Beyond the Drumbeat: Iraq, Preventive War, 'Old Europe'

By Mayer, Arno J. | Monthly Review, March 2003 | Go to article overview

Beyond the Drumbeat: Iraq, Preventive War, 'Old Europe'


Mayer, Arno J., Monthly Review


The letter of support, signed by the leaders of eight European countries last January, for the Bush administration's inexorable push for war with Iraq was both singularly ideological and shortsighted. The list of values that the signatories claim to share with the United States is altogether unexceptionable: "democracy, individual freedom, human rights, and the rule of law." But there is a crying omission: free-market capitalism. This omission is all the more striking since there is no fathoming the infamous terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 without bearing in mind that its main target was the World Trade Center, a prominent symbol and hub of globalizing capitalism.

It is no less striking that the signatories should still, at this late date, embrace the hallowed but highly debatable Cold War interpretation of the presumably indispensable place of the United States in the recent history of Europe: "Thanks in large part to American bravery, generosity, and farsightedness, Europe was set free from the two forms of tyranny that devastated our continent in the 20th century: Nazism and Communism." The facts are that in both world wars Washington was an ally of last resort. in 1914-1918, as in 1941-1945, Europe's blood sacrifice was immeasurably greater and more punishing than America's. To be sure, the Allies might not have won the day without Uncle Sam's intervention; perhaps one should recall that Washington's contribution was primarily material, financial, and ideological.

Certainly during the Second World War the Red Army contributed infinitely more "blood, sweat, and tears" than the U.S. military to turning the tide of battle against the Axis powers in Europe. Had the Red Army not broken the back of the Wehrmacht in 1942-1943, more than likely the American-led landings in Normandy in June 1944 would have turned into a tragic bloodbath. Moreover, during that war, unlike the European and Soviet noncombatants who died in the millions, the United States civilian deaths were infinitesimal by comparison. This anomaly largely explains the avenging furor of Americans in the wake of September 11, which ended the self-perceived innocence of U.S. exceptionalism. Protected, as always, by two oceans, the United States means to keep its own casualties to an absolute minimum. It may even be said to be looking for, perhaps demanding or even buying, cannon fodder (and sinews of war and occupation) among both the cautious governments that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has labeled "old Eur ope" and the mainly eastern European countries we might call the "new-old Europe."

Inasmuch as the eight signatories implicitly subscribe to the Bush administration's loudly trumpeted and not so novel doctrine of preemptive or preventive war, they ought to remember that the logic of preventive war played a central role at two crucial turning points of the Thirty Years' War of the twentieth century: in July-August 1914, Kaiser William II and his advisors precipitated war to forestall the balance of military power turning to the advantage of the Entente in 1917, when Tsarist Russia was expected to complete the modernization and preparedness of its armed forces; in the spring of 1941, Hitler rushed into war against the Soviet Union to avoid having to face Stalin in the spring of 1942, when the Red Army was expected to complete its modernization and preparedness. Since this history is as well known to the "new-old" Europeans--seeking to demonstrate fealty to their new American friends--as it is to the cautious schismatics of the "old," both Europes might wish to remind their Washington colleag ues that the logic of preventive war also significantly informed the preparation and timing of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. And they might want to remind Bush and his strategists that all three meticulously planned preventive wars had enormous unintended consequences: Verdun, Stalingrad, Auschwitz, Dresden, Hiroshima.

It is a truism that the United Nations Security Council, to "maintain its credibility" must "ensure full compliance with its resolutions.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Beyond the Drumbeat: Iraq, Preventive War, 'Old Europe'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.