Haggai's Place

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Your humble narrator is...
...a research analyst at a think tank in the Washington DC area. Born in Israel, raised in Kentucky, movie fanatic and sports nut.
My first-hand account of the Palestinian divestment conference at the U. of Michigan
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:: Saturday, July 26, 2003 ::

What they're probably thinking
So why aren't more countries from around the world lining up to help in Iraq? The roughly 11-1 ratio of US to non-US troops on the ground doesn't exactly match up with pre-war predictions on the right, where numerous other countries would do a 180 after the war and rush to help out with the re-construction in order to gain influence in Iraq (too lazy at the moment to dig up any such predictions). What might be on the minds of all the governments who could be helping us more than they are now? Let's see what the US is effectively asking of them:

-- You know the war that was opposed by huge majorities of your electorates, more than 2/3 of them in most countries? We'd like you to commit major resources to help us sort out the consqeuences of that policy.

-- We want you to send us your troops, but not with anything more than minimal involvement from NATO and the UN. Everyone on the ground in Iraq will answer to us, and that ultimately means Rumsfeld, Bush, etc.--the very people who implemented the policy that most of your voting public strenuously opposed.

-- Did we mention that since the war ended, we're losing about 3 or 4 soldiers every week to violent resistance?

Those treacherous Europeans must want America to fail in Iraq! They don't value freedom like we do! Why else would they leave it all up to us?

This is why international institutions are important. Politically speaking, it's not feasible, or sustainable, for most governments to give anything more than a token gesture of assistance to an unpopular foreign commitment that they have no influence over, even if they agreed with the policy to begin with (as most European governments did vis-a-vis the war). The collective approach so scorned by conservatives is what various American governments had in mind when they founded the post-WWII institutions like the UN and NATO. FDR and his advisers weren't thinking, "You know, what the world needs now is a body where the US will have to go to ask for everyone else's permission before committing to any major international undertaking." Harry Truman and Dean Acheson didn't establish NATO because they wanted European countries to determine where the US can or can't bomb, the reason that the Bush administration had for rejecting a NATO command structure for the Afghan war. The point now (as it largely was back then) is to encourage co-operation by spreading out the responsibilities. There'll always be plenty to criticize about institutions and alliances, particularly the UN with Libya heading the Human Rights Commission. But if we refuse to let anyone else have even a hint of influence over us when even a slight disagreement arises, how can we expect to influence them when a major difference comes up?
1:03 PM
:: Monday, July 21, 2003 ::
Back in a few days
I'm in Utah for a conference now, so there won't be much new here until Saturday or Sunday.
12:42 PM

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