Europe and America: Size Matters

European often deplore the ‘democratic deficit’ in the European Union. This is only half the problem. The other half is the ‘efficiency deficit’. Both have been exposed by the Iraq crisis.

The World Today Published 1 May 2003 Updated 21 October 2020 4 minute READ

Richard Mayne

Member of the Council of Chatham House

‘Heat,’ wrote Laurence Sterne in Tristram Shandy, ‘is in proportion to want of true knowledge.’ He could have been referring to the invective in transatlantic divisions over Iraq. It echoed – and amplified – mutual misunderstanding. Like neighbours quarrelling across the garden wall, European and American disputants were arguing from different premises.

To America’s critics in Europe, President George Bush’s administration seemed hell-bent on war for a raft of dubious motives. A replay of the 1991 war? Revenge for September 11? Electoral calculation? A bid for Iraqi oil? The hope of a second American outpost in the Middle East alongside Israel? Such suspicions devalued official policy.

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