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1/31/2003 01:54:00 AM | Brad Plumer

re: Here comes the coalition

Well, were these leaders elected or not? Chirac is a rightwinger too, does that invalidate his opinion? And what about Havel? Is he just gunning for aid? Is it possible, perhaps, that he remembers how the US stood up to the USSR and won? During an era when France told NATO to get bent? Hm. It seems fashionable nowadays to call Bush supreme dictator and the like. Havel, Miller and Medgyessy don't seem to agree, possibly because they've seen what a real dictatorship looks like. I mean, yes, nothing would make me happier than Ashcroft falling down a flight of stars, and I will oppose until I die the various infringements on civil liberties since 9/11. But as Tim pointed out, we still live in a stable democracy, as do the Italians, Spanish, Portuguese, etc. etc. They're being led by elected leaders whose opinion, in my books, counts for quite a bit.

At the very least, I fail to see how these leaders' opinions hold less weight than America's opponents. Look at who Bush is up against... France? France?!?! A country that can't get enough of Robert Mugabe? A country pursuing a dangerous unilateral intervention in the Ivory Coast? A country that was terrified of standing up to Milosevic? Or how about China? Honestly, from a moral standpoint, who cares what they think? I don't understand why certain countries can be dismissed because they have rightwing governments (again, aren't these governments elected?), while countries like Syria and China are invoked as proof of Bush's failure to gain international support.

(Oh yeah, as a sidenote, Jared, I wouldn't list Canada and Japan as opponents. In the polls I've seen, most Canadians support the US, and it seems like Chretien may side with the US, Security council or not. As for Japan, well, Koizumi has wavered thus far. Then again, the next actual decision Koizumi makes will be his first. Most of his opponents in the Diet are pushing for a strong stance against Iraq, and odds are Japan will join up with the US. Oh yes, not to mention Australia).

I feel sort of strange arguing all this, since I don't support this war, I think it's a terrible idea, etc. etc. (And btw Mr. Hendler, I think your posters around campus have done an excellent job arguing towards this end.) But I think it's an important point, because it seems to me that Bush has done what he said and assembled his international coalition. If this isn't multilateralism than I don't know what is. I think this could turn into an interesting debate on what the nature of multilateral action should be, and what shape it should take in the future--ie: what sort of coalition, with what sorts of countries, makes an action multilateral? Is the Security Council approach really the best method? Alas, I'm too tired right now to press this any further.



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