Martin Varsavsky writes on the relief felt throughout Europe at the fall of President Bush‘s approval rating. During the peak of Bush‘s popularity, his anti-European, confrontational policy of you’re either with us or against us did a great amount of damage to US–European relations. In Varsavsky‘s opinion, although the democratization of Iraq has failed, now that US public opinion is beginning to understand the fallacy of Bush‘s close-minded approach, trans-Atlantic relations will be greatly improved.
IT HAD TO HAPPEN. For too long a time Americans bought their President’s argument that you are either with us or the terrorists. But over here in Europe, the reaction has been, we are not with your Iraqi policy President Bush, but we are certainly not with the terrorists.
To most people in Spain where I live, a country that has suffered terrorism for over 30 years and that on March 11th of 2005 suffered a terrorist attack which on a per capita comparison had as many dead and injured as September 11th of 2001, this choice was simply offensive.
Spain’s decision to leave Iraq was not based on the Spanish government’s decision of being soft on terrorism. On the contrary, for a country that has successfully contained terrorism without compromising its democratic principles for decades, leaving Iraq made sense because not only there were frequent human rights violations but more importantly because Spaniards as well as most Europeans became convinced that the Iraqi invasion was creating more terrorism than it was destroying.
Now after 3000 military casualties and over 100K Iraqi civilians dead, most of America agrees with Europe. Even hardcore Republicans are opposing his request to increase troops in Iraq. Iraq now is not about winning the war but about finding an elegant way out of this troubled country. As for the possibility of Europeans increasing their presence in Iraq, the chances are very low. For Europe’s politicians backing President Bush’s is a ticket for early retirement.
But while the bad news is that the attempt at transforming Iraq into a democracy has failed, the good news is there is a much better environment for trans-Atlantic relations.
As Americans reject Bush’s policies in Iraq, Europeans’ sympathies for America increase. Now one of the sad side effects of President Bush’ confrontation with most of Continental Europe over Iraq had been that for a while it became un-American to like Europe (remember the Freedom fries?). Well thank God this is over because there are no more natural allies on the planet than Europe and USA. Think of how successful America’s intervention which was done in tight coordination with European allies, was in the Balkans. In the former Yugoslavia, in the heart of Europe, all sorts of atrocities were being committed and Europe had not gathered the strength to stand up against ethnic hatred. America intervened militarily with Europe’s support and today most of the region lives in peace.
The Safe Democracy Foundation would like to invite you to subscribe to its weekly electronic newsletter, delivered to you every Thursday, with analysis and commentaries from our international experts (click here).