OPINION

Lost values

The military showdown against Iraq is not only unavoidable. It is also a matter of time. The maneuvers of war submarines and fighter jets leave no doubt that with or without international consent, with or without a UN Security Council resolution, Washington will attack Baghdad with the backing of Britain and the concurrence of a few European spectators. It is no coincidence that, apart from deploying its military units around Iraq, Washington recently announced that it will not hesitate to use overwhelming military force and ultra-modern technology in order to carry out an initial blow that will paralyze the enemy. America’s overwhelming military superiority leaves little doubt over the outcome of the war. In a sense, one hopes that this will indeed be quick so as to limit the loss of Iraqi lives, which is bound to be heavy. The use of high-tech weapons will result in hecatombs, smart as the US bombs may be. However, an American victory will not close the new chapter of political history, a chapter that has been opened by the second US war planning against Iraq. Unlike the 1991 war, when President George Bush senior rallied the international community around a just cause against Saddam, the current US president has not only failed to ensure international consent but also to convince the other states of the moral legitimacy of this war. The failure of the Bush administration is even more remarkable considering the fact that the enemy is a crude dictator who is universally detested. Millions of people across the world and, more importantly, millions in the Western world see this war through the lens of realpolitik, as an attempt to impose America’s «industrialized» form of violence. People feel that American decisions are at odds with European values and interests. A quick military victory will not alleviate these moral concerns. This transatlantic conflict of values and distrust of Washington will linger after the end of the war and could well spark a trend toward division within Europe itself. Only one-and-a-half years have passed since the lethal terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. It is unthinkable these days that a European newspaper would declare «we are all Americans,» as the French daily Le Monde did the day after the disaster.