Friday, September 24, 2004


Cartoon courtesy of Kevin Kallaugher

"Diplomacy" Posted by Hello

Can anyone explain to me why France, Germany, Russia, China et al are going to be more likely to send troops to Iraq just because Kerry asks them nicely? Given that these nations generally make foreign policy decisions based on perceived interests and not on personal pique, given that Kerry stated in his DNC speech that any additional U.S. troops that he would muster would be "not for Iraq," and given that Kerry has also characterized Iraq as a quagmire, a mess, a situation that is worsening, can anyone explain to me why I should expect more international cooperation in Iraq to be the result of a Kerry Administration? Anyone? .... Anyone? Note that this is a case in which I actually hope that I am wrong.

UPDATE: If this Financial Times article is correct, Kerry's hopes are fading fast (thanks to Daniel Drezner for the link)
French and German government officials say they will not significantly increase military assistance in Iraq even if John Kerry, the Democratic presidential challenger, is elected on November 2.

Mr Kerry, who has attacked President George W. Bush for failing to broaden the US-led alliance in Iraq, has pledged to improve relations with European allies and increase international military assistance in Iraq.

"I cannot imagine that there will be any change in our decision not to send troops, whoever becomes president," Gert Weisskirchen, member of parliament and foreign policy expert for Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party, said in an interview.
I wonder what Kerry's response to this will be?

UPDATE II: An anonymous comment on this post takes me to task for not reading the more equivocal language that appears later on in the Financial Times piece. Mea Culpa. The caveats contained therein do make it less certain that a Kerry Presidency might fail in its quest to get French and/or German troops on Iraqi soil.

On the other hand, I stumbled across this International Herald Tribune article that seems fairly unequivocal, at least in the case of Germany:
But last week, just after Kerry's major speech on the war in which he insisted that the United States "must make Iraq the world's responsibility" and that others "should share the burden," Schröder's sense of courtesy collided with reality and he drove a spike into the notion. He told reporters, "We won't send any German soldiers to Iraq, and that's where it's going to remain."

More later on in the article:
So, suggesting that with Kerry's big Iraq statement under their belts it was now a good time for the Allies to ask themselves who would be a better American president for them, Süddeutsche pointed the question rhetorically at Gerhard Schröder, and then responded in his stead.
"The answer: Bush," the newspaper, a constant critic of the president, wrote.
As for the Democrat, Süddeutsche said Kerry "is suggesting that he can produce a little miracle and seduce America's battered friends into high-yield performances along the lines of Washington's wishes." For all of Kerry's opportunity to create a foreign policy with greater credibility and legitimacy, that was not realistic, it said. Schröder couldn't send Bundeswehr troops to Iraq, and there would be "no morning-after special gift for a President Kerry."

As for France?

Similar considerations also work for France. It would take exceptional sophistry for President Jacques Chirac to explain putting French lives on the line in Iraq. Besides, sidling up to any American president would not appear to have much appeal to Chirac at a time when Le Figaro says he's busy promoting himself as successor to Nehru and Nasser in leading the "nonaligned world."

I conclude that the burden of proof is still on Kerry to demonstrate how he can overcome these significant obstacles.

i doubt russia or especially china will EVER send troops, each for their own reasons. It's not politically wise domestically in china. The issue contains within it an important we-are-good-look-at-them-they-are-bad element and they consider themselves far removed from the issue anyway. Russia has its own problems in chechnya and i doubt much could reasonably be asked of them. but france might be willing to help out if only in a scheme to embarrass or teach a message to Bush and his republican cronies who have been smearing them from day one because they think cowboy hats are tacky. in much the same way bush ignored Europe in the run-up to iraq, europe is now trying pretty hard to ignore him. so, i wouldn't be surprised if europe sees kerry as a more reasonable american leader and will then make efforts to show the US that the grudge is not being held against the country's citizens or government, only its current leader.

mewaters [at] metanoiac [dot] com
IMO, the continued posturing that France, Germany, Russia and others will only sign on under a Kerry presidency reveals more about Kerry's distended ego than it does about much anything else. Whenever Kerry gives speeches indicating that he would succeed where the Bush administration has failed, he consistently fails to discuss any concrete plans or otherwise to justify his utter certainty on the issue. As far as I can tell, he believes he can do better solely because, well, he's John Kerry, dammit! That sounds suspiciously like a cult of personality to me.
a cult of personality?!

that's one of the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. if anyone has a cult of personality, it's Bush (but in his case it might be a cult of non-personality) or Schwarzennegger over in California.

isn't it true that Kerry might have values that are more in line with what the French or the Germans look for when assessing our Presidents and their foreign policies?

the thing with the democrats is that they are bringing too much grace to the table this election season. they shouldn't feel like they have to hold anything back because it might be considered rude. they aren't fighting fire with fire.
Whether Kerry or Arnold more closely approximate a cult of personality wasn't really the question I was asking (though, having studied North Korea, I can say that neither of them come close to a "real" cult of personality). And yes, Kerry's values may be "more in line" with those of Germany and France in general. But I still don't see how this gets more French and German troops on the ground in Iraq to help Kerry win "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." And this is what Kerry continually promises he can and will deliver. How?
maybe you're right.

but also, i think if Kerry were to lay his plan out for everyone to see on this matter, it might be interpreted as arrogance of the same sort Bush has been pushing since before the war in Iraq.
I think that article makes greater leaps in assumption than the quotes upon which it was based permit.

A French official says,

"A lot depends on who is in power in both Washington and Baghdad..."


"In fact, high-ranking German officials are privately concerned at the prospect of Mr Kerry becoming president, arguing it would not change US demands but make it more difficult to reject them."

The quotes used are not sufficient to support the firm tone right at the start of the article:

"French and German government officials say they will not significantly increase military assistance in Iraq even if John Kerry, the Democratic presidential challenger, is elected on November 2."
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