Jewish World Review March 24, 2003 / 20 Adar II, 5763

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Delusional Chirac may be a thorn in coalition's side, but new alliances are forming in response to 21st-Century threats without him and UN | The campaign to disarm Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power has been enormously successful to this point. The decisiveness of President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the effectiveness of the coalition's military forces have reinforced public support here at home for the war effort. It's also resulted in a change of tone abroad. Reservations have turned to resolve, with at least 45 countries now comprising the coalition.

Of course, France is not part of that coalition. French President Jacques Chirac, who pitifully views himself as a figure of historical importance, further exposed his delusions last week - as if that were necessary. Even as coalition forces were sustaining their first casualties during the effort to liberate Iraq from Chirac's friend Saddam, the French president had the temerity to publicly call for a French role in the reconstruction of a free Iraq.

Of course, Chirac laid out his entreaty in his best Gaullist arrogance by saying he would not accept a U.N. resolution that would give the United States and Britain the power to administer postwar Iraq. Apparently France's principle poseur doesn't realize that neither the United States nor Britain nor any other member of the coalition to free Iraq has said that a Security Council resolution would be sought to administer post-Saddam Iraq.

I, for one, hope that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have had enough of Chirac and the U.N. and its false claims of being a reasonable forum for international cooperation, and seek nothing from it.

In fact, we are now seeing a significant shift in geopolitical positions and balances. The United Nations and NATO have demonstrated that they no longer reflect the collective values, commitments and priorities of the United States and much of the world.

Instead, new alliances are forming in response to 21st-century threats. Pakistan and India have become our allies in the war against terror. And, as opposed to his stance during the Gulf War, this time around Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is not standing squarely with Saddam Hussein. In fact, Arafat is now sharing power with a moderate, Mahmoud Abbas - a move that is considered a positive step toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock. In another positive step, President Bush recently offered a road map to a liberated Palestine.

At the same time, the coalition countries - England, Australia, Japan, Spain, Portugal and others - are poised to become even more economically important to the United States. As Subodh Kumar, chief U.S. investment strategist at CIBC World Markets, says, "The relative importance of Spain and Italy in particular relative to Germany and France within Europe has got to improve, whether it's because of closer ties to the United States or because of closer economic opportunities in the Middle East or elsewhere."

But while considerable progress is being made geopolitically, considerable challenges remain here at home, especially the challenges facing our economy. William McDonough, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, last week warned that the economy faces obstacles other than the tensions over Iraq.

"Once concern I have is that recovery in the business sector continues to be restrained not just by geopolitical uncertainty and the need for further restructuring in some key sectors, but by caution on the part of investors and lenders," said McDonough. "They continue to doubt the quality of internal governance and external oversight, as well as the reliability of the information corporations provide - in short, critical issues of investor and lender confidence."

That confidence, however, should rise considerably as the coalition and the United States continue to show progress in the war against Saddam Hussein and global terror.

As the United States continues to demonstrate its commitment to making the world a safer place, the relationship between our national security and economic security will become even more obvious - perhaps even to Mr. Chirac.

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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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