The Phony War — what Tony Blair derided
yesterday at the Azores meeting as "perpetual negotiation" —
is at last ending. In the somber days before action begins, we
can ask: How should the U.S. deal with those nations that made
the Security Council irrelevant?
Neither with anger nor with petulance. Forget about our
sacrifices in freeing France, Germany and Russia from
Hitlerism and Stalinism; remembrance has no place in their
diplomacy. Set aside personal economic retaliation: no
switching from French to Spanish wine, from Russian to Polish
vodka, from German to Italian designers.
Instead, President Bush should reward those countries whose
leaders stand with us in stopping the spread of 21st-century
terror. Example: move our 70,000 troops and their families
from garrisons in pacifist Germany to more strategic, less
expensive deployments in Bulgaria and Poland.
Our response to the quagmire of the U.N. Security Council
should be to stop pretending it is a vehicle for collective
security or moral authority. Presidents Chirac and Putin, who
supported Saddam's refusal to disarm for a decade, delivered
the coup de grâce to that dreamy notion. However, we should
continue charitable contributions to the U.N.'s humanitarian
establishment, useful in postwar reconstruction.
NATO? Because France has long been half-out, America is in
the Western alliance's strong majority. We should urge the
move of its headquarters from unstable Brussels to
new-Europe's Budapest. If Chirac carries out his threat to
veto the entry of our East European allies into the European
Union, we should object to any further military or economic
integration with Putin's Russia.
That brings us to Turkey, whose turnabout has been the
unkindest cut of all. Only weeks ago, we prevailed on NATO
partners (with France outside the military committee) to
supply the Turks with Patriot missiles and chemical defenses
in case Saddam lashed out at them. Now not only has Turkey's
new government refused to quicken victory and save lives in
Iraq by renting us a base to launch a northern front, but it
is the only NATO member to deny our aircraft overflight
This really puts to the test a policy of no retaliation to
non-allies. Turkey is a democratic Muslim country, although
its tradition of secularism may be eroding under its new
leader. Americans have to respect the decision of a freely
elected government, wrongheaded, costly and ultimately
self-damaging though it is.
Therefore, as Turkey presses its case for admission to the
European Union to its newfound friends in France and Germany,
we should say nothing. And we should base our judgment on
loans to financially distressed Turkey from the International
Monetary Fund on pure economic merit. Neither punitive nor
supportive, Bush should treat the Turks' requests as
deliberately as they have treated ours.
It is no retaliation for us to provide arms to the free
Kurdish forces in northern Iraq to fight Saddam, ending our
foolish policy of demurring to Turkish paranoia about such
help leading to an independent Kurdistan.
President Bush noted that yesterday was the 15th
anniversary of Saddam's poison-gas massacre of Kurds in
Halabja. Today, almost one million Kurds live in Baghdad. If
Saddam persuades his diehard special Republican Guard to put
up a bloody battle in its streets, the allied coalition should
be able to make it possible for the Kurds, some of the
fiercest fighters in the region, to bear modern arms in the
cause of Iraq's liberation.
Finally, how should Bush respond to the advocates of
inaction in the U.S.?
Very respectfully. Because the phony war has dragged on so
long, protest paraders and the Kennedy-Pelosi left have gained
momentum. "Why America Scares the World" is the cover line in
the current Newsweek, with readers thrilling to its theme,
"the Arrogant Empire." The way for Bush to answer such
legitimate disagreement is to get on with winning the war and
to help Iraqis create a dictator-free confederation.
As the U.S. does that, dissent will decline. Tragic
mistakes will be revealed, but most of the embedded media will
focus on heroes. Smoking guns and hiding terrorists will be
found. European non-allies and Arab potentates will find ways
to forgive us and our new alliances will be rewarded with
security. And American voters next year will remember who
offered fear and who offered hope.