Jewish World Review Feb. 27, 2003 / 25 Adar I, 5763

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Guns, butter and greasing the way | The price of war is rising dramatically and quickly. This week, the Turks reportedly asked for as much as $32 billion from us for the privilege of putting our troops and aircraft on their soil. Talk about inflation. The entire 1991 Gulf War cost only $57 billion. And our allies footed most of that bill. Now, only 12 years later, we, the British and a handful of other countries are still saving the world but being forced to spend lavishly for the privilege.

That's modern multilateralism for you.

This week, the Bush Administration not only had to contend with the hard-bargaining Islamist Turk government fearful of Iraqi reprisals should war break out, but also with France, Germany and Belgium who vehemently have opposed NATO's defense of Turkey.

The axis of appeasement had been only anti-American, but now it has apparently become anti-Turk as well. No one should be surprised that the French and Germans would reflexively turn their backs on their NATO obligations to the Turks. After all, they first demonstrated that they're indifferent to their U.N. obligations under Resolution 1441.

They prance around the world stage, or at least the burlesque of the United Nations, trying to mask their appeasement in the cloak of peaceful constraint. French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder are sad fellows, blustering in their opposition to the United States and all the while hoping no one will notice their utter dependency upon us as they rant against American arrogance.

France and Germany are less allies now than trading partners, and they rely upon our economic and military might to protect them and the world. The United States pays the biggest defense bills in NATO. In fact, we pay more than all the other NATO countries combined.

As if we needed further demonstration of their dependency, our trade deficit has reached a record $435 billion. Last year, we bought $9 billion more in goods and services from France than France bought from us. We imported $35 billion more from Germany than Germany imported from us. And we bought $103 billion more from China than China bought from us.

"We're the locomotive for the world's economy," says Maury Harris, chief North American economist at UBS Warburg. "The world is more dependent on us for business than any other country. So we're the global economy's best customer."

There's a lot of talk on Capitol Hill and around the country about boycotting French and German goods. I don't think that's the answer, but I do think it's time to put those who are working against us on notice that we won't be taken for granted, either economically or militarily, any longer. To do less, it seems to me, would be arrogant.

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Lou Dobbs is the anchor and managing editor of CNN's "Lou Dobbs Moneyline." Comment by clicking here.

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