Voices of the Street

Article excerpt

Even before the crucial February 14 meeting of the Security Council (after this issue went to press), a significant milestone was reached in the form of the proposal by France, Germany and Russia--later joined by China--to strengthen UN inspections in Iraq, and the opposition of France, Germany and Belgium to NATO war aid to Turkey. These diplomatic setbacks to the US war timetable drew cries of outrage from the Administration and its supporters in the media. Instead of discussing France's proposal reasonably, Secretary of State Powell dismissed it as unleashing a bunch of Inspector Clouseaus. Such is the level of debate by US officials and their apologists. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld lumped Germany with Cuba and Libya, and his sidekick Richard Perle proclaimed the United States must have a strategy to "contain" France, "our erstwhile ally." The New York Times's Thomas Friedman sneered, "France is so caught up with its need to differentiate itself from America to feel important, it's become silly." Now members of Congress are yelling for trade sanctions against French products and reduction of US forces in Germany.

Far from wanting to "contain" France, many Americans applauded its proposals and found that its president spoke for them better than their own. Even before the antiwar rallies on February 15-16, it was clear that there was tremendous European support for the French and German position, including in Italy and Spain, whose governments are pro-US. With a recent poll showing 57 percent of Americans favoring an attack on Iraq, there is a desperate need here for a broad-based peace movement--one that avoids acts of petty sectarianism like the exclusion of Rabbi Michael Lerner from speaking at a San Francisco rally. …