25 March 2004

Kaiser George W. Bush

OK, I gave you people enough of a popkultur break. Time for some more politics.

Billmon at the Whiskey Bar has a terrific article which you should read in its entirety comparing the Bush administration and the Iraq quagmire to Kaiser Wilhelm II and WWI.

Under Kaiser Wilhelm I and his prime minister, Otto von Bismark, the Hohenzollerns went from strength to strength -- unifying the Reich, decisively defeating their ancient enemy, France, enjoying an industrial boom that made Germany the largest economy in Europe. Bismark's diplomatic skills promoted German influence while avoiding (after 1870) war.

Wilhelm II, however, was a different sort of emperor -- insecure and arrogant, inept as a strategist but intolerant of criticism or dissent. He quickly rid himself of Bismark, and embarked on a program of military expansion and aggressive, if erratic, diplomatic bluster.
Ever since it emerged as a global superpower in World War II, the United States has taken great pains to surround itself with allies and embed itself in a framework of collective security arrangements -- the better to both leverage and legitimize its power.

Since 9/11, however, the neocons and their masters (Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush) have attacked those same arrangements with a peculiar ferocity, apparently in the belief that America no longer needs, or can afford, to cloak its hegemony in the trappings of multilateralism.

But with the meltdown in Spain, it appears to have finally dawned on many conservatives that America really might be alone, or fast heading that way -- and that this might not be such a good thing after all.

Almost by definition, the war on terrorism is a joint venture, in which intelligence sharing, police cooperation, and quick responses are the critical factors, not who owns the most aircraft carriers. If the Europeans conclude the Bush administration isn't serious about fighting that kind of war, but would rather tilt at Middle Eastern windmills (or oil wells, as the case may be) they could decide their own national interests would be best served by moving to the sidelines, and letting the Americans and Al Qaeda have at it. And why not? When has the Bush administration ever shown any willingness to sacrifice any of its interests -- even the partisan political ones -- to maintain a united front?

No comments: