Tim Blair


New Criterion



Saturday, April 12, 2003
ONE OF THE MOST ENJOYABLE of the gloat blogs is Andrew Sullivan's collection of foolish statements exposed in short order by the relentless passage of three weeks.

Included is this priceless number from der Spiegel:

Gruesome days for the German foreign minister: Every morning at nine, his staff briefs him on the situation in Iraq in the ministry's underground situation room. His worst fears are coming true: The US military appears to be stuck in its tracks in the desert, and civilian casualties are multiplying. It has never been so painful to have been in the right, murmurs the foreign minister, with a worried look on his face.

It's not a satire.

If you read on through the Spiegel article you come to some choice examples of truly ga-ga politics.

Schröder's last conversation with the White House was on November 8th. Even during the first hours of war, the German chancellor was kept completely in the dark by American government authorities. Like millions of other citizens, he too was forced to view the images of war on television in the early morning hours - a political humiliation.

What to do? First, define the problem.

For the first time, Schröder and Fischer, whose previous actions were generally spontaneous, have taken the bold step of formulating policy that extends into the future.

Joe Fischer might be better at that than trying to predict the future. He's good at making policy for the past, but.

Outlines of the new course developing in the dialogue with Paris are already evident: In the wake of the US' solo move, the United Nations are to be restored to the key position in world politics.

This is the old hair-of-the-dog approach. German policy will be to support France in using the sole means it has left to pretend it is a first rank power able to countervail the Americans - the French Security Council veto. You certainly can't call that a suck-up to the Yanks.

Not if you listen to what Chirac says: "France will accept no resolution that amounts to giving the Americans and the British, who are waging the war, administrative power over Iraq." Whatever it costs the Iraqi people.

This is Chirac's second front. Coming in behind Syria and Iran, making it a fourth front.

As for the Germans, Fischer thinks Europe should have a credible military force. But first Germany has to build one.

Not if that means reforming welfare spending, snaps his Green Party president, Angelika Beer.

All this adds up to "a Tour de France approach", according to one of Fischer's advisers. "Always make sure you lag just a little behind."

Behind France, Syria and Iran, that is.

Rumsfeld was wrong to call these fellows "old Europe". They're senile.