Reginald Dale, editor of the policy quarterly European Affairs and a media fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, with this piece from last week, yeah I meant to blog it, but it got lost in the list of things to blog. But it is relevant now that Bush is in the middle of his visit:
It is not necessary for France and Germany to send soldiers there if they do not wish. What is needed is that the Europeans raise the tone of the dialogue far above the nickel-and-diming over such issues as where NATO should train Iraqis, and whether a few more trainers should be added. It is time to show genuine, overarching political support for what Washington is trying to achieve in Iraq and the broader Middle East, without petty, nit-picking reservations.
Washington has now concluded it erred in building a coalition against Iraq by assessing the value of allies simply in terms of the number of countries participating and the number of troops contributed. It ignored the vital importance of winning broad political and psychological support, even from countries that did not send troops, so the world could see the West united behind America.
That is what France, Germany, Spain and other European critics of the United States must now offer. Their governments say they want to put past disagreements behind them. If they mean it, they should not be calling for better relations one minute, and fomenting anti-Americanism the next.
Elevating the discussion and supporting America’s broad goals, such as freedom and democracy, need not mean “pledging allegiance” to the United States, which Michel Barnier, the French foreign minister, scornfully rejected this week. It means acknowledging that Europe and the United States face a wide range of common global dangers that they can best – perhaps only – tackle together.