Bigger picture important in international relations

Donald Rumsfeld is no doubt one of the most respected military strategists alive, but he definitely is no diplomat. Over the last couple of days, he has made some remarks about Europe that could not be more moronic, counterproductive for diplomatic international relations and plain wrong.

In more than one speech, Rumsfeld called the “old Europe” up to join the “new Europe” and thereby coined some terms that will haunt any endeavor the United States tries to undertake in or with Europe.

According to Rumsfeld, the “old Europe” is a Europe that is trying to stay out of conflicts. More specifically, he is describing Germany and France, two countries that have officially declared they do not approve of the proposed courses of actions in Iraq in the form that the United States proposed. The “new Europe” is therefore like Great Britain, whose government declared it approves of the actions and even wants to join the party actively.

The “old” does not refer to the Europe that we have learned about in history lessons. Long before the United States even existed, countries in Europe waged wars with each other. World War I and II are only the big ones, but there are countless others that lasted up to 30 years or more.

Nor does the “old” refer to the Europe that has overcome these feuds and in the last 50 years found a way to coexist peacefully and even form a unified government, judicial system and currency, thereby creating an economy that at the moment is doing a heck lot better than the one the Bush administration is trying to fix. (You can almost hear Clinton ask, “Was it broken?”) The Euro is now one of the strongest currencies in the world, and as of a few weeks ago, is even stronger than the U.S. dollar.

But, apparently Rumsfeld does not care about such achievements. He wants the “new” Europe and does not care about the fact that American soldiers died to overthrow the Nazis and put a democracy into place in Germany. He does not care that Germany was founded based on the U.S. constitution (albeit in a somewhat changed form) to do one thing more than anything else: Stop it from meddling in wars as it had for ages.

He even suggested that because Germany spoke out openly and declared its troops will not join an American-led attack on Iraq, its citizens “had nominated themselves” for the list that included Cuba and Libya.

Is this man insane? A country that has been a model of democracy for more than 50 years is like Cuba, a dictatorship? A country that has actively helped in the war against terror at least as much as Britain and has arrested several key al-Qaida operatives is like Libya, the country that for years was synonymous with international terrorism?

Rumsfeld needs to wake up and realize that adults can disagree even on as big a subject as how necessary a war is. This is not a bad black-and-white World War II B-movie inhabited by two-dimensional cardboard characters. It’s real life. “Without us” on one account does not mean, “We are out to kill you.”

I sincerely hope he realizes this before America loses the little credibility that it has left.

Sebastian Meyer is a junior majoring in environmental