IT’S THE SAME OLD STORY: International accords routinely flouted, commitments repeatedly broken, rampant deception and an utter disregard for the rule of law.
No, not Iraq—Europe.
Not all of Europe, of course, just what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has aptly called "Old Europe," led by the chief continental cheerleaders for appeasement, France and Germany. These two erstwhile world powers have little to show for their former greatness other than decaying economies, dwindling populations, and one last gasp of relevance.
The rest of Europe is, for the most part, not so dismal. Eighteen other European nations have lined up behind America’s War on Terror and its next likely phase, the liberation of Iraq. These are the nations that realize that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime won’t melt away under the lukewarm spotlight of UN inspection teams. They are not so blinded by anachronistic ideologies or dishonorable business arrangements to resist getting on the right side of history.
The Old Euros, though, are playing cat and mouse with the rest of the world as surely as is Hussein. They have little interest in disarming, let alone deposing the Iraqi menace. Their only interest is in perpetuating Hussein’s farce.
The Old Euros supported the Gulf War in 1991, the cessation of which carried certain preconditions on the part of Hussein’s government, chief among them dismantling all weapons of mass destruction. For 12 years, Hussein has defied that responsibility, which, in turn, should render the 1991 Gulf War ceasefire null and void—and open the door to the resumption of hostilities.
That alone should bind Old European support for a regime change in Iraq. So should the 13 subsequent UN resolutions that Iraq defied over the next eight years. Then, of course, there’s Resolution 1441, which the UN Security Council (including France) backed unanimously last November, the one calling for Iraq to face "serious consequences" should it remain in "material breach" of international law.
Two months later, no one seriously denies that a material breach continues. So what "serious consequences" does Old Europe demand? More time and more weapons inspectors, presumably because there’s more sport in seeing 300 experts made to look like fools than merely 108.
Every "last chance" that Old Europe has agreed to give the Iraqi regime, every promise it has made to the rest of the world to start behaving responsibly, has proven to be little more than a cheap delay tactic worthy of Hussein himself. For Old Europe, each new piece of evidence documenting Iraq’s unabashed noncompliance is merely another opportunity for denial, another chance to play stupid.
How delighted Hussein must be to have such easily duped, so wantonly craven leaders to exploit for his advantage. Every day Old Europe continues in its tireless mewing is another day he retains his power, another day to continue amassing his stockpile, another day closer to the hot summer months when an allied invasion of Iraq would be exponentially more difficult.
The Old Euros and fellow members of the Axis of Appeasement fall for Hussein’s each and every gambit. He invites weapons inspectors to Baghdad—signs of cooperation! The inspectors leave empty-handed, save for a few nominal concessions—we’re making progress! Iraq agrees to allow U-2 reconnaissance missions over its airspace (a concession due two months ago, and a dubious one at that)—see, Saddam’s coming around!
He manipulates them with such ease. The Old Euros show greater fidelity to a faithless Saddam than to their own NATO allies. It’s as though they derive some cheap thrill from being used, mocked and cuckolded.
They call for smoking guns even as one smoldering weapon after another passes beneath their noses. The January 27 UNMOVIC and IAEA reports weren’t enough. Nor was Powell’s UN presentation.
ABC News now carries the story of a defected Iraqi scientist who reports that his former colleagues and their family members face death if they cooperate with international weapons inspectors. Some have been detained in secret locations. At least one has been killed as an example. The Old Euros remain unconvinced.
Then there’s "Dr. Germ," Rihab Taha, who once ran Hussein’s biological-weapons program and who refuses to meet with UN inspectors, but who recently consented to a BBC interview. "It is a human right, that if you don’t want to speak to anyone, no one will oblige you," says Taha, oblivious that in her country, there’s no such thing as human rights. As for Iraq’s development of biological weapons? "It is our right to have a capability to defend ourselves and to have something as a deterrent."
Even that smoking gun seems to have eluded the Old Euros’ attention.
Facts be damned. The Old Euros have nothing but confidence in Hussein’s benevolent intentions, and nothing but mistrust for President Bush and the United States, the nation that single-handedly spared them from a century of totalitarian rule.
We should pity them, actually. The Old Euros never got over their love affair with socialism. Their long-term dalliance with all things Engels and Marx leaves them with an unshakeable contempt for America that drives them into unseemly kinships with the likes of Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
Truly pathetic. The only upside is the likelihood that the Old Europe’s obstruction will end, and its political maturity will kick in, eventually. When Bush finishes off Iraq’s cat-and-mouse game, he will finish off Old Europe’s, too—either because Saddam’s sycophants will relent at the last minute, or because they will have made themselves irrelevant once and for all.