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Europe Does Not Care about Iraq

The Kansas City Star published the fascinating eight-part series A Good Exit: Leaving Iraq by Matt Schofield, who travelled to Baghdad, Berlin, Istanbul, Leavenworth and Washington. Matt was kind enough to seek my expertise as well. In fact, the article U.S. and Iraq need more help, less indifference from Europe starts with some quotes from yours truly:

The Germans don't care. The French don't care. The Dutch don't care. Even the British, who had been the staunchest ally of the United States inside Iraq, now seem to believe that what America broke, America bought.

"Iraq isn't on our priorities list," explained Joerg Wolf, editor-in-chief of the Berlin-based Atlantic Initiative, a trans-Atlantic think tank. He noted his opinion was based on a recent survey of 250 European policy experts. "The belief is that this is now a U.S. problem, and the U.S. has to fix it."

But Wolf and a growing number of European policy experts believe this is a huge mistake. "The fact is, if Iraq turns south, there are major consequences for Europe."

The above mentioned survey was actually conducted in September 2007 and included responses from 14 policy analysts from ten European countries, but interesting and still relevant nevertheless: Here are the links to the survey's three parts:

1. European Analysts Want America to Stay in Iraq

2. Europe Should Help, But Not Follow US Lead and

3. Premature US Withdrawal Would Threaten Europe.


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John in Michigan, US on :

Does Europe care about Afghanistan or Pakistan? Sorry, I have to ask! "The fact is, if Iraq turns south, there are major consequences for Europe." Agreed. However, major European action re Iraq is unlikely, due to limited capability and lack of political will. A more realistic goal would to be to maximize the European effort re Afghanistan and Pakistan. One area in which Europe could be particularly helpful: Europe should engage its new partner, Russia, to secure an alternate supply route to Afghanistan that doesn't involve Pakistan. But, I'm not holding my breath on that count, either.

Pat Patterson on :

Europe has already missed the boat on having a say on a new supply route because after signing an agreement with Russia and the pertinent 'Stans NATO and the US are already getting most of their supplies through an overland route that bypasses Pakistan and the Khyber Pass completely. Which indicates that the current administration though seen as more accomodating to Russia has actually accomplished little that was not already hashed out between the two countries with the EU. So that old out dated NATO still shows some life while Solana is still measuring the curtains.

Pat Patterson on :

That should have read that the US and NATO negotiated with Russia without any input from the EU except maybe an occsional crying from the kid's table in the other room.

Marie Claude on : umm, it's better to make businesses

Pamela on :

Link #1 has an example of why I don't waste my time reading these weenies. ---------- the “main problem [with the current strategy] is the heavy emphasis on security instead of creative political initiatives to encourage national reconciliation.” ---------- I would die early of stress-related heart disease. Without security you got nuthin'. See Somalia. Link #2 - the military approaches are all couched as 'helping the U.S.'. There is NO thought of helping Iraq. Other than that it's all about Euro's skin in the reconstruction game, i.e., show me the money. Link #3 -------------------- And Techau argues that Europe would lose because of “the moral, political, and military weakening of America as the sole guarantor of global stability, ------------------ Europe - always up for a free ride.

Don S on :

"The belief is that this is now a U.S. problem, and the U.S. has to fix it." "But Wolf and a growing number of European policy experts believe this is a huge mistake." "The fact is, if Iraq turns south, there are major consequences for Europe." Good points, Joerg. A few people have been snarking on you for overly Europe-centric analysis, but I think I see your point, which is that if Europe is to break out of it's mindset that fixing all problems globally while Europe smugly sits on it's collective well-manicured hands, 'Europe' must be made to see several facts. Namely that the US has neither the capacity or (increasingly) the wish to handle all of the world's woes. The US will tend to 'solve' a subset of problems which either irritate us greatly or which we see as in our national interests. Many problems will either go unsolved by the US or be 'solved' in a manner which displeases people in Europe greatly (or at least more so than they displease people in the US). Till now Europe has largely confined itself to snarking on the sidelines or trying to impose policy on 'active' countries like the US, UK, and others. This has not worked for either the US or 'inactive' Europe, I think. The US gets a lot of argument and general moaning and criticism but little assistance. Central Europe doesn't get much of anything other than perhaps moral satisfaction. It's influence with the US is visibly declining. Perhaps more visibly under Obama than Bush, despite high hopes for amity and cooperation. Joerg and the other 'analysts' seems to see that it's not in Europe's interests to sit on the sideline and kvetch that the US ought to be acting under Europe's orders and to Europe's (sole?) advantage. It's not going to happen. Europe must participate in some form. Doesn't absolutely have to be in cooperation with the US in some of our endeavors - it can be in other areas. But leaving all the hard work for the US and the UK is also not going to work - they won't do it. But if dozy old Europe is going to be persuaded to stir itself it has to be for European reasons, and the stirring has to be done by Europeans like Joerg.

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