Politics Profanes a Noble War. (Devil in the Details)

The American Prospect, October 21, 2002 | Go to article overview

Politics Profanes a Noble War. (Devil in the Details)


THERE'S A NEW ADDITION to the American right's Gallery of Deeply Evil (and Really Annoying) People. Alongside Tom Daschle, John Sweeney, Bill Lerach, Howell Raines, Gloria Steinem, Martin Sheen, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Janet Reno (she couldn't even win the goddamn primary), the Clintons, Rosie O'Donnell and Cornel West, a place of dishonor has been prepared for German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. The Socials Democrats' leader not only had the gall to stop Europe's rightward tide by leading his alliance to a narrow victory in the September 22 elections, he won by campaigning against our pending war with Iraq.

The right and center-right have had several lines of attack against Schroder. One, delivered in nuanced form in a recent Washington Post editorial, is that Schroder--who brought Germany into the community of enlightened internationalism when he dispatched troops to Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan--has now undone all his good work by condemning the coming Iraqi conflict. And sure enough, if you believe all interventions are created equal, Schroder's deviation on Iraq is opportunism of the worst kind. Schroder, of course, protests that the Iraqi invasion undercuts the war on terror and the rule of international law; but in so doing, he merely associates himself with some of the aforementioned Deeply Evil (and Really Annoying) American liberals.

But it's Schroder's purported opportunism that has raised the real rancor on the right. To the Post, Schroder appeared "prepared to trample some of the most important principles of his government in order to pander to Germany's left-wing voters." Or, in the words of Fox News' somewhat less delicate Bill O'Reilly, "Schroder is putting his political career ahead of doing the right thing."

Imagine! Exploiting the coming war with Iraq for domestic political purposes!

Don't tell Karl Rove about this. He might get ideas.

War Swapping

IT'S HARD TO KEEP TRACK of all the maneuverings of national governments as they determine their positions on the coming war with Iraq, but we frankly confess an awed admiration for the let's-make-a-deal approach of Vladimir Putin's Russians. Just after our government started angling after their backing for our preemptive war on Iraq, they offered to swap their support in return for our support for their very own preemptive war on Georgia, which they allege has been aiding Chechen rebels (or, as they call them, "terrorists"). As events would have it, the last Bush administration had particularly close ties to the Georgian government and its then- and current president, Edward Shevardnadze. The current President Bush, on the other hand, is an avowed buddy of Russian President Putin, who has sworn to destroy the Chechen forces much as W. …

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