On Dancing and War
There is an opinion columnist who writes for the Post that I lovingly referr to as the “scowley faced man” (this is in contrast to “big foreheaded man“). Add Mr. Novak, and these the individuals represent the triumvirate conservative bloc of the Post. Reading their articles usually makes me pretty upset because of the highly selective tunnel vision when it comes to evaluating facts.
Mr. Krauthammer argues, with great force but little precision, that the multinational institutions of the UN and the EU failed to protect the 15 British sailors who were captured last week by Iran. The EU refused to impose requested tarriffs and the UN refused to condemn the Iranian action. This, according to Mr. Krauthammer, shows the irrelevance of multinational institutions. In the end, it was the Americans who solved the problem.
There’s an old saying, “dance with the one who brought you” that is awfully applicable in this situation. Britian chose to become involved with the Iraq war over the objections of other member EU nations and without the support of the UN. The Prime Minister bought what President Bush was selling and have been at our side from the beginning, all the while thumbing his nose at the multinational institutions. In the international order that’s their choice; no country is obligated to participate in transnational organizations.
But there are consequences for ones actions. Why, if the EU does not support the military action in Iraq, would anyone expect the EU to support economic sanctions on behalf of a country who has defined that collective will? If Michigan suddenly declared war on Canada, invaded, and had a group of their soldiers captured, would the United States be obligated to impose sanctions against our largest trading partner?
What, a silly analogy you say? Of course it’s a silly analogy, the United States would never allow Michigan to attack Canada, the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from engaging in foreign relations. It’s one the cohering factors of the Union. Michigan need not fear the U.S. turning a blind eye, and the U.S. need not fear Michigan going on some fool’s errand. Such is not the case with the EU, because if it were, the EU would never have permitted the UK to join the American’s Iraqi adventure, the sailors would never have been in/near/adjacent to Iranian waters, and there wouldn’t even be a question of whether sanctions were needed.
Does the fact that the resolution to this crises came out of American action mean the EU, or the UN, is incompetent or unnecessary? No, it just shows you’re best bet is to dance with the one who brought you.