Bullies don’t like to see other bullies beaten up. The precedent unsettles them. This largely explains China’s protest of the war in Iraq. “Military action against Iraq is violating the norms of international behavior,” says China. Since when has China cared about norms of international behavior?
America has boldly tossed aside the U.N. security blanket to which tyrants cling. It is no wonder that they feel uncomfortably naked.
“We urge the relevant countries to stop using force, to stop military action,” says China. “The Iraqi question must return to the track of political settlement within the U.N. framework.”
We can expect other countries known for aggression to make similar appeals. They know the United Nations exists to deliberate for the purposes of inaction. They know the U.N. Security Council only provides security for rogue regimes and no real security for innocent peoples.
Russia is also protesting the war with characteristic dishonesty. How seriously can we take its criticism of American “unilateralism” when it practiced unilateralism in Chechnya? Russia argued plausibly in that case that its self-defense required aggression against radical Islamic aggressors. Why do they now deny that right to America?
Many countries will not judge this war on its merits. They decided long ago to judge it according to morally neutral balance-of-power concerns. According to this analysis, any reasonable defensive action America takes — from creating a nuclear shield to fighting this war against a proven aggressor — is “offensive.” The countries that opposed Ronald Reagan’s nuclear shield — such as France, China, and Russia — also oppose this war, because America’s strong defense is counted as a “gain.” A secure America worries them. They would prefer that it remain insecure so that they can make power grabs without having to look over their shoulders.
Bad countries and bad people are assigning their own bad motives to America. They assume America is as power-hungry and unscrupulous as they are. When they twist Reagan’s nuclear shield into a scheme to dominate the world and cast America’s war against a savage dictator with weapons of mass destruction as a war for “oil” and pure power, they reveal more about themselves than America.
“Killer Bush! Down! Down! This dictatorship won’t do!” protesters cry from dictatorial countries run by killers.
Former Soviet Union functionary Mikhail Gorbachev says the U.S. war “defies the existence of the United Nations and international laws. The U.S. stance…means it regards other nations as subject countries or states.” Kind of like you and your Soviet thug friends viewed the Eastern Bloc? Gorbachev still doesn’t like that the U.S. is targeting evil empires. He is not sure if evil even exists, except maybe in the atmosphere. Like Hans Blix, he is more worried about temperatures than terrorists: “The United States seems to believe this military action shows its world leadership. But that is its misconception. Real world leadership is to take initiatives in promoting the Kyoto Protocol, nuclear disarmament, and arms control, and solving environmental issues.”
The Vatican continues to call the war a “tragic initiative.” Even as it admits that Hussein wasn’t traveling down the road to peace — “it laments the fact that the Iraqi government did not accept the resolutions of the United Nations,” said the pope’s spokesman — it criticizes America for abandoning this road to nowhere: the Vatican “deplores the interruption of the path of negotiations, according to international law, for a peaceful solution to the Iraqi drama.” Wouldn’t it be more honest if the Vatican just said, “We knew Hussein wasn’t open to diplomacy. But war is worse than Hussein flouting diplomacy. Let him keep his weapons”? Cardinal Pio Laghi says war could have been averted. True. You can always avoid war by surrendering, or by remaining idle before a grave danger. But at least be honest about it. The Vatican has pretended its quasi-pacifism is a good defense strategy.
Mexico President Vicente Fox, meanwhile, used the start of the war to pander to his largely antiwar domestic audience. Spared from the embarrassment of having to vote against the U.S. at the U.N., Fox says his antiwar stance won’t hurt relations with America. But it probably will. The television footage on Thursday of Mexican protesters stamping on the American flag was outrageous. During the Gulf War, one Mexican newspaper was so anti-American observers began calling it “The Baghdad Daily.”
From Beijing to Moscow to Mexico City, the same Communists and socialists who didn’t want America to fight the Cold War don’t want America to fight this one.