Tuesday, February 11
The Wimps of War
Paul Krugman, New York Times, February 11, 2003
George W. Bush's admirers often describe his stand against Saddam Hussein as "Churchillian." Yet his speeches about Iraq — and for that matter about everything else — have been notably lacking in promises of blood, toil, tears and sweat. Has there ever before been a leader who combined so much martial rhetoric with so few calls for sacrifice?
Or to put it a bit differently: Is Mr. Bush, for all his tough talk, unwilling to admit that going to war involves some hard choices? Unfortunately, that would be all too consistent with his governing style. And though you don't hear much about it in the U.S. media, a lack of faith in Mr. Bush's staying power — a fear that he will wimp out in the aftermath of war, that he won't do what is needed to rebuild Iraq — is a large factor in the growing rift between Europe and the United States.
Why might Europeans not trust Mr. Bush to follow through after an Iraq war? One answer is that they've been mightily unimpressed with his follow-through in Afghanistan. Another is that they've noticed that promises the Bush administration makes when it needs military allies tend to become inoperative once the shooting stops — just ask General Musharraf about Pakistan's textile exports. [...]
In the days ahead, as the diplomatic confrontation between the Bush administration and the Europeans escalates, remember this: Viewed from the outside, Mr. Bush's America does not look like a regime whose promises you can trust.