David Adnesnik writes about the reaction to a previous post about how the bombing of the UN signifies that the ancien regime remnants won't win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi. I concour with David on this point. Whatever reprehensible sympathy some in the outside world cultivated for the ancien r?gime remnants pretty much disappeared as soon as the news story broke.
In the end, however flawed the UN is and however much it's lost its way, no matter some view it as deluded, the institution still tries to represent the best of the world. If one compares Viera de Mello's CV with that of Saddam or his inner clique, I'm certain even the most vociferous UN critic will admit that Viera de Mello was all around decent guy who was dedicated to making the world a better place. He worked with some pretty dangerous dossiers and managed to succeed. No one can conclude similarly with the Saddam clan. Indeed, the news of the surprising capture of Chemical Ali underscores the differences between both men. Further, the capture strikes me as fitting poetic justice. That Viera de Mello and the other UN personnel didn't die in vain and the Iraqi will eventually get back on their feet.
Leur justification n'est pas pertinente car on voit que les Palestiniens, au moins les plus radicaux, ne veuillent pas vivre en paix et ceux qui la d?sire doivent fermer leur gueule sous peine de se faire ?gorger.
Quoi faire? Bonne question dont je ne pas de r?ponse intelligente ? donner sauf peut-?tre c'est temps que les Isra?liens r?duisent quelques b?timents en ruine et tuer les chef de responsables. Ouais le monde condamnerait Isra?l mais peut-?tre pas cett fois-ci vu l'horreur de l'attentat au si?ge social de l'ONU plus t?t cette journ?e-l?. En outr, on doit ?touffer les financement de ce barbares. Pas fric pas de boums.
Scooting through various blogs, I'm struck by a common theme: that the UN bombing in Baghdad will finally compel many countries (Europeans to be precise) that the terrorists hate the civilized world. So finally those countries which have actively opposed the U.S. for invading Iraq.
Leaving aside the Iraqi controversy. I've always believed that most European countries do know that the Islamojihadists are at war with them. After all, if the Europeans didn't believe that the Germans wouldn't be in Afghanistan and the Spanish, Danes and Poles wouldn't be in postwar Iraq. I think the fundamental difference between the European and American is that the latter view the war on terror as primarily as one requiring the spy services to choke off the money supply; tail the suspects and connects the dots. Further, I also think that the Europeans are reluctant to engage in military strikes because they're worried that their armies would be so lethal that it would be hard to stop them from obliterating their enemies.
It's quite easy for the Americans to laugh and mock the Europeans but their militaries' underfunding is due to political decisions ratified by the society not military factors. The European soldier may be undertrained and not as professionalized as the American but neither is a thug in uniform that we see elsewhere.
Further, it mustn't be forgotten that for over 50 years the North American and European armies have trained with each other, learnt the same doctrine and achieve a high degree of interoperability. And that's particularly the case with the various special forces. Finally, I really wonder if the current American administration would encourage the European militaries to increase their training. I'm not resorting to silly conspiracy presumptions but rather if the current American administration is contented that the European underfunding of their military makes them dependent on American cooperation.
It's always pleasing when a fellow blogger quotes you I suppose for many American readers of Geitner's blog are somewhat surprised by the vehemence of my comments towards official America. The fact is the Bush Administration has been a great disappointment with respect to free trade issues.
Bush campaigned that his administration would enhance free trade around the world. Instead, he and his cabinet have done the total opposite. Worse, is that the administration used trade as a weapon against those allied countries that were opposed to the war in Iraq. Chile is the oftcited example. Even before the war, a Canadian official commented that even if the government had been able to raise an army of 50 000 and sent them to Iraq, that act alone wouldn't have resolved the softwood lumber dispute or any of the ususal irritants afflicting the bilateral relations. It's rather irritating when American officialdom and some of the commentariat shriek at how many European countries, and Canada, are anti-free trade when one could tersely remind the Americans that they too protect certain industries from competition.
So what do these rambling have to do America, Europe and their growing differences? It's this: before each sides blast the other for being a doofus, a protectionist, whatever, it might be a good idea to sit back and realize that both engage in behaviours sometimes that's at variance with their principles and statements. It's easy to call coal black when you're a lump of coal too.
This morning I came across a post by Geitner on the philosophical differences between America and Europe. I enjoyed the post because it was quite thought provoking; so much so that I just had to comment on the subject. Hopefully, I'll overturn the apple car of convetional wisdom that both side of the Atlantic labour under.
That Europe in recent years has become risk adverse and less competitive that the U.S. is a view that I somewhat accept. However, I flatly disagree with the implicit premise that Europe doesn't work; while America does. I've been warning Americans to be careful of the creeping hubris since their victory in Afghanistan. What bugs the Europeans- and it's a sentiment that I sometimes share with them- is that American capitalism is sometimes too ruthless and is rather callous at times. Europeans would point to the wholesale layoffs that American companies sometimes implement where tens of thousands of people are let go, communities are devastated and the executives are rewarded with obscene amounts of money from the stockholders.
Americans retort that the Europeans would rather stifle any necessary reforms because the interest groups are far too powerful and the state interferes far too in the market. Worse is that the generous welfare schemes are a positive disincentive to work and are facing collapse because of the demographic implosion.
My own view is that both side of the Atlantic can still learn from each other. I'd like Europe to adopt some of the American openness, flexibility and desire to innovate. Honestly, the elite really have to stop being so afraid of the ordinary people and leave them alone to be creative and productive. The Europeans are just as smart and innovative as the Americans even if their societies don't like prodigies. The Americans could also learn from the Europeans and remember that as the former produce and sell stuff, there's also a societal component to capitalism that mustn't be overlooked. Further that leisure doesn't equal laziness but the free time to enjoy other aspects of life like fishing, eating out, spending time with the family, etc.
Furthermore, there are still areas which both sides still have a lot in common and shouldn't drift apart. The 2 most obvious are illegal immigration and corruption in politics. It's often forgotten that Europe also suffers from a very serious illegal immigration problem just like America. Indeed, everyday about thousands of people illegally cross the Straits of Hercules to get to Spain. Most are caught, some die on rout and some make it. The illegal immigration in Europe has provoked- and still continues- serious social tensions between the illegals and the citizens. No doubt the American (and to a lesser extent, the Canadian) can serve as a point of departure for the Europeans. For the Americans, the European experience can be viewed as a canary in the coal mine. A possible future that Americans could have to deal with if they don't pay attention to immigration issues.
Corruption in politics is another common area. In Europe one of the most persistent forms of corruption is the illegal financing of political parties via hidden pay off in public contracts, hiring 'consultants' who do nothing, and so on. America could learn about the various ingenious ways that European politicians and candidates think up ingenious ways to bypass the law on part financing. The Europeans can learn from the Americans as they struggle to pass legislation that will comply with the constitutional obligations of free speech while respecting the principles of fair and competitive elections.
No doubt the relations between the two are evolving but evolution shouldn't signify alienation or hostility. I hope that farsighted Europeans and Americans realize that they still have much in common even if they express that commonality through diverse means.