Jewish World Review Nov. 10, 2004 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan 5765
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
Friend and foe
Throughout history, troops like those brave Americans currently liberating Fallujah have demanded the identity of people approaching their lines with the challenge "Who goes there: Friend or foe?" In the case of Tony Blair, the British prime minister whose esteemed stature in the Bush White House has been recognized by an invitation to be the first foreign leader to congratulate the President on his reelection in person, the answer might be "Both."
To be sure, Mr. Blair has amply demonstrated his friendship with America and its leader by his stalwart performance to date on Iraq. In the face of withering criticism at home, most especially within his own Labor Party, the PM has proven a worthy successor to Margaret Thatcher, the famed Iron Lady of 10 Downing Street.
It would be a mistake, however, to permit our gratitude for such solidarity and our admiration for Mr. Blair's pluck to obscure the necessary clear-eyed assessment of certain of his other policy proclivities that are, if not actually hostile, then at least contrary to U.S. interests and ill-advised. Three items on (or behind) Mr. Blair's agenda during this week's state visit illustrate his other aspect, a side of the man of which Mr. Bush should be wary:
"Solving" the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: For some time, Mr. Blair has insisted that, as he put it last week, this issue is "the single most pressing political challenge in our world today." He has for months tried to parlay his high standing with George W. Bush into something the President understands quite well: political capital. The idea has been to expend it in such a way as to make U.S. policy track with that of the other notoriously anti-Israel members of the so-called "Quartet" the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.
While Mr. Blair bided his time during the U.S. election crunch, he comes to Washington intent on cashing in. He will try to euchre Mr. Bush into agreeing to compel Israel to make sweeping territorial and other concessions to the Palestinians, without regard for the real and abiding danger posed to democracy's only real and reliable outpost in the Middle East. Such concessions have been met in the past with greater violence, born of the inevitable conclusion that the more terrorism is waged against Israel, the more Israel will be forced to accept the terrorists' demands. The fact that this strategy has not worked in the past and is wholly incompatible with the Bush-Blair policy approach in Iraq seems not to trouble the Prime Minister. It cannot be ignored by the President.
"Containing" Iran: The Prime Minister will also be seeking Mr. Bush's support for the latest in a series of unsavory diplomatic efforts undertaken by Britain, France and Germany and aimed at preventing Islamist Iran from realizing its ill-concealed nuclear weapons ambitions. The Associated Press reported on Monday that "a major breakthrough" was achieved in negotiations last weekend resulting in "a preliminary agreement at the expert level."
Unfortunately, it is absolutely predictable that this "breakthrough" which Iran's chief negotiator said would, if approved by his government and its European interlocutors, result in "an important change in Iran's relations with Europe and much of the international community in the not-too-distant future" will go the way of previous efforts to appease Tehran: In due course, it will be supplanted by fresh evidence that Iran continues to acquire nuclear weapons-related technology and capabilities. The United States has no interest in endorsing what amounts to political cover and protection for the further covert pursuit of such activities. Mr. Blair must be firmly if cordially told "Thanks, but no thanks."
"United States of Europe": One item that Mr. Blair may just as soon have go unremarked, but that should be taken up by Mr. Bush nonetheless is the damage the Prime Minister is doing to the Anglo-American "special relationship" by signing onto a European Constitution largely dictated by the French and Germans. Although John Kerry and his ilk would have us believe the recent Franco-German animus over Iraq was a product of President Bush's diplomatic shortcomings in the run-up to the war, actually something far bigger was at work bigger even than the bribes Saddam paid his French and German friends through the Oil-for-Food scam.
France's Jacques Chirac and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder make no secret of their determination to build a united Europe that will be at least diplomatically and economically a rival to American power and an insurmountable obstacle to its exercise. This goal animates the policies Paris and Berlin are applying in every arena and the French and Germans seek through an appalling new constitution to create institutions, bureaucracies and assorted policy mechanisms to assure conformity on the part of Britain and the heretofore pro-American "New Europeans" recently added to the EU.
The European Constitution is neither in America's interest nor that of a sovereign and independent Great Britain the nation that has for so long proven to be an important and valued friend to this country. The fact that Tony Blair has been obliged to submit the document to a referendum offers hope that his people will repudiate it and, in so doing, improve the chances that this relationship will remain special, indeed and an especially necessary bulwark against the sorts of evils that will arise were we foolishly to sacrifice Israel to, among others, a nuclear-armed Iran.
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JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
© 2004, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.