Today President Bush is meeting

Today President Bush is meeting with Prime Minister Chretien, trying to line up Canadian support for regime change in Iraq. Thursday he will address the United Nations on the same subject. The week will be largely devoted to trying to gain international support for the military effort that is already underway. What I consider remarkable about the media’s coverage of these events is the failure to acknowledge that what is motivating the Europeans’ (and others’) failure to line up behind the U.S. is, for the most part, sheer cowardice. The problem is not that world leaders doubt the necessity of deposing Saddam Hussein. Rather, the usual calculation is that President Bush will do the right thing in any event, and that by purporting to oppose military action in Iraq, a European leader can assure that future terrorism will be directed against the U.S. and not his own country. What we are seeing is a reenactment of the movie High Noon, with President Bush in the role of Gary Cooper, trying to round up deputies for the coming battle with the outlaws who are about to arrive on the train. The townspeople fully understand the danger posed by the outlaws, but they rely on the Sheriff, Gary Cooper, to deal with the problem because they are simply too cowardly to join in. President Bush, obviously, is playing the Gary Cooper role. Who is Grace Kelly? Tony Blair, I guess. And I don’t mean that to be in any way demeaning. It appears that Englishmen are among the last people–Europeans, anyway–whose national self-respect demands that they stand up for what is right and not rely on others to do their dirty work. The spirit of Churchill is not yet extinct.

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