No Rest for the Weary
"TWELVE hours after sharing an intimate lobster risotto and proclaiming an end to their Iraq war feud, President Bush and Jaques Chirac were yesterday at loggerheads on a range of issues.
The pair disagreed on China, Iran, Iraq and the future of Nato, marring efforts by US and European leaders to declare that transatlantic relations had entered a new era of harmony.
As Mr Bush attended consecutive summits with Nato and EU heads of government Brussels police fired water cannon to break up demonstrations against his presence.
In Moscow, President Putin took issue with Mr Bush’s criticism of his drift towards authoritarianism, saying that Russia would develop its own form of democracy without foreign interference.
In Brussels, the clearest disagreement was over the EU’s plans to lift its arms embargo against China. “With regard to China, Europe intends to remove the last obstacles to its relations with this important country,” M. Chirac insisted.
But Mr Bush spoke of his “deep concern” that a transfer of military technology would change the balance of relations between China and Taiwan, a country US troops might one day have to protect.
European leaders believe they can meet American concerns with a strict code of conduct on what could be exported, and allowing officials to check dual use items were not being used in illicit weaponry.
But Mr Bush expressed no enthusiasm for such a system, and said he would not intervene to prevent the US Congress retaliating by blocking US military sales to Europe.
“The Congress will be making the decisions as to how to react to what will be perceived by some as a technology transfer to China,” he said.
On Iran, M.Chirac urged Mr Bush to back European efforts to dissuade Tehran from pursuing nuclear weapons by granting it economic and trade benefits. M Chirac said that Iran should be allowed to buy civil aircraft engines and to join the World Trade Organisation. “I don’t see why that should not be done and I said so to the President of the United States,” he said." The rest here.
The idea that Bush could go there, smile, talk funny and be nice, and expect European leaders to forget their perceived danger that Bush poses to the world is simply childish. Those leaders are politicians too. They run for office. They have constituencies, and those voters are overwhelmingly negative as to what Bush has done and to his announced intentions. Bush's begging there will go for naught. It makes the case that we need the Europeans (contrary to what the US had said previously), that we cannot go it alone, and that we shall not get our way through bluster.