Philip Bobbitt: What's in it for US?

America will defend human rights successfully only when its own key interests are threatened writes Philip Bobbitt

Those who favour humanitarian interventions must bear this in mind: without mixed motives, without American participation, such interventions will bear the stamp of Srebrenica and Ituri, not Kabul or Baghdad. The best way of persuading governments to risk the lives of their armed forces for humanitarian goals is to establish a strategic nexus. Partly this will mean redefining what constitutes a strategic interest; partly it will mean not playing this absurd game of pretence that a state, or its leaders, can have one and only one value in mind when contemplating intervention.

The mood in Europe: Perplexity and foreboding

Giles Merrit, director of Forum Europe and secretary-general of Friends of Europe, has another article today in the Herald Tribune. He believes Europe can salvage something from the fallout over Iraq, being able to forge a new a strong United Europe with its new Constitution. But he also see problems ahead.

In the meantime, a strange mood of perplexity and foreboding has settled on Europe. Perplexity, because the Iraq war’s aftermath is a tangle of new crises whose consequences are still unclear. Foreboding, because few doubt that Europe will sooner or later pay a high price for a war that was not of its making.

The atmosphere in Brussels is particularly troubled and unfamiliar. The EU’s policy vacuum on Iraq-related issues looks almost total. No one has advanced a realistic plan for repairing either the trans-Atlantic rift or the divisions between EU governments themselves. The wider concern is the prospect of an endemic Christian-Muslim conflict, for Europeans increasingly fear the “clash of civilizations,” even if Americans don’t.

The End of the West

I have finally found the article in the Atlantic on the prospect of an EU-US war. You can read Charles Kupchan’s piece here.

The consequences of the growing rift between the United States and Europe are only just becoming apparent. The two sharply disagree on the Middle East: the EU opposes both America’s steady support of Israel and its insistence on isolating, rather than engaging, Iraq and Iran. Trade disputes are heating up, especially over steel and agriculture. Despite America’s defection from the Kyoto Protocol, the EU moved forward with more than a hundred countries participating, leaving Washington a lonely and, from all appearances, an environmentally irresponsible bystander. Last year EU member states took the lead in voting the United States off two UN commissions┬Śpayback for America’s unilateral ways.

Europe will inevitably rise up as America’s principal competitor. Should Washington and Brussels begin to recognize the dangers of the growing gulf between them, they may be able to contain their budding rivalry. Should they fail, however, to prepare for life after Pax Americana, they will ensure that the coming clash of civilizations will be not between the West and the rest but within a West divided against itself.

Death to French Fries: Matthew Engel

Matthew Engel has a funny take on the ‘French Fries’ story. He wonders why the French have become the enemy when the war is being fought against the Iraqi regime. He hints that making France the enemy was a pursued policy of the UK and US. I would be inclined to agree. Many of the arguments used against the French position were spurious at best. And things seem to be getting worse – Engel mentions a man he met in Chicago.

At the bar, there was a man from Louisiana with his plane delayed: he was getting drunker. Down there, he said, people were exercised about the war: they were pouring French wine down drains. And there was talk, he said, of changing the name of both the French Quarter in New Orleans and the state capital, Baton Rouge, which would become Red Stick.

This anti-French stuff is such blatant nonsense. What worries me is the ease with which Americans were pesuaded into hating the French. And I’m not criticising Americans specifically on this one.

What worries me is the ease with which humans were persuaded into believing other people to be bad – to the point of writing graffitti on French people’s garages. This only supports theories recently put forward that a future war between Europe and the US is on the cards – sound far fetched?

See how easy it is to get people to hate – the next step, killing in war, is not that far away from hating. There was an article in the Atlantic about this that I must refer to.

France likely to suffer reprisals from America: Joe Fitchett

Joe Fitchett in the Herald Tribune writes about the repurcussions of the French stance on Iraq. Relations between France and the US are at an all time low – following Chirac’s promise to veto any resolution on military action against Iraq.

Fitchett sites many problems that have arisen – French products boycotted by US companies and consumers, tense relations between French and American companies. An economic war may even be on the cards – and legal action within the WTO.

This follows talk of US investments drying up on the French stock exchange, and withdrawal of investment from Germany.

At some point in the future, perhaps within my lifetime, war between the United States and a United Europe may be a distinct possibility.