With Allies Like These

John Vinocur comments in the International Herald Tribune on Kerry’s prospects for making Iraq the “world’s responsibility”:

A participant on the sidelines of talks in Berlin between Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Richard Holbrooke, a would-be secretary of state in a John Kerry presidency, told a story about the meeting and the theme of how a Kerry-friendly Europe would leap to America’s aid in bringing stability to Iraq. (Or maybe hide under the bed.)

"Schröder," the American said, "asked Holbrooke what Kerry would do if he were elected. Holbrooke replied one of the first things would be to get on the phone and invite him and President Jacques Chirac to the White House. The chancellor laughed out loud. Then he said, 'That's what I was afraid of.'"

The participant recalled the moment as very jolly. Everybody in the chancellor's office, including Holbrooke, a former ambassador to Germany, joined in the chuckles.

That was in June, when the subject was still handled elliptically. Early in September, a German official, asked privately by a visitor if Kerry's claim of good relations with Europe could get him a German military presence in Iraq, stifled a guffaw; an explicit response, but wordless, and difficult to transcribe.

The odds are palpably worse with the French:

Asked about his view of the American presidential election, Chirac's former foreign minister, Hubert Védrine, who first described U.S. unilateralism as a central global problem during the eight "hyperpower" years of the Clinton administration, said it was a shame the rest of the planet could not vote.

It was "sad" to see, Vedrine said, how these Americans, this "nice people" ("peuple attachant" in French), were drowned in propaganda and "cut off from the rest of the world." The term is used in French travel literature, with seeming condescension, to describe interesting savages or exotic but childlike ethnic groups.

May we continue to fail the Global Test.

Thanks to The Belgravia Dispatch.

Posted by John-Paul Pagano at October 6, 2004 11:18 PM