue the Palaces for Oil plan. Plus ca change...
I see no need for further study. Bratty children who seek nothing but their own aggrandizement and satisfaction are well understood.
Worse pun of the day award for you, pal.
Good to hear that.