Jewish World Review April 14, 2002/ 12 Nisan, 5763
It's better to be rich than sick
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | LONDON Success is supposed to have many fathers, but the brilliant Anglo-American military campaign in Iraq has spawned wicked stepmothers, too.
Not all the losers live under the rubble. The stepmothers can't believe their bad luck. They were so sure that George W. Bush was the ultimate boob, that his soft, green troops were no match for Saddam's mighty arms and that the war in Iraq would go badly wrong. Now here it was a spectacular success, and after only 21 days. But surely the flowers thrown at the U.S. Marines in the streets of Baghdad were only of plastic.
The virulent antiwar sentiment in Britain, which has bedeviled Tony Blair in a way that George W. can hardly fathom, has not been dissolved by success in the real world, and if this poses problems for Mr. Blair it's a caution for the American president, too. What follows now won't be nearly as easy as the seizure of Basra and Baghdad. Despite the extraordinary performance of British troops in Iraq, the public opinion polls reflect much smaller majorities of approval here than in the United States.
"Thirty years of brutality and lies were coming to a close - not decisively, not in full measure," the left-leaning Guardian conceded, grudgingly, on the day after the dramatic bronze Saddam came tumbling down in Baghdad's Paradise Square, "and not without deep fears for the future or resentment at this deliverance by a foreign army."
The notion that ordinary Iraqis preferred Saddam's bloody hobnailed boot on their throats to deliverance by American infidels seems as unlikely as the excuse famously offered by the man arrested for smoking in bed: "No sir, Your Honor, that bed was already on fire when I got into it."
The critics of the war here are grasping at the unlikeliest of excuses in the wake of the unalloyed battlefield success: the joyous welcoming crowds in the streets don't really mean it, the kisses are as fake as the flowers, triumph in Iraq will only enrage "the Arab street." Not only that, the Americans have to turn everything over to the United Nations, or else.
Jacques Chirac's stunning assertion that the rebuilding of Iraq "is a matter for the United Nations and for it alone" is treated with considerably more seriousness here than in Washington, where France is merely a sick joke. Tony Blair is keen, as the British say, to repair his relations with Europe, and the morsel thrown to him in Belfast - George W.'s vague promise that the U.N. would have a "vital role" in Iraq - has already been interpreted by M. Chirac as meaning that the U.N. and not the U.S. will be the dominant power in postwar Baghdad.
George W.'s promise was hailed, naturally, by Mr. Blair as a success for "the special relationship," and just what he needed to assuage the cuckoo elements of his Labor Party, suspicious that the United States wants only to exploit Iraq's oil wealth. If someone here suggested that George W. has a secret plan to build a pipeline from Baghdad to Dallas the tale would quickly find an audience. (Dick Cheney has already awarded the contract to Halliburton. Pass it on.)
Mr. Blair got an unexpected headache this weekend with Vladimir Putin's invitation to M. Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder to attend a summit of sad-sack losers in St. Petersburg, where they will entertain each other with speculations on what the world would be like if someone put them in charge of something more exalted than the important humanitarian duty - emptying the bedpans and so forth - George W. envisions for the United Nations. For every man according to his abilities, to every man according to his needs. Good socialists will surely understand that.
What the antiwar critics, here and throughout Europe, cannot yet understand, let alone abide, is that the Americans won the war, taking fewer casualties and in a shorter time than anyone could have dared imagine, and in the end were met with cheers, flowers and kisses from the liberated Iraqis. And not just the Americans. The "coalition of the willing" was not merely an alliance of "the Anglo-Saxons," as M. Chirac insists (as if he had coined the ultimate insult), but a coalition including Poles, which establishes their nation as a keystone of "the new Europe," the Spaniards, whose prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, has established himself as an authentic new Atlantic power, as well as the Australians, whose prime minister, John Howard, defied loud and angry domestic opposition to the war to "do the right thing" by casting his nation's lot with what a more imaginative M. Chirac might call the "Anglosphere."
Tony Blair himself emerges, through the raucous din of
rude dissent, as the natural leader of "the new Europe" - the
No. 1 friend of the world's No. 1 power. Derided as George
W.'s poodle only a fortnight ago, he's recognized this morning
as the English bulldog with real teeth, bared and ready for
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