Tuesday, February 18, 2003
Paul Krugman has written another opinion piece on the whole U.S./Europe/Iraq thing. There's not much to say about it: it's pretty inane and devoid of much substance. His grand thesis? You might want to sit down for this:
We have different views partly because we see different news.
Well, thank you for that brilliant flash of insight, oh the Great Media Commentator Person Guy. Gee, wouldn't it be great if we had satellite transmission of news channels worldwide? Or if there was a global network that spanned the globe, and permitted news and views to cross international boundaries? Yeah, that'd be cool... But let's skip it, because there's a smelly non-sequitur that we should bag, wrap in our plastic sheeting and duct tape, so we can toss it down the trash chute:
Let's back up. Many Americans now blame France for the chill in U.S.-European relations. There is even talk of boycotting French products.

But France's attitude isn't exceptional. Last Saturday's huge demonstrations confirmed polls that show deep distrust of the Bush administration and skepticism about an Iraq war in all major European nations, whatever position their governments may take. In fact, the biggest demonstrations were in countries whose governments are supporting the Bush administration.
But our problem isn't with French demonstrations -- it's with the obstructionist attitude of the French government, which has displayed arrogance on a scale that not even the ugliest caricature of the American administration never reached. Taking lectures from the same two-faced snits that are sucking up to Syria tends to get our goat.
Last Saturday's huge demonstrations confirmed polls that show deep distrust of the Bush administration and skepticism about an Iraq war in all major European nations, whatever position their governments may take. In fact, the biggest demonstrations were in countries whose governments are supporting the Bush administration.

There were big demonstrations in America too. But distrust of the U.S. overseas has reached such a level, even among our British allies, that a recent British poll ranked the U.S. as the world's most dangerous nation — ahead of North Korea and Iraq.
Well, for crying out loud, Dr. Krugman, doesn't this tell you something? America, the nation that ended up rescuing Britain from the consequences of its own asinine appeasement, that kept Europe safe from the Russians for nearly half a century, is considered by the British to be more dangerous than two mass-murdering lunatics who starve their own populations. You could practically write the headline for this: Britons Drink the Kool-Aid. But nooo, it's supposed to be a wake-up call to us to consult with the Saddam-protecting offspring of Neville Chamberlain, who would throw overboard the most effective prime minister of their left-leaning party, just to protect Saddam or maintain the honor of the United Nations.

We'll skip some whining about the coverage the "peace" marches got -- please, we've seen all we need to see, and who gives a shit? -- and move right to this:

For months both major U.S. cable news networks have acted as if the decision to invade Iraq has already been made, and have in effect seen it as their job to prepare the American public for the coming war.
Yes, sirree, Bob. CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, hell, PBS have all been subordinated to the Defense Department, so that the government may show us newsreels with lots of eagle logos, and pictures of our equipment rolling off to fight the Arab huns.
Europeans, who don't see the same things on TV, are far more inclined to wonder why Iraq — rather than North Korea, or for that matter Al Qaeda — has become the focus of U.S. policy.
Yes, the Europeans are so much more sophisticated, aren't they? What with the talks of "cowboys" and "rush to war," not to mention fearing Bush more than a nuclear Hussein? Oh, I'm sorry, they get their TV news from government-funded newschannels, which we know are perpetually objective, with nary a political axe to grind amongst the whole lot of them. If only we could replicate this in the States by shooting down Murdoch's Space Megaphones, life would be so much better!

As to our policies: Iraq, once nuclear, is a major regional power, dangerous to its neighbors and the world's oil supply. North Korea -- umm, it's not. Al Qaeda is being pursued; I'm sure we could get that back on top of our national agenda, if only the French could squeal a little louder about it. ("America -- will you imprison anyone who crosses you?! Imperialist power!")

That's why so many of them question American motives, suspecting that it's all about oil or that the administration is simply picking on a convenient enemy it knows it can defeat.
Apparently none of them choose to take it a step further, and ask why we aren't attacking an enemy we could defeat more easily -- such as Saudi Arabia, for example, or maybe Belgium.
They don't see opposition to an Iraq war as cowardice; they see it as courage, a matter of standing up to the bullying Bush administration.
Woo-hoo! Well, let me just congratulate the courageous Europeans on their courageous act of courageously standing up to the Bush administration with courage! Yes, long shall the days be remembered when rich Westerners joined with the fascist, communist, socialist, anarchist, and Islamist outfits to bravely march in liberal democratic countries where their safety was never in question (thanks in large part to American sacrifices from the 1940s onwards), against a government they knew wouldn't even give a rip about them, much less harm them, in order to spread the glorious messages of "No War" "Drop Bush Not Bombs" "Free Palestine" and -- my personal favorite, from the I Shit You Not file -- "Peace In Our Time"! Yes, the Iranian demonstrators, the Poles from Solidarity, the students of Tiananmen Square, the Czechs and Hungarians who demonstrated against the Soviets, hell, the Warsaw Ghetto uprising -- they have nothing on the intrepid souls who rode subways and buses and carried signs and chanted in the streets of London, Madrid, Rome, or Paris for half a day, after which they braved the elements to get themselves some coffee. Kudos to you, oh heroic anti-Bush marchers! ...Oh, never mind, Saddam already said that.

We'll skip the conclusion, where Krugman insinuates that maybe the U.S. media are afraid of reporting "the Lawd's honest truth," for fear of being labeled unpatriotic. (Yeah, like I'm sure that'll stop the sophisticates at PBS.) Really, it's hard to even find the point here. But I think I'd like to see some more surveys of Europeans. Really, after enduring arrogant snickering about "ignorant Americans," it's nice to see some undisguised stupidity from the other side of the ocean.

Update: Andrew sullivan has more (read the four entries from top to bottom). I've got to say, Krugman was half right: the Europeans do get something "different," but I'm not sure I'd classify it as "news."

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