- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 2, 2002

Now that President Bush has returned from his triumphant overseas trip, it's time for the European naysayers to eat their words. After all, Mr. Bush, who announced in December that the United States would exercise its sovereign right to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, returned from Europe having accomplished what all the naysayers said would be impossible. In Russia, Mr. Bush signed an arms-reduction treaty that will slash long-range strategic warheads by two-thirds over the next decade, even as the United States continues its pursuit of a robust national missile defense (NMD) system.
French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, who coined the term "hyperpower" to describe the United States, has said there is no French translation for the phrase "rogue state." Mocking the American concern about the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction (chemical, nuclear and biological) among the likes of Libya, Iraq, Iran and others, Mr. Vedrine gave The Washington Post an especially snappy quote two years ago for an article titled "Threat of 'Rogue' States: Is it Reality or Rhetoric?" "It is not a geopolitical category we use," said the French foreign minister, whose nation lost 11 civilians three weeks ago in a suicide car-bombing attack targeting Westerners in Karachi, Pakistan. "It is difficult for Europeans to imagine one of these 'rogue states' attacking the United States," Mr. Vedrine said.
Perhaps after France's al Qaeda-connected experience in Karachi, which French President Jacques Chirac called a "murderous, cowardly, odious terrorist attack," the French will appreciate American concerns about the ultimate intentions of murderous Islamic fundamentalists. Perhaps, but not likely. After all, the French have consistently miscalculated the modern geostrategic relationship between arms control and missile defense. In April 2001, for example, then-French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, the socialist who was humiliated in the recent French presidential election, declared: "We have never been in favor of [NMD], since it seems to us capable of upsetting the strategic balance we have managed to maintain until now."
Less than 10 days after George W. Bush took the oath of office, Mr. Chirac repeated what had become an article of faith among those who had embraced the 1972 ABM Treaty as the "cornerstone of strategic stability." If the United States withdrew from the ABM Treaty (unilaterally or otherwise), this crowd proclaimed, the unavoidable result would be the resumption of the nuclear-arms race. In Mr. Chirac's words: "Our concern is that, in our opinion, NMD cannot fail to relaunch the arms race in the world." In March 2000, when Mr. Bush was pursuing the presidency with a promise, if necessary, to toss the ABM Treaty on the ash heap of history, where it would join the rotting carcass of the Soviet Union, Mr. Chirac declared, "We must avoid any questioning of the ABM Treaty that could lead to a disruption of strategic equilibrium and a new nuclear-arms race." In June 2000, Mr. Chirac said, "Germany and France have the same analysis of the terrible consequences a NMD system could have on the ABM Treaty."
Germany? In a Reuters dispatch filed the day after Mr. Bush became president, German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping, who had been starving the German military of research and development funding, asserted that "the technical feasibility and the financing of a strategic missile defense are not at all manageable yet." How would he know? Two weeks after Mr. Bush was inaugurated, in a Los Angeles Times article titled "U.S. Will Build Missile Shield, EU Allies Told," the Green Party's Joschka Fischer, who is the German foreign minister, expressed his disapproval, asserting, "New arms races must be avoided and further disarmament steps introduced." The day before, in an Agence France-Presse article headlined "Germany's Schroeder Urges Dialogue Over U.S. Missile Defense Plan," German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) whined, "There is no doubt that within NATO, within the alliance, we have to talk about what the repercussion and potential implications [national missile defense] would have for Russia, China and the alliance."
As recently as mid-April four months after the United States announced its unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and six weeks before Mr. Bush would signed an arms-reduction treaty that would slash U.S. and Russian operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads from 6,000 each to between 1,700 and 2,200 each European pols were still fuming. Rolf Schumacher, the Social Democratic deputy director of the political department of Germany's Foreign Office, indignantly observed, "Arms control has benefited Europe." He criticized Mr. Bush for abandoning the "multilateralism [that] was successful policy for 40 years."
Surely, Mr. Schumacher was referring to the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed by President Reagan and Soviet President Gorbachev. That agreement led to the destruction of more than 400 modern medium-range Soviet ballistic missiles, which carried more than 1,200 nuclear warheads aimed at Western Europe. But this German pol's recollection of history was highly selective and self-serving. As is well-known by all parties to repeat a Soviet phrase popular at the time what made the 1987 INF Treaty possible was the 1983 acceptance by Western Europe of nearly 600 U.S. single-warhead missiles to counteract the Soviets' previously deployed multi-warhead SS-20 ballistic missiles. Mr. Schumacher did not like being reminded that SPD delegates in November 1983 rejected U.S. missiles on German ground.
America's friends in Europe have never seemed to get it. In this context, their self-righteousness of today is staggering to behold. "We were worried a year ago that Bush's position would create a terrible confrontation," an unnamed "senior German diplomat" told The Washington Post the other day. "Maybe we underestimated [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's creativeness and farsightedness." It's enough to make you want to tell them, "Shut up and eat your crow."

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