Winning the Peace

Europeans who demonstrated for peace must now turn their attention to what happens when it actually breaks out

The streets of Europe are clear again. The millions that thronged them from mid-February to mid-March to protest the Bush administration's preemptive war on Iraq are now anxiously following that war's progress on their TVs at home and on their desktops at work. As German Chancellor Schröder, who took a firmer and earlier stance against the war than America's favorite ally-turned-pariah, French President Jacques Chirac, said practically the moment tanks crossed the border from Kuwait, this war is now a "fact." With US forces driving deep into Baghdad and the British struggling to "secure" Basra once and for all, "blocking traffic," as Marc Cooper forcefully argues in the LA Weekly would, at this point, not only be sadly futile but also counter-productive.

The peace movement, Cooper writes, must accept reality and head the Bushies off at the next pass. "The fight to directly include the UN in the administering of [humanitarian] relief (instead of the Bush administration's proposed reliance on private pork-barrel contractors) is our fight -- one infinitely more important than impotently shaking our fists at the CNN building."

Of course, the fist-shakers never run out of silly ideas. There was a flurry of email for a while there trying to scare up a boycott of American products, but it never seems to have got off the ground. Discussion screeched to a halt on one list when it was discovered that the ultra-right-wing National Democratic Party was waging precisely the same campaign. Meanwhile, knee-jerk conservatives in the US are trying to pull the same stunt in reverse, but fortunately, as the Financial Times reports, calls for a boycott of German goods are having next-to-zero effect.

But more constructive, if messier and less emotionally gratifying measures are being taken by the foreign ministers of the three major opponents to the war, France, Russia and Germany. Toiling to salvage the UN after the Bushies trashed it, they're discovering it's going to be an uphill battle. In the long run, though, with Rumsfeld and Co. eagerly eyeing Syria and Iran, this is going to be the fight that counts -- not the one already lost.


"It is not yet quite in the Fukuyama End of History and Huntington Clash of Civilisations class for impact - both of them journal articles later turned into books - but it is heading that way. One reason it has had such an impact is his talent for bold generalisation and provocative overstatement." The book is Robert Kagan's Paradise and Power, which grew out of a Policy Review article that began, "It is time to stop pretending that Europeans and Americans share a common view of the world, or even that they occupy the same world." Timothy Garton Ash grudgingly approves of about half of what Kagan has to say, but tears into the other half in Prospect: "Europe's true hallmark is not weakness but diversity."

If Ash only goes halfway in his dismissal of Kagan, David Runciman finishes the job in London Review of Books: "There are no clean lines in the new world order, but Kagan insists on them anyway, which explains both the superficial appeal of his book and the horrible mess he makes of his argument as he tries to stretch it out over a hundred pages."

But if provocative overstatement is your cup of tea, especially when it comes to transatlantic relations, you'll get a kick out of the debate between Daniel Cohn-Bendit and the "Prince of Darkness" himself, Richard Perle.

And finally, the Guardian runs parts one and two of Simon Schama's "brief history of mutual antipathy." (David Hudson)