Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Hardest Job in the Circus...

...is cleaning up after the elephants. From Newsweek :
It is hard to overestimate the damage that the Bush administration did to America's historic Western alliance. Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld's offhand dismissal of "Old Europe," as against the new states of Central Europe, set the tone. Rumsfeld later said he'd mangled his text; and in another circumstance the European allies might have accepted that. But Rumsfeld's misspeaking, if that is what it was, points to the real damage. At its root, the Europeans believe they were systematically brushed aside—even lied to. At the depth of the Iraq debacle, one senior adviser at No. 10 Downing Street exclaimed: "We've been betrayed by a bunch of incompetents in Washington." Tony Blair, Brown's predecessor and that official's admired boss, was effectively destroyed by his support of W. The same adviser is now in Britain's Washington embassy. Does anyone believe he has forgotten what prompted his outburst?
The perception of betrayal goes far wider than rigged intelligence estimates and unfounded optimism about Iraq. On issue after issue (Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guant√°namo, Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations), the current cadre of European leaders and officials believe the Bush White House failed to consult them; worse, it did not level with them about its real goals. And, more alarming still, it simply had no idea what it was getting into. The economic meltdown—which all Europeans see as originating in a massive failure by a corrupted U.S. system of government to sensibly regulate Wall Street—is merely, for Europe's leaders, final proof that the Washington they respected and, ultimately, trusted through the Cold War years is no more.

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