As Steven Den Beste wrote many times, we don't gain allies by making concessions and signing treaties. Real alliances only arise due to common interests. In a comment to my previous post on international hubris, Mark started with a quote from me and wrote:

MW: "My own advice is that the irrelevant part should step lightly to ensure that they don't fall into the half that's trying to hurt us."

Oh yes... that's just what we need.... more enemies and less allies.

But neither allies nor enemies are created by methods, they are only created by our goals. We want to spread freedom, wealth, and democracy, but a significant portion of the world -- including parts of the West -- want to keep the status quo because it's more profitable and easier. That's why France, Germany, and the UN opposed the liberation of Iraq. They had and have different goals than we do, which is why they aren't our allies.

As Mr. Den Beste wrote of those two nations in February of 2003, while they were obstructing us in the UN:

For all practical purposes, both nations are now enemies. Or rather, their governments are. The people of those nations are not, and we need to keep that in mind. I have friends in Germany and they are still my friends. But their governments are not acting like "allies". They're acting like enemies.

There is no alliance, and there is no friendship. This is no longer a deep difference of opinion between friends; it is fullblown opposition. They are actively opposing us and actively supporting our enemies, and there's no other way we can consider them now except as active cobelligerents against us. Their reputations and their influence are now direct threats to us, and we will need to damage them. This is, effectively, war now between the US/UK and France/Germany.

It isn't going to be a shooting war, however; it's a war of diplomacy and propaganda and influence. So if we come upon records in Iraq, or find people there who can prove that France and Germany have been actively trafficking in forbidden goods, or that they have been collaborating in other even more damaging ways, then public revelation of it will make their positions far less strong and reduce their threat to us. It doesn't matter how French or German voters react; what will be important is how everyone else, in Europe and in America and around the world view it.

Some will smile quietly about how they'd been shafting the Americans for years. But no one would trust them, and as a practical matter their international influence would be shattered. This would also have the effect of completing the destruction of the UN if it was shown that a veto power had been actively violating trade sanctions it had voted for.

Now that the oil-for-food scandal is being thoroughly investigated, it's clear that many nations who claimed to be our allies were, in fact, trying to screw us over. Why? Because it was in their interests to do so. We do what's in our interests, and they do what's in their interests. But when those interests don't line up, there's no "alliance", no matter what any piece of paper may say.

So to Mark's point, the only way for us to gain allies is for either our goals to change or for their goals to change. I don't want ours to change; no matter how much France and Germany and the UN love tyranny and oppression, I think we should fight against it at every reasonable opportunity. I'd love to have them in agreement over that, but I don't think it's likely to happen any time soon. It certainly won't happen just because President Bush "consults" more closely with them, unless he works against our interests and does what they tell him to.

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