- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 19, 2002

It is usual for adolescents to rebel against their parents. But in the instance of global geopolitics, the situation has been totally reversed.

I am referring to America and Europe. The young nation has assumed the parental role to Europe in world affairs, leading responsibly in a dangerous planet. In several instances, including both World Wars, then again in the Cold War, we pulled their vital chestnuts out of the fire. Yes, we received some admiration and gratitude for our actions, but with it came a good deal of resentment, jealousy, and arbitrary resistance to our efforts.

In Afghanistan, the NATO pledge that an attack on one is an attack on all was invoked by America. NATO gave its verbal agreement, but its participation against the Taliban and al Qaeda except for that of our one true friend, the United Kingdom was mostly noteworthy by its absence. After all, the terrorists did not bomb the Eiffel Tower or the Reichstag in Berlin or any of their modern skyscrapers.

Now, in the matter of Iraq, our aged if somewhat cowardly child is rebelling against papa America again.

True, the European nations did work with us energetically in the first war against Saddam Hussein. But that was when the Arab nations themselves were aghast at his invasion of Kuwait, something that could happen to them.

But now that Saddam's talons have supposedly been dulled, the Arab nations are no longer afraid. Simultaneously, the Europeans are no longer interested in eliminating Iraq's potential for mass destruction. After all, they want to do business with the brutal dictator. Nor do they want to alienate other Middle Easterners, the source of much of their oil. But perhaps most important, they are vexed once again by America's leadership, the same one that protected their lives against both Adolf Hitler and the Soviet Union. Dependence can breed hatred, or at least a deadly sense of inferiority.

It was bad enough when President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, alleged hawks, called for the end of Saddam Hussein's reign. But now that Secretary of State Colin Powell, ostensibly a more moderate voice, has called for Saddam's elimination, our sensitive European friends have become truly outraged. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer warned America not to treat its allies as satellite states in America's new empire, or to try to attack Iraq unilaterally. Pretty much the same warning came from another European spokesman, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine.

The European hypocrisy is evident. Not that they pledged to work with the United States to fight Iraq. They just wanted to express their resentment against American power, even to the ludicrous comment that we are building an "empire" along with the comparison to the satellite states of the Soviet Union.

"A world with 6 billion people will not be led into a peaceful future by the mightiest power alone," said Mr. Fischer.

Amen. America would love to cooperate with Europeans in eliminating evil dictators who threaten the West. But apparently, the Europeans are more interested in expressing adolescent rebellion than in fighting.

As we have seen in the past, once America leads as in deploying Pershing missiles in Europe against the Soviet Union over heavy European criticism our reluctant allies usually come along. Perhaps the same will happen this time when we resume our fight against Iraqi brutalism.

But we shouldn't look to Europe for early encouragement. Much as intelligent parents lead, not follow, their adolescent children, we should act responsibly in eliminating Saddam as soon as possible. Not only for our sake, but as well for that of our reluctant, truculent friends, the immature Europeans.

Martin Gross is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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