Bush and Europe

by Henry on June 25, 2004

George W. Bush gave an interview to Irish television’s “Prime Time”:http://www.rte.ie/news/2004/0624/primetime/primetime56.smil that’s worth watching (the interview starts about 15 minutes into the clip). It’s the first time that I’ve seen him subjected to a hostile (if not extraordinarily competent) interviewer, and he clearly didn’t like it – in particular, he got very tetchy whenever he was interrupted. In the course of the interview Bush claims that he had most of Europe’s backing for the war in Iraq.

bq. Most of Europe supported the decision in Iraq: really what you’re talking about is France isn’t it. They didn’t agree with my decision. … Most European countries are very supportive and are participating in the reconstruction of Iraq.

This is misleading in a way in which John Kerry’s much-ballyhooed statement that many foreign leaders preferred him as a potential president to Bush is not. Kerry was undoubtedly correct, even if he wasn’t able to provide public evidence to back up his claim. Everybody knows that most Western European countries (perhaps even including Britain) would prefer a Kerry administration to another round of Bush. Bush, in contrast, does apparently have evidence to back him up – he could point to the various resolutions signed by Western and Eastern European countries on Iraq. However, these statements are for the most part, rhetoric. Most of the Eastern European countries that signed on were less interested in resolving problems in the Middle East than in avoiding punishment by the hegemon, and reaping the “political and financial rewards”:http://archive.salon.com/news/feature/2003/03/12/foreign_aid/ of a friendly relationship with the US. Remarkably few of the so-called “coalition of the willing” were prepared to put their money where their mouth was, by committing substantial numbers of troops to Iraq.

If Bush sincerely believes that the difficult transatlantic relationship is all about France’s posturing, he’s in trouble. Even those governments which nominally signed on last time would have extreme difficulty in doing so again – their voters wouldn’t stand for it. Bush is electoral poison; Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern will not have been pleased at Bush’s “expression of gratitude”:http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/front/2004/0625/1294716001HM1MAINBUSH.html to him for his help on Iraq. It’s almost certainly a vote-loser. The “conventional wisdom”:http://www.brookings.org/views/op-ed/daalder/20040620.htm among foreign policy wonks is that European leaders will not get much more satisfaction from a Kerry administration than they would from a second round of Bush. I don’t think this is true. Bush has managed to create such distrust among the voting public in Europe that it’s going to be politically impossible for European leaders to sign onto any major new transatlantic foreign policy initiative. Given the important threats (such as proliferation of nuclear weapons) that require decisive multilateral action, this is a very dangerous development indeed.

{ 44 comments }

1

BJC 06.25.04 at 5:33 pm

Very interesting interview…

“We’re a compassionate nation”
“Let me finish, please…”
“We’re a compassionate nation”
“Let… let… let me finish please…”
“Dead Iraki ? I don’t like that either, and this fellow Allawi is a strong leader”
“It would be better if you let me finish, please…”

The best is that the interviewer do not let GWB finish !

2

BJC 06.25.04 at 5:34 pm

Very interesting interview…
Some excerpts :
“We’re a compassionate nation”
“Let me finish, please…”
“We’re a compassionate nation”
“Let… let… let me finish please…”
“Dead Iraki ? I don’t like that either, and this fellow Allawi is a strong leader”
“It would be better if you let me finish, please…”

The best is that the interviewer do not let GWB finish !

3

Keith 06.25.04 at 5:56 pm

it must be confounding for Bush to deal with leaders who actually listen to their people, instead of just spouting vague platitudes and spineless rhetoric and then informing the populace to go to McDonalds and buy a Hummer while you’re at it while the the Brave and Steadfast do whatever they feel like.

4

q 06.25.04 at 6:15 pm

_Bush has managed to create such distrust among the voting public in Europe that it’s going to be politically impossible for European leaders to sign onto any major new transatlantic foreign policy initiative._

There has always been an ideological split across the Atlantic, whether it was US vs Communism or US vs Islam – the US needs a foreign ideology to fight to distract attention away from internal divisions. The Europeans will only have varying degrees of distrust for the world’s richest military power. The Europeans will sign because they always do.

Where Bush has failed is DOMESTICALLY – that the current ideological fight has coincided with some economic woes which his low-dollar low-interest rate policy is only struggling to fight. The collapse of the markets in 2000, and the massive pressure on finances in 2000-2002 has been countered by the Bush “New Deal” – massive government intervention: spending on arms: like Reagan’s “New Deal” in the 1980s. All Bush needs now, is a major terrorist attack on the mainland to win the election, and come 2008, when the boom is in full swing: Bush will be another REAGAN – demonstrating the power of US global domination and conservatism.

To weave ‘Domestic’ and ‘European cooperation’ issues, Kerry or Bush would need to argue that European Economic success represented an opportunity, not a threat, for US Corporate supremacy / hegemony. That requires the construction of a number of win-win scenarios, in which relaxation of US imperialism, resulted is a permanent economic boost to the US and Europe. Currently, there is a perception that a stronger Europe is bad for the US. Multilateralists therefore need to offer concrete EXAMPLES in which cooperation leads all parties to greater wealth, happiness and success. It is true that Iraq has poisoned the debate, but the situation is recoverable. Europeans must reach out to the US as part of this debate.

5

ernest 06.25.04 at 7:12 pm

My recollection is that Kerry just said “leaders” not “foreign leaders”. The line that inspired so many comments was a misquote corrected when the tapes were reviewed. Odd how these things acheive a life of their own.

6

Dan Simon 06.25.04 at 7:35 pm

If Bush sincerely believes that the difficult transatlantic relationship is all about France’s posturing, he’s in trouble.

Indeed–it’s about most of Europe’s posturing.

(And to be fair, to the extent that America or Americans express open hostility to Europe, it’s about America’s posturing, as well.)

7

Matt McGrattan 06.25.04 at 8:40 pm

Why is European distrust of, and disagreement with, Bush described as ‘posturing’?

Not that I’d dispute that some of the disagreement was posturing, but some of it was clearly not. Furthermore, many of the reasons given for distrusting Bush and opposing the war in Iraq seem to have been borne out as true.

8

Dan Simon 06.25.04 at 10:00 pm

Matt, I would expect a considerable amount of distrust for any leader, domestic or foreign, on the part of any sensible person in any country. I would also expect a fair bit of disagreement between any two people, let alone any two nations.

However, I would not expect such normal distrust and disagreement to interfere with a healthy relationship amongst a set of countries that would do very well to cooperate vigorously in a large number of areas in which they have clear common interests. To the extent that it does interfere with such cooperation–or merely provokes loud, false suggestions that it might–this reaction can legitimately be described as posturing.

9

Aidan Kehoe 06.25.04 at 10:15 pm

Dan: that attitude (that the rest of the world is mostly posturing) is why I’ve stopped arguing. Best of luck with your next election, I hope that being the most powerful country in the world doesn’t entrain any responsibilities your next administration will have difficulties handling. Oh, wait, hoping won’t come to much.

10

vonmises 06.25.04 at 10:16 pm

In the same interview, he pronounces Pakistan a democracy. Last time I checked, Musharaff came to power in a military coup, right? And he hasn’t submitted to presidential elections since. (OK, there have been parliamentary elections, but how much does this count if the country is run by an unelected leader?)

11

Dan Simon 06.25.04 at 11:08 pm

Aidan, one clarification: I’m not an American, and Bush is not my president. He seems to me to be doing a reasonable job, but then I felt the same way about his predecessor, as well. I don’t ask for much, really.

I can understand an American being severely adversely affected by one or another of Bush’s domestic policies, say, and getting rather upset about it. But as a non-American, how much have you really been affected by any of Bush’s policies, apart from allowing yourself to get all red in the face with self-righteous anger? And how many allegedly horribly suffering non-Americans are you really mustering all that vitriol over, anyway? As far as I can tell, Bush’s foreign policy hasn’t been too bad for foreigners at all–unless you’re big on posturing about principle, of course.

12

Aidan Kehoe 06.25.04 at 11:56 pm

Dan: In the short and medium term, I’m barely affected at all by the policies of whichever administration is in power in the US. That’s why I can afford not to argue.

If you’re not from the US, and you think the US foreign policy has been benigh to foreigners, then I admit I am a little confused as to things like how deporting a random Canadian citizen to Syria for the sake of torturing, how a journalist from a friendly foreign power was detained for twenty-six hours for, essentially, declaring herself a journalist and not a tourist and how foreigners without the advantage of being from a country that weighed in on the side of the US administration are probably being held indefinitely without decent grounds for suspicion, fit into your world view. But hey, people’s exposure to media differs.

I didn’t think great things of the previous incumbent either. I’m thinking much better things of him now :-) .

13

Matt Weiner 06.26.04 at 12:06 am

I think that everyone in the whole world, possibly most immediately Japan, is potentially affected by Bush’s handling of, say, nuclear proliferation issues with respect to North Korea. I hope we can agree on that, even if we don’t agree on our evaluation of that handling.

14

Dan Simon 06.26.04 at 1:50 am

Aidan: I think you’ve answered my question–your righteous fury is in fact being rallied on behalf of a tiny handful of people. I assure you that it’s been a very long time since any American administration has failed to inflict comparable harm on a much larger number of people than that. (I’m surprised you didn’t mention the hundreds-to-thousands of civilian casualties incurred during this administration’s military campaigns.)

Matt, I actually disagree. I know that there are people who believe in the existence of a magic diplomatic/economic/military formula that, if applied, would somehow persuade Kim Jong-Il not to do exactly as he pleases, and yet would avoid provoking the obliteration of Seoul. I’m afraid I’m not one of those people.

15

Tim O'Connor 06.26.04 at 2:35 am

Crooked’s observation that this is “a very dangerous development indeed” is revisionism, pure and simple. I lived in Ireland from 2001 to ’02 and was appalled at the response people had to 9/11, and later to the war in Afghanistan. Don’t let the posturing fool you. The day after 9/14/01 when the nation staged its “compassionate” Potempkin Village display they got right to sharpening their sticks for the “real” perpetrators of the terror attacks. Don’t believe me? Check out my exhaustive compilation of the post-9/11 media in Ireland. Pay special attention to the “letters to the editors” section to get the vox populi. The whole experience left me disgusted and I ended up leaving. They are a nation of ingrates. (I lived there in the 80’s too; don’t let anyone tell you that they were glad about Reagan.)

“Irelands case Against America”

http://www.geocities.com/irelandvus911/

16

Detached Observer 06.26.04 at 4:17 am

This post claims that Bush’s statement is misleading — but all it can offer up in support are conjectures about the “true” motives of some European countries — no facts.

Though dispensed with a remarkable degree of confidence on crooked timber, the statement that the countries which supported the Iraq war did so mostly for self serving reasons (and not, for example, humanitarian ones) is just speculation.

17

Lynne 06.26.04 at 4:42 am

Anti Americanism is being used by the EU as a unifying factor for Europe. I just wonder if the consequences will be worth it?

18

fatwhiteduke 06.26.04 at 1:59 pm

Tim,

Much Anti-Americanism in Ireland may well be crude and uninformed, and to that extent I can agree with you.

On a per-capita basis, I suspect more Irish people have personal experience of the United States than do any other Europeans. Culturally and historically, links with the US are stronger here too than they are for any other European country (except, possibly, the UK). Irish people are fairly well-informed about the US, and not just from the outside.

So it’s not a lack of familiarity that fuels whatever animus exists. I’ve often wondered what does. Here’s a couple of vague intuitions I want to put out there to see what people think.

The first is still a little unformed on my part, but I think the very closeness of Ireland to America exacerbates the problem. Just as rows within a family are the worst: because you feel you have the right to criticize, because that closeness almost creates a sense of betrayal when the other fails to live up to your expectations. (Is this not an element in your own reaction to Irish opinion, Mr. O’Connor?) And here remember that many Irish people (certainly myself included) grew up with a idealized, idolized image of America, where our relatives made good, which we contributed to. JKF was practically a saint here, after all, and America was the Promised Land.

A second reason, and one which I suspect did more to poison the well of goodwill towards the US than anything else, was US policy in Latin America during the Reagan years. At that time many Catholic clergy were supporting social justice movements in the area, in line with liberation theology’s “preferential option for the poor”. Very many clergy in the area were Irish. When US-supported regimes and terror groups killed and intimidated Church representatives (almost as much as they did union and peasant organisers), people in Ireland almost instantly got direct reports through their parish priests, their relatives, their friends out there. This was unfiltered by the media and was definitely not the coverage that might have appeared in the US. I suspect that for many the rot set in then. In that light, your implication that for some reason we should have been “glad about Reagan” seems odd. Reagan was part of the problem, the shadow-side of American power than goes ignored if not wholly unreported in the US itself. It’s a particularly solipsistic, US-centred point of view.

Of course, the closeness and idealization just makes the disppointment all the worse.

Finally, spare me your “nation of ingrates” remark, if you’re not going to say what exactly it is we’re supposed to be grateful for.

19

Henry 06.26.04 at 2:57 pm

Please don’t feed the troll.

20

O'Connor 06.26.04 at 5:03 pm

Fatwhiteduke, I greatly appreciate your candor. I will hope to achieve the same.

Yes, I’ve met many Irish people over the years who were fairly well-informed about the US, but just as anywhere else – as in the US for instance – I’ve found that most people are grossly uninformed. But unlike the US, many people in Ireland are uninformed while believing themselves to be informed, and that is a significant and underrated cultural difference. What I observed during my years in Ireland is that cant is easily digested and when regurgitated can pass for actual insight. I am not trolling here; I just really came to fully appreciate how propaganda operates during my research of the Irish media, and I do blame the Irish media for perpetuating a climate fueled by ideology and innuendo.

But I don’t want to give you the idea that I’m less harsh about the American media! It’s just that here (I’m in NY) people don’t walk away from a report on Ireland – if you can even find one – with much of an idea about anything. Ireland stories are now retained for their 1. entertainment value, and 2. (not very different) sentimental value – and the latter is hard to isolate from any story on the Troubles, if we can still call them that. (I believe that after 9/11 Sinn Fein realized that the sentimental/funding equation was finished, and so they changed their strategy. Try and find one US media story on that!).

So yes, it’s a deranged kind of familiarity that binds us and it’s perhaps due to our closeness “almost creat(ing) a sense of betrayal when the other fails to live up to … expectations.” I do recognize myself in your words, though I’m two decades past my adolescent idealizations of all things-Irish. (The latter is not a slight, but a full disclosure of my own sentimentality from when I was a child. We are middle-aged and educated, and long passed such things by now Fatwhiteduke.)

I congratulate you for remembering the Reagan years in Ireland so well. I agree with everything you say, and that “the rot set in then”. I wish more people had your clear memory. Since I was vehemently opposed to Reagan’s policies (at the time) and was living in a place with no newspapers or TV I’m hardly a reliable witness to what transpired in Ireland. But I talked to hundreds of people where I was living and the Reagan protests certainly did all seem to trickle down (pun intended) from that idea that Liberation theology was a given (I was also in an Irish monastery in the mid-80’s where discussion usually turned to LT, but I’m not confusing those conversations with what I heard on the outside).

You misunderstood me about Reagan; I’m not saying that people SHOULD have been “glad” about Reagan (that could be another conversation), but I’m saying that they weren’t, so let’s not hear the revisionisms that journalists fabricate – and the people after them – when it’s politically useful to make comparisons between how Reagan was perceived in Ireland and how Bush is perceived. To contradict Crooked’s assertion again, these attitudes aren’t a “very dangerous development” but have been around since I can remember. Certainly the Irish media is covering up its own recent past by pretending that the Shannon/anti-war protests are a new development about Iraq. If you lived in Ireland in 2001 then you know that’s not true. I’d hope your characteristic candor would allow you to feel my same revulsion at seeing history being rewritten for expediency’s sake.

I find it odd that you see a meaningful difference between how the clergy pursues what it wants people to believe and how the media does the same. Presumably, you were elevating Liberation Theology by observing that it was “unfiltered by the media”, but then failed to bring your McCluhanesque instinct to its logical conclusion. (And you are incorrect about US coverage at the time – Time and Newsweek, et al were very pro-Ortega, lavishing him with interviews and covering the development and spread of LT as a counter to Reagan’s ideas.)

Hopefully I’ve convinced you by now that whatever ails my eye, I do have some experience and some clarity on the subject; my dissappointments are not the result of any idealizations of Ireland.

As to my ingrate comment I’ll let it stand. That’s just the way I feel after years and years of living in Ireland. (I have examples up the wazoo, but that conversation will only be unhappy for everyone.)

21

Abigail 06.26.04 at 10:01 pm

O’Connor states, “But unlike the US, many people in Ireland are uninformed while believing themselves to be informed, and that is a significant and underrated cultural difference.” As an American, I do have “some experience and some clarity on the subject.” And, I say this is absolutely ridiculous. How else would you describe avid FOX News watchers other than, “uninformed while believing themselves to be informed”?

22

O'Connor 06.26.04 at 11:54 pm

Abigail, maybe you would agree with me in grouping uncritical FOXnews watchers who think they’re especially informed along with uncritical CNN watchers or New York Times readers, or NPR listeners who believe that they are well-informed. To me these psychologies are the same, differing only in bias. The international information in all of the above venues is next to worthless – I’m talking about quality and not quantity here, the kinds of things you realize only after living in a place, any place, for long periods.

One thing that pleases me about American culture (and there are more) is that I wouldn’t say that a belief that you can parse the souls of other peoples yet characterizes our culture on the whole. This is where we tend to be pragmatic and even bumbling in our actions. Americans freely admit they don’t know much about the world, whereas I’ve never heard a European admit any such thing during the time I lived in – and not merely visited – three European countries.

My point above was this: that Europeans and Americans are about equally informed and/or ignorant of each other, but whereas Europeans tend to believe that they are well-informed about Americans, the reverse can’t be said to be true. Ask any American what Ireland is “about” and you’ll instantly have all the evidence you’ll need. American public opinion towards France is low, but that will change after a time. Ask Americans about former and relatively recent enemies, the Viet Namese, the Germans, the Japanese or the Russians and you’ll be humbled by our unself-conscious forebearance and complete absence of holding grudges. If you need to ask whether we’d have any right to hold grudges then you are missing my point.

23

yabonn 06.27.04 at 12:24 am

I’m uncomfortable with the “posturing”.

There was a little article at vanity fair that recounted an often neglected factoid of the immediate pre-irak period : france tried to reach the usual, discrete, diplomatic, “i won’t move if i can reasonably ignore it” agreement. More or less : go ahead if you wish, just don’t rub it in and leave the un out of this, we’re not rubberstamping that crap.”

And, after all, it does, in a way, make sense, like, not to vote for something you, you know, find very,very dangerous and stupid, even if the big boy on the block says so, right?

But no. That simplest of explanations would be to admit that france had a point, however debatable. No one has a point arguing with Freedom, Liberty, Good, Right on earth. One is wrong for doing so. And eevul.

So it had to be some kind of… of…

-attention desire. That was the first one. “France just wants some attention”.

-envy for and ressentment of the us power (us version)

– resentment for losing its empire (uk , us version)

– and to a certain extend, simple posturing

More or less, the french had to be exotic enough to go against the big boy on the block (with all the potential business and diplomatic consequences it implies) for absolutely no rational reason. And we all know you can’t have a point arguing with Freedom and Justice : you’re just wrong.

I have the same weird feeling about the attention (wtf?) explanation, empire (w-t-f?) and ressentment (WTF?) explanation, than when i later saw the “spain caved in to the terrorists” (W-T-F?) explanation.

It’s not about ridicule or arrogance, it’s about not being able to simply understand what’s happening.

So while there was diplomatic action, and while that certainly involves some posturing, the “posturing france” thing is for me uncomfortably close to these other head-in-the-sands explanations.

24

Robin Green 06.27.04 at 12:44 am

One thing that I find irritating about your site, O’Connor, is that it merely quotes letters to the editor in Ireland – but it doesn’t criticise them directly. I am not sure what you are implying is supposed to be wrong with the letters you have quoted on that site.

Also, your posts suggest trollishness, because for instance, first you claim that “unlike the US, many people in Ireland are uninformed while believing themselves to be informed”, and then you claim that your claim has nothing to do with quantity – a direct contradiction. Or do you deny that “unlike in the US, many…” implies that fewer people are that way inclined in the US?

25

Tim O'Connor 06.27.04 at 1:29 am

Yabonn, I enjoyed your post, even when I was confused. It brings depth – it deepens – a lot like what I meant about living in a place for awhile. You allow yourself to look at things a hundred different ways. One thing that still amazes me (if it’s true) is the alleged Powell claim that the evening before he gave his WMD speech at the UN Villepin said “we’re on board” (or maybe it was “we’ll abstain”). Either way, was that story apocryphal?

Robin Green, I thank you for at least looking at my site long enough to have any opinion of it at all

That website is merely a compilation. People can make up their own minds from the material, and believe me there have been many shocked responses. If you find that the things people believed after 9/11 in Ireland are favorable then perhaps you will be happy there? My website is that simple. I didn’t want to get in the way of the material.

I’ll just restate that “informed-or-not” matter this way: the mere quantity of what people hear about other countries has little meaning. The truth is that Europeans and Americans don’t know very much about each other’s worlds. Americans will admit that they don’t know s**t, even when they’re NPR listeners. I admire that. Europeans don’t know s**t, but it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t think they know everything about us. Which is more obnoxious to you?

I’d hoped that we could get beyond accusations of troll-or-no-troll, but perhaps not.

26

yabonn 06.27.04 at 11:32 am

I really don’t know if the last minute call from chirac is true or not.

Jacques “do you want me to go back to my plane?” chirac is absolutely capable of this kind of last minute decision.

Otoh, if you believe france just wants some attention, it made sense to bet it will fold discretly after the big boy’s announce (… unless resentful of course).

27

Tim O'Connor 06.27.04 at 4:56 pm

Yabonn, considering the state of the French economy and the results of the recent elections I’d say they’ll fold on these accounts alone. But I don’t imagine it’ll be Chirac writhing in frustration as much as Villepin. He’s the one with the Napoleanic vision thing. Said so himself.

28

jamesg 06.27.04 at 5:03 pm

Another view from the Ireland’s Sunday Independant:

Petulant Coleman was no match for a political pro

THE people at RTE just can’t seem to make their minds up about George Bush. Their news bulletins consistently portray him as either a blithering idiot or a dangerous warmonger.

And yet, when this terrible man is gracious enough to grant them an interview, they fall over themselves like giddy schoolchildren allowed to stay up late with the adults.

Carole Coleman’s exclusive audience with the American president was heavily promoted by the station as a major journalistic coup. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a spectacular waste of everyone’s time, an embarrassingly one-sided contest that pitted a seasoned political pro against a lightweight in a red trouser suit.

The contrast with David Dimbleby’s grilling of Bill Clinton on Panorama earlier in the week was telling. The BBC man was tough but civil, and came away with a decent interview. Coleman was rude but weak, and ended up blowing the biggest moment of her career.

She started out by patronising the president: “The world is a more dangerous place. I don’t know if you can understand that.”

She made sure that everyone knew how distressing it was for her to see dead soldiers on her television screen.

Coleman then made the classic interviewer’s mistake of being more interested in her questions than her subject’s answers, consistently interrupting Bush when he tried to reply.

At first, the president politely asked to be allowed to speak. Then, when Coleman persisted with her petulant interventions (to be fair, she seemed desperately nervous), he simply sighed and proceeded to walk all over her, barraging her with facts until she ended up looking completely out of her depth.

Predictably, the following day’s Liveline featured several calls from listeners who were actually pleased with Coleman’s performance. Some of them said they were proud that an Irish person had finally “stood up” to the big bad man in the White House. With all due respect to these people, they completely missed the point. Any fool can do moral outrage. That’s not an interviewer’s job.

An interviewer’s job is to ask properly thought-out questions, listen respectfully to the answers and then try to probe any weaknesses in

Coleman showed herself to be an amateur by indulging in emotive cheap shots

their subject’s arguments. Instead, Coleman showed herself to be an amateur by indulging in a series of emotive cheap shots and then lacking either the guts or the brains to follow through.

The adulation she received from the right-on lobby is poor consolation for the journalistic credibility she lost on Thursday night.

Yesterday, it emerged that the White House had lodged a formal complaint with the Irish Embassy in Washington over Coleman’s behaviour. It also emerged that after the interview, the RTE woman asked if she could stay behind and have her photo taken with him. Being a far bigger person than she will ever be, the president graciously agreed.

Back in the studio, Mark Little (who would have done a much better job) repeated for what seemed like the umpteenth time that we’d just witnessed the first Irish television interview with an American president for 20 years. Well, lucky us. But next time, can we please send an adult to do an adult’s job?

Andrew Lynch

29

Tim O'Connor 06.27.04 at 5:13 pm

Irish Independent (subscription free):

http://www.unison.ie/

Irish Times (subscription fee):

http://www.ireland.com

Both newspapers have free comment threads accessed through their respective daily polls located under “breaking news” in each.

30

Tim O'Connor 06.27.04 at 5:34 pm

I should add that the Irish Times doesn’t print on Sundays while the Independent does, but under the name “Sunday Independent”.

The Independent is less anti-American over-all than the Times, but the “INDO” still regularly features such illuminaries as Robert Fisk, while the Times features the not-very-different John Pilgers of the world.

Combined with the rest of the assorted and local “intelligensia” it’s no wonder the Irish are confused about whether they hate all Americans or just Bush?

From the Irish Times, September 12, 2001:

“But there will almost certainly be a dark side. For there is in American culture a fundamentalism no less strong than that of those who may have plotted yesterday’s carnage. The tendency to divide the world between the forces of God and the forces of Satan, the elect and the damned, is, ironically one of the things that America shares with its most ferocious enemies.”

Keep in mind that if these sentiments were more widley known in the US the lucrative tourist trade could be endangered, or worse. US investment into Ireland – which more than doubles the US investment in China – could be endangered. If only Lou Dobbs knew the whole story!

31

Paddy Matthews 06.27.04 at 5:54 pm

I should add that the Irish Times doesn?t print on Sundays while the Independent does, but under the name “Sunday Independent”.

The Sunday Independent is a separate entity from the Irish Independent, with its own editorial staff and its own, quite distinctive, stand on most political issues. It would be fair to say that the amount of commentary, pretty much all of it from a strongly right-wing stance, is higher than in the Irish Independent.

32

Paddy Matthews 06.27.04 at 5:54 pm

I should add that the Irish Times doesn?t print on Sundays while the Independent does, but under the name “Sunday Independent”.

The Sunday Independent is a separate entity from the Irish Independent, with its own editorial staff and its own, quite distinctive, stand on most political issues. It would be fair to say that the amount of commentary, pretty much all of it from a strongly right-wing stance, is higher than in the Irish Independent.

33

Tim O'Connor 06.27.04 at 6:15 pm

Mr. Mathews, fair play. There are many cross-overs but I spoke out of turn to abbreviate the difference.

But the Sunday INDO “right-wing”? Does being moderate pass as right-wing nowadays?

I’m still trying to figure out why the Irish government has rewarded the Irish Times with “charity” status for so many years? Or is it now just that they’re their publishers or owners are recognized with the status since the recent reconfiguration?

And state-run RTE television is another subsidized wonder from the land of free thinking. There’s so much generous advice on RTE for Americans that I wish all Americans could watch it every day (and not just the brief cleaned-up edition that PBS broadcasts one day a week for our unwitting American ears).

34

Paddy Matthews 06.27.04 at 10:20 pm

Mr. O’Conor,

But the Sunday INDO “right-wing”? Does being moderate pass as right-wing nowadays?

The Sunday Independent is about as fair and balanced as Fox News. Gene Kerrigan is perched as a token left-winger on the back page, but the rest of the regular commentators are very far to the right by Irish standards, and I’d say most are right wing even by American standards.

Headlines from today’s edition:

“Honey-talking Bill lacks George’s guts and honour” (Mark Dooley)
“Sleazeball Clinton makes my skin crawl” (Gwen Halley)
“Leftward lurch wrong for Fianna Fáil” (Joseph O’Malley)
“Sometimes a little reminder of the curdled soul of socialism is needed” (John Drennan)
“Petulant Coleman was no match for a political pro” (Andrew Lynch)

I haven’t even bothered to wade through the egotistical morass of the Eoghan Harris column. Is he still working as Chalabi’s image consultant?

Anyone can do a Google and see what they get served up from the Sindo. Registration is required, but it’s free, and as far as I’m aware it doesn’t land you with much spam.

If you’re going to compare it with the Irish Times, I’d remind you that the Irish Times puts Kevin Myers on the editorial page almost every day, hosts Mark Steyn every weekend, and carries other less right-wing but still not “Irish Times liberal” columnists such as John Waters or Breda O’Brien. It also lacks the “pack attack” mentality of the Sindo.

I’m still trying to figure out why the Irish government has rewarded the Irish Times with “charity” status for so many years?

I don’t think the Irish government “rewarded” them with anything. As far as I’m aware, the conversion of the company into a charitable trust was done back into the early 70s as a tax dodge. There have been plenty of acerbic comments in The Phoenix about the lack of charitable bequests that this trust has made. But as far as I know, they simply took advantage of the existing legislation.

Keep in mind that if these sentiments were more widley known in the US the lucrative tourist trade could be endangered, or worse. US investment into Ireland – which more than doubles the US investment in China – could be endangered. If only Lou Dobbs knew the whole story!

So, have you managed to put manners on us yet?

35

Kevin D 06.27.04 at 10:57 pm

“US investment into Ireland – which more than doubles the US investment in China – could be endangered.”

Is US investment in China founded on the belief that the Chinese love America? I think not. I don’t have figures to hand, but I am pretty sure US investment in France has increased significantly sine the “freedom fries” spat. Business is business. American companies invest in Ireland for exactly the same reason Irish people work for them.

But Tim O’Connor has started me thinking – just when did we Irish decide that America wasn’t really that shining city on a hill? We mostly thought it was when JFK was President. Was it just because he was a Catholic?

I have no answer to suggest but I think it was a gradual process in which Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra and much else played a part.

36

Tim O'Connor 06.28.04 at 1:31 am

Mr. Matthews, I’ve enjoyed your posts. On the Sindo you have me at a disadvantage today. I went straight to it of course earlier to see what was in store and was frustrated to find the same list of headlines that you’ve posted. But I’m only frustrated in the realm of the conversation we were having; perhaps the moderate Sindo is finally running something sturdier up the pole after Bush’s proclamation that our differences about the war are over.

Otherwise, that their “regular commentators are very far to the right by Irish standards” isn’t saying a whole lot about what wing they really occupy. I disagree that “most are right wing even by American standards.” But what the hell, I enjoy it, so maybe the Sindo is “right wing” after all? (Full disclosure: I’m a lifelong Democrat and an environmental activist.)

So let’s look at Sindo’s competition. Granted that the Sindo has a “pack” thing going on, I think that the exceptions at TIT like Kevin Myers and Mark Steyn find themselves in a very tendentious editorial environment. But those writers sell newspapers; combined, they have an infuriating star-power. I tip my hat to their inclusion at the Times, but surely you don’t really believe that they reflect the paper’s bent? I think that you were just pointing out that each paper isn’t 100% anything.

Last week Steyn wrote that his column remembering Reagan “generated by far the most hostile mail from readers in Ireland”. I got a kick out of that, remembering what Ireland was like the day Reagan came for a visit.

I may be off-base, but I still think of the government as having in some sense “rewarded” the Times with their charitable trust status. Laws and legislation can be changed, but as far as I know Ireland still has the largest unregulated charity market in Europe. When I think of all the crap I heard on state-run RTE radio AND television, I’ll cherish my bias about the Times’ tax-status until a more reasonable explantion corrects it. Anyway, I never met anyone over there who could explain the ins-and-outs of it themselves (not that anyone should have been able to).

Is “business just business” Kevin D? I mention this Lou Dobbs fellow because he’s got a weeknight show on CNN asking Americans the same thing. Do businesses have an obligation to their countries of origin or is the bottom line all that should matter as American jobs lose out to outsourcing and tax shelters? I have to say that that China/Ireland figure gets peoples’ attentions. The ironic thing is that Kerry professes the same kind of protectionism that Dobbs does, which would be bad for Ireland. Bush is a free trader. I’m with Bush, though it look like most of Ireland would be happy with Kerry. Isn’t that ironic? Does the Irish Times have any comment on that yet?!

Kevin D, I’m glad to hear that you’re thinking about the question of our soured relations. Someone should be thinking about it no matter the results. They’re bound to do less of a disservice than this current revisionism telling us how it’s all just about Bush and Iraq.

But no one’ll ever manage to put manners on ye, so live it up! INTEL’s back in town!

37

Thorley Winston 06.29.04 at 5:03 am

Detached Observer wrote:

This post claims that Bush’s statement is misleading — but all it can offer up in support are conjectures about the “true” motives of some European countries — no facts.

I actually agree that Bush’s statement as parsed by Henry is rather misleading. However, it seems a little more clear when you read the entire transcript (click on my name for the link):

Q: Mr. President, I know your time is tight, can I move you on to Europe? Are you satisfied that you are getting enough help in Iraq from European countries? You have come together, you are more friendly now — but they’re not really stepping up to the plate with help, are they?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think, first of all, most of Europe supported the decision in Iraq. And, really, what you’re talking about is France, isn’t it? And they didn’t agree with my decision. They did vote for the U.N. Security Council resolution that said, disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. We just had a difference of opinion about when you say something, do you mean it.

But, nevertheless, there’s no doubt in my mind President Chirac would like to see a free and democratic and whole Iraq emerge. And same in Afghanistan. They’ve been very helpful in Afghanistan. They’re willing to forgive debt in Iraq. But most European countries are very supportive and are participating in the reconstruction of Iraq.

A couple of points. First, most European nations joined the Coalition which is a tacit sign of approval regardless of their motives. Second, IIRC most European governments (including France) voted for the UN resolution which the President rightfully sees as an ultimatum with the difference being that some governments (e.g. France, Germany, etc.) disagreed about actually enforcing*. It should also be stated that (contrary to Henry’s spin), Bush’s overall tone towards France is quite a bit more congenial (particularly in the last paragraph) than Henry would try to mislead you into believing.

* I think it’s also arguable that Bush believes (not without some justification IMNHO) that many of the governments that publicly opposed the decision to renew the 1991 hostilities with the Iraqi dictatorship, were posturing for their constituents but were glad he did it. France’s proclamation that they would send troops if Saddam Hussein launched a BCW attack on Coalition forces comes to mind.

38

Thorley Winston 06.29.04 at 5:04 am

Matt McGrattan wrote:

Not that I’d dispute that some of the disagreement was posturing, but some of it was clearly not. Furthermore, many of the reasons given for distrusting Bush and opposing the war in Iraq seem to have been borne out as true.

Really, what were the reasons given before the war and by whom that have turned out to be true? And which ones made by the same people turned out not to be true. Cites please.

39

Tim O'Connor 06.29.04 at 5:17 pm

Thorley, I predict that Michael Moore’s “fatcs” will be cited any minute now as the answer your challenge.

Man, do you have a great name!

40

Henry 06.29.04 at 5:39 pm

>Henry would try to mislead you into believing.

Would you care to justify that statement?

41

Tom Doyle 06.29.04 at 7:33 pm

Mr. O’Connor:
Your message is grossly offensive, utterly unjustified and indefensible. Your slanderous, bigoted, contemptuous and malicious attack on the people of Ireland is shameful and appalling. I can imagine no circumstances under which such intemperate, intolerant, and, if I may say so sir, ignorant invective against any ethnic or national group merits any response save indignation, outrage, and reprobation.
As an American, I am scandalized that you would publicly justify such derogatory, degrading, and disgraceful insults with fetid rhetoric invoking the murders of Sept. 11, 2001.

“NATION OF INGRATES???”
How dare you, sir.

42

Tim O'Connor 06.29.04 at 9:54 pm

Mr. Doyle,

I can fully appreciate your shock and revulsion on hearing the story I have to report, but if you’d been living in Ireland for all of 2001/02 as I had then perhaps your shock and dismay would be reserved for the widespread anti-Americanism you’d have encountered throughout the Irish Republic. After 9/11 – and I mean immediately after 9/11 – I no longer felt any need to offer the customary understanding and forbearance on the subject which I’d practised since the mid-80’s. By November of 2001, after months of feeling appalled by what I was observing, I decided to try and document the phenomenon as best I could for those, like yourself, who evidently have no familiarity with the topic:

“Irelands case Against America”

http://www.geocities.com/irelandvus911/

All the best.

43

Paddy Matthews 07.01.04 at 5:51 pm

But I’m only frustrated in the realm of the conversation we were having; perhaps the moderate Sindo is finally running something sturdier up the pole after Bush’s proclamation that our differences about the war are over.

The Sindo has been cheerleading for George W. Bush and the Iraq War since long before it started – try Googling for “Eoghan Harris” and “Chalabi”. It also has the standard tactic of trying to intimidate and bully anyone who disagrees with it on the subject by labelling them as being “anti-American” or “soft on terrorism” – not that that’s a new tactic for it; it has merely found a new topic on which to bully.

Otherwise, that their “regular commentators are very far to the right by Irish standards” isn’t saying a whole lot about what wing they really occupy. I disagree that “most are right wing even by American standards.” But what the hell, I enjoy it, so maybe the Sindo is “right wing” after all?

I think anyone who’s familiar with the newspaper would be well aware of its slant.

(Full disclosure: I’m a lifelong Democrat and an environmental activist.)

I’ll take you at your word.

So let’s look at Sindo’s competition. Granted that the Sindo has a “pack” thing going on, I think that the exceptions at TIT like Kevin Myers and Mark Steyn find themselves in a very tendentious editorial environment. But those writers sell newspapers; combined, they have an infuriating star-power. I tip my hat to their inclusion at the Times, but surely you don’t really believe that they reflect the paper’s bent?

The Irish Times is liberal on “social issues” and is leftish on foreign affairs. On issues which are going to affect its readers’ pocket books, however, it tends to be more centre-right. This is a newspaper, after all, which is edited by a former Progressive Democrat TD. (Note for non-Irish readers: the Progressive Democrats are a small right-of-centre “classical liberal” party.)

I think that you were just pointing out that each paper isn’t 100% anything.

No – I was trying to point out that the Irish Times, proportionately, gives more space to opposing viewpoints in its commentary team than does the Sunday Independent.

I may be off-base, but I still think of the government as having in some sense “rewarded” the Times with their charitable trust status.

I’m sure all those Fianna Fáil governments – especially those led by Charlie Haughey – were just desperate to give the Irish Times an easy ride. After all, it was so friendly to them.

They’re bound to do less of a disservice than this current revisionism telling us how it’s all just about Bush and Iraq.

Funny, isn’t it, how there was no need for a similar ring of steel to protect Bill Clinton from the rabidly anti-American population on his visits here during his presidency. Any ideas why that might have been?

But no one’ll ever manage to put manners on ye

I’m sure it’s not for lack of trying on your part.

44

Timothy O'Connor 07.01.04 at 7:05 pm

“Funny, isn’t it, how there was no need for a similar ring of steel to protect Bill Clinton… on his visits here during his presidency.”

I chalk it up to Old World impressionism. This Pew Research poll studying European impressions of Bush from the summer of 2001 gives us some idea that Bush never had much of a chance of gaining anyone’s respect there. (Please note the very few actual issues that were being contested).

http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=5

[Personally, I was always pro-Kyoto which was – according to Pew – the foremost European complaint about Bush’s foreign policy at the time and one of the reasons I voted for Gore. But that didn’t mean that hearing the complaints in Ireland sat easily with me since, as you must know, Ireland is still tied for being Europe’s biggest Kyoto violator. I don’t know about the press coverage now, but in 2001 Irish people that I spoke with had no idea about their own Kyoto obligations nor whether Ireland had any real ability or even intention of meeting them. It’s always so much simpler and gratifying to take aim at big bad Uncle Sam. I just think that if Bush was going to be villified in mid-2001 for his number 1 foreign policy catastrophe then the Irish conversations I was hearing around Dublin should have displayed some cognizance of Ireland’s own problems with the treaty. They never did. I am relying on your own good memory of the “climate” back then, and in Dublin specifically.]

Our varying impressions of the Irish Times and Sunday Independent notwithstanding, I do find you an intelligent and worthy interlocutor Mr. Matthews. You bring out the best that Ireland has to offer (presuming that you’re writing out of the Irish milieu.).

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