Architects of Delusion: Europe, America, and the Iraq War

Architects of Delusion: Europe, America, and the Iraq War

Architects of Delusion: Europe, America, and the Iraq War

Architects of Delusion: Europe, America, and the Iraq War


The commencement of war in Iraq in 2003 was met with a variety of reactions around the globe. In Architects of Delusion, Simon Serfaty presents a historical analysis of how and why the decision to wage war was endorsed by some of America's main European allies, especially Britain, and opposed by others, especially France and Germany.

Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Jacques Chirac, and Gerhard Schroeder were, Serfaty argues, the architects of one of the most serious crises in postwar transatlantic relations. These four heads of state were the victims not only of their personal delusions but also of those of the nations they led. They all played the hand that their countries had dealt them--the forceful hand of a righteous America, the principled acquiescence of a faithful Britain, the determined intransigence of a quarrelsome France, and the ambiguous "new way" of a recast Germany.

Serfaty's deft interweaving of the political histories and cultures of the four countries and the personalities of their leaders transcends the Europe-bashing debate sparked by the Iraq invasion. He contends that not one of these four leaders was entirely right or entirely wrong in his approach to the others or to the issues, before and during the war. For the resulting wounds to heal, though, and for the continuity of transatlantic relations, he reminds us that the United States and France must end their estrangement, France and Britain must resolve their differences, Germany must carry its weight relative to both France and Britain, and the United States must exert the same visionary leadership for the twenty-first century that it showed during its rise to preeminence in the twentieth century.


The alleged facts of “power and weakness” that characterized the transatlantic debate over the use of force in Iraq were theoretically flawed and historically misleading. Theoretically, the “facts” of American power appeared to reduce the concept of power to its military dimension at the expense of, or over, anything that might expose U.S. weakness. Historically, the “facts” of European weakness neglected the postwar transformation of Europe into a union that gives its members the nonmilitary power they lack individually. All together, the argument conveyed a sense of lasting American omnipotence for what was no more than passing preponderance, while providing a caricature of Europe as an avid consumer of American capabilities and a demanding producer of additional security responsibilities for the United States.

A conversation that starts with a cursory “Me Tarzan, you Jane” is not conducive to a dialogue. Absent a dialogue, there is little room for consultation, and without consultation there is no alliance of sovereign countries but, at best, coalitions: one coalition per mission, one mission per coalition, organized by the preponderant power—the “sheriff” in the posse—with states that are willing to join for reasons of their own, even if they are not sufficiently capable for, or directly relevant to, the mission.

This book is not about America’s power and the weakness of its main European allies—Britain, France, and Germany—but about the power and the weaknesses of both, the United States in its prevailing condition of preponderance, and the states of Europe in their new but unfinished incarnation as a European Union (EU).

The facts of American power are not in doubt. At home, knowledge of these facts sharpened citizen anger at the horrific events of September 11, 2001, which could not be allowed to stand unanswered, and led most Americans to rebel against like-minded allies who grew unwilling to stand with . . .

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