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Strategic Effects of Conflict with Iraq: Europe

Authored by LTC Raymond A. Millen. | March 2003

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The tone of this analysis is positive for two reasons. First, optimism is contagious and fuels success. The European contagion of pessimism has done nothing to resolve the conflicts in the Middle East or to curb the growth of regional terrorists. Europe has already predicted disaster and failure. Only American leadership can shake its European allies from their defeatist attitude. Second, action is preferred to inaction. Again, European inattention and appeasement of Middle East violence have brought the international community to this predicament. As long as Europe takes counsel of its fears, it will shrink from action. The EU will never admit this, but this makes it no less true. Inaction has never brought success to any human enterprise. Action incurs risk, but it also presents enormous opportunities. Again, through leadership, America can energize Europe to action and restore its self-confidence and belief in its moral rectitude.

The American-led war against Iraq and post-war initiatives will provide the catalyst for Europe to break out of its continental-centric doldrums. Iraq will serve as a platform for the Europeans to practice their style of diplomacy and conflict resolution. The EU will not thank the United States let alone admit the U.S. approach was correct, nor will it hesitate to promote its agenda while denigrating the efforts of the United States.

This is how the EU behaves, and its demeanor supports the self-delusion of European relevancy in international affairs. Behind the scenes, the prestige and admiration of the United States will remain unchallenged. More importantly, success in Iraq and the Middle East will provide enormous capital for future security initiatives against the WOT between the United States and Europe.

The EU will not create an expeditionary force as touted. At best, the ESPD rapid reaction corps will eventually become a formalized peacekeeping force. Success in the Middle East will require nothing greater than a peacekeeping force, so the issue becomes academic. As in the past, the United States will need to rely on bilateral agreements when building coalitions, but with the stability in the Middle East, the world will be a safer place.