Monday, February 17, 2003

The popular press, and the hawkish blogsphere, paint the European portion of Dubya's "coalition of the willing" as including at least Britain, which can bring some real military assistance to bear (in addition to eight other governments who have been persuaded to lend moral support, whatever their population may think).

I had a chance to talk to a few brits over the weekend who paint, shall we say, a more nuanced picture --- one which I first saw in the blogsphere a few weeks ago at Beyond the Wasteland, which has an update here.

Briefly, the British Prime Minister is not elected as such, but rather chosen as the leader of his party by the rest of his own Parliamentary delegation. So, if the majority of his own delegation ever wants him out --- say, because he is pursuing a wildly unpopular policy which is likely to cost them all big in the next election --- they can mount a leadership challenge and get rid of him. This is what happened to Maggie Thatcher, in the wake of massive demonstrations over her wildly unpopular poll tax. And if the UK joins Dubya's war without a specific enabling UN resolution (1441 would not be good enough), given the scale of the recent antiwar marches, it is quite likely to happen to Tony Blair.

So, there is a possible future in which Dubya's war has managed to turn the major military powers of Europe, such as they are, including Russia, against us completely. If you don't see how that could be a problem, let Emma remind you that there are other potential trouble spots in the world where friends and coalitions might be useful....


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