May 31, 2003


Europe Awaits, With Bated Breath (RICHARD BERNSTEIN, May 31, 2003, NY Times)
Referring to "weapons of mass destruction," the conservative newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote in an editorial today:

"America and Great Britain grounded their military operation on the argument that the dictator in Baghdad was building W.M.D., that no inspections regime could really do anything about it and, given the seriousness of the threat, there was no time to lose. Since the end of the war, much has been unearthed to show the criminal nature of the Hussein regime, and that gives moral justification to a regime change. But up to now there has been no evidence for the W.M.D. that were used as grounds for war."

The newspaper argued that the Bush administration's justification for the war had crumbled, and American "credibility and legitimacy" were therefore weakened.

Mr. Bush arrives in a Europe whose various publics generally opposed the Iraq war, regardless of the position taken by their governments - France and Germany loudly opposed, and Britain, Spain and Italy in support. Still, as time has passed, and as reports of the horrors of life in prewar Iraq have appeared, some of the antiwar passion of ordinary Europeans seems to have dissipated.

There were, for example, no large demonstrations being planned to coincide with Mr. Bush's visit, which would probably not have been the case only a few weeks ago.

The lack of protesters effectively denies the notion that the lack of WMD matters. Even the Left tends to have some trouble turning out the crowds once the killing fields are exposed and the argument that war was justified but on different grounds is unlikely to move the masses. We're right back where we started. The diehards on one side don't care whether there was WMD or not (that's us); those on the other don't care how murderous Saddam was. Folks in the middle are happy to have won so easily but will have forgetten the war and Iraq by the 4th of July. On to North Korea. Posted by Orrin Judd at May 31, 2003 6:16 AM
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