Thursday, May 01, 2003

Oceania Has Always Been At War with Eastasia

One of the odder aspect of the whole Iraq mess is the France (and general Europe) bashing that the right wing is throwing around. Yeah, France, Germany, and Russia didn't give us everything we asked for in the UN. So? Ce la vie. The Administration has played this as the Big Three being Eeeeevil; this plays well in our lapdog media, but has been disastrous everywhere outside the US. Looks to me like the most howlingly incompetent piece of diplomacy I can recall. Basically, Georgie Bush ended up losing a worldwide popularity contest to Saddam Hussein, of all people. And nobody likes Saddam.

So we have "cheese eating surrender monkeys". "Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion", and all those other cute little phrases that might have been funny the first time we heard them.

What's going on here? Georgie Bush has shown that he's capable of stopping hate campaigns. One of the few good things he's done in the post 9/11 world is to emphasize, early on, that this war is against terrorism in general and al Qaeda in particular, and not against Islam or Muslims. The France-bashing is getting out of control, with vandalism against people and businesses perceived as being "French".

One oddity -- there is a chain of "French" cafeterias called "La Madeleine" that would seem to be an obvious target, but I haven't heard of any nastiness at all toward them. Couldn't possibly be that their corporate offices are in Texas ....

One result of this is that we are weakening NATO quite seriously. (Whether this is good or bad is another question. NATO was designed as defense against the Soviet Union, after all.) We need to think about this. Let's say that NATO breaks up and the Europeans form their own alliance. Without NATO, there's no reason for the US to have military bases in Europe at all. I don't know the leasing arrangements that we have -- if we have lease arangements for our bases in Europe like we do for Guantanamo, then we could be there for a long time, but the host countries could make things pretty miserable for us. (Food. Water. Power. Local Labor.)

So we have a military alliance among the "continental" powers. France. Germany. Russia. Perhaps also Italy and Spain (their governments are in a lot of trouble for "supporting" us in Iraq. ("Supporting" is in quotes because they didn't supply troops, money, or UN resolutions.) Since they can't rely on US support or weapons, they will have to build up their own military. One thing that seems to get lost in the jingoistic American discussions of military capabilities is that the European arms industry is quite advanced, and capable of a lot of quick improvement if it became a priority.

Another thing to keep in mind is that everybody in the world was watching what happened in Iraq. We put a lot of our toys on display, and they showed some serious weaknesses:

  • It takes us at least six months to get enough force in position to move against even the weakest opponent.
  • The Apache helicopter is so vulnerable to ground fire that it is useless unless protected by other aircraft.
  • A10 "Warthogs" are vulnerable to shoulder-launched missiles
  • The M1A1 tank is a lot more vulnerable than advertised. I saw reports that several were knocked out by well-placed RPGs. If this is true, and not just misinfornmation from incompetent reporters, this represents a serious weakness.
  • US troops are lousy at police work (Duh!)

So we've showed off all our toys and put Europe on notice that we don't care squat about their interests. We're pushing France, Germany, and Russia toward a military alliance that would be independent of US supplies. Then there's this whole "global economy" thing. Europe's economy is considerably bigger than ours. Nukes? France and Russia have 'em too, and they have subs.

Oh, well. We become the World's Only Superpower, and what do we do? Try to convince our old allies that they should become another superpower. What's next? Give Japan nuclear weapons?

Time for lunch. I think I'll have a croissant.

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