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Governments work together

President George W. Bush has been meeting this week with British Prime Minister Tony Blair about rebuilding postwar Iraq, as well as the role the United Nations will play in the reconstruction. As well as providing a forum to discuss the fate of Iraq, the meeting also served as a way for Bush to announce his support of an initiative by Blair to reconcile violent uprisings in Northern Ireland, according to The New York Times.

It remains to be seen how far Bush intends to go in support of the British plan, but Britain would probably be justified in asking for U.S. troops to keep the peace in the disputed region, if it needed them. After all, Britain went up against the United Nations and its own people to support the United States and to commit troops to the war in Iraq — a move that caused three highly ranked government officials to resign in protest.

But the same questions that antiwar activists have been asking about Iraq could easily be applied to Northern Ireland — with fewer answers. Questions of unprovoked U.S. interference in this region cannot be swept away by accusations of weapons of mass destruction, the way they can be with Iraq, because there has been no talk of the IRA acquiring such weapons.

This is simply a case of “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” between the United States and Britain. And the push for U.S. aid raises questions of how much of Blair’s decision to back Bush is based on the belief that the war in Iraq is justified, and how much is based on the desire for a strong ally which owes Britain a favor.

Regardless of the motive, and regardless of the worthiness of ending terrorism in Northern Ireland, the U.S. government must be cautious about how far to go in this enterprise. We cannot afford to go to each member of the coalition of the willing and bump off their foes, unless we want to make more enemies for ourselves.

University Wire — Ohio State U.