ISN’T IT TIME FOR GEORGE BUSH TO SHOW SOME LEADERSHIP?….It’s not clear ? especially at this point ? whether anything would budge European opinion about invading Iraq, but surely a number of their objections could be dealt with fairly easily:

  • It’s all about oil. Why doesn’t George Bush clearly and forthrightly promise to put Iraq’s oil production under some kind of third-party control (UN, EU, whatever)? In fact, simply for its PR value, I’d suggest a promise that no American companies will even be allowed to bid on oil contracts in post-war Iraq.

  • America merely wants a docile client state in place of Saddam’s Iraq. Why is there not a plan in place ? even a general one ? stating our intentions for a post-war Iraqi government? Are we interested in planting the seeds of representative government in Iraq or not?

  • America will lose interest and leave as soon as the war is over. That’s pretty much what’s happened in Afghanistan, so why not declare our commitment to funding a long-term multilateral presence in Iraq?

Unfortunately, Europeans have every reason to be suspicious of Bush’s intentions given his continuing silence on these three points. I figure that the reason he hasn’t spoken about them is either (a) the Europeans are right or (b) he’s afraid that speaking honestly about a post-war program would damage public opinion in the U.S. and hurt him politically.

Assuming (charitably, perhaps) that the answer is (b), it highlights the enormous difference between Bush and Tony Blair. Blair believes in this cause strongly enough that he’s willing to take an enormous political risk to make it happen, literally betting his prime ministership on the outcome. George Bush, on the other hand, isn’t even willing to put the cost of the war into his 2004 budget. Isn’t it about time that he put his money ? and his political credibility ? on the line at least as much as his junior partner is willing to?

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