Saturday, July 7, 2007

Europe Marches Meekly Behind Washington

Why Europe Marches Meekly Behind Washington on Hamas

A Good Piece
By Mark Perry

"Tony Karon: "A couple of days ago, I did a quick survey of some of my regular readers to canvas opinions on why it is that Europe, so obviously knowing better, has nonetheless wholly embraced the disastrous U.S. boycott of the democratically-elected Hamas government. I asked them to respond to the following: My most recent posting includes Alistair Crooke’s observations about how the Europeans are as culpable as the U.S. in the application of a hopelessly dysfunctional policy on Hamas after it won the Palestinian election. But the Europeans obviously ought to know better, and I’ve seen no good explanation for why this is the case — it’s easy to see how the Bush Administration has arrived here, but less so the Europeans: There’s no significant Israel lobby in Europe, is there? Are they simply compensating for the damage Iraq has done to the Transatlantic relationship? Or is this somehow a reflection of their own, domestic Islamo-phobia?....

Paul Woodward adds that Europe defaults to a “proxy consensus” of following the U.S. lead because the alternative requires a more drastic break with the U.S. “New governments in Europe have good reason to assume that the next administration in Washington will be just as biased towards Israel as is the current one, they have little interest in creating a rift that would extend well beyond 2008.”

Helena Cobban calls it “learned helplessness,” deriding “the chimera of ‘an independent European foreign polic.y’ ” The Europeans, she notes, “(1) can’t even get their own governance issues organized, (2) like to wallow in letting the U.S. make all the mistakes, (3) have been moving seriously rightward in recent years, and (4) have a lot of issues of their own regarding Muslims and Arabs.”

For my friend Tim McGirk, TIME’s correspondent in Jerusalem, the explanation is that “Europeans are especially sensitive to the charge of anti-Semitism.....

The most complete response, however, came from Mark Perry of Conflicts Forum, a longtime national security expert in Washington, whose most recent book, Partners in Command explores the relationship between Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and George C. Marshall in managing the U.S. war in Europe. Mark, together with his Conflicts Forum colleague Alastair Crooke, actually briefed the EU on the need to engage with Hamas following its election victory in January 2006, but their advice was rejected even though it was acknowledged they were right. I’m thrilled to welcome Mark as a Rootless Cosmopolitan contributor!....."

Mark Perry: ".....Fischer discarded his prepared comments and spoke bluntly, and in English. “Excuse me,” he said, “I am not convinced.” As Rumsfeld sat, silent, Fischer even wagged his finger. It was the first time in anyone’s memory that any European diplomat had dared lecture an American.

.....When my colleague, Alastair Crooke and I, made a presentation to EU Ambassadors in Brussels on Hamas in the wake of their victory in the parliamentary elections of January of 2006, the Rumsfeld-Fischer confrontation was still a vivid and painful memory. And it was for this reason that our argument for a European opening to Hamas — in defiance of U.S. pressure for an economic boycott of their democratically elected government — was universally spurned. “We know you are right, really we do” one ambassador said after our presentation. “But we will not break with the Americans. We just cannot do it.”

......The French, Germans and of course the U.K — but also Spain and Italy — have maintained the alliance and I have been given to think that it will be maintained even in the face of America’s continued foreign policy fumbles. And perhaps for good reason.....

In the end, the Europeans might well know the Americans are wrong (that a boycott of Hamas will not work, that the war in Iraq was a blood-filled waste, that a confrontation with Iran will lead to a military debacle, that Afghanistan is lost … ), indeed, might well be convinced that the American program cannot and will not succeed, ever, anywhere. They might know it now and might someday in the future say that they told us so. Even so, the nations of Europe, that grand alliance, will never splinter, as it nearly did in February of 2003. For Europe ’s calculation is quite like Churchill’s: they would rather be wrong with us, than right alone.""

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