The dilemma how a conflict with Saddam Hussein should be solved and whether the military action in Iraq is justified split the Europe. Iraqi question caused not only conflict between the USA and some European countries but it contributed to the growing division inside Europe. Not a good sign in the time when European Union is stronger than ever and it is expanding to the Eastern Europe. While the European governments are divided in their response to war the majority of common people in Western and also Eastern Europe are overwhelmingly against the war. According to several polls the average 70-90% of people are against it.
But the thesis that Europe is divided into "Old Europe" and "New Europe" (Eastern Europe countries) is premature. The division is more complicated. Although France and Germany, two core countries of "old Europe" are indeed against it, some Western European countries strongly support the stand of the USA government. On the other hand the leaders of Eastern Europe countries are overwhelmingly in support of American was against Iraq. The divisions in opinions caused stalemate in fast decision making in NATO and European Union.
Countries of Europe which support the USA military action in Iraq are Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Netherlands and majority of countries of Eastern Europe. Some Eastern European countries are more eager than the other with American support.
I will talk in more details about Eastern Europe in a following article.
Countries which did not come out firmly on one side - Ireland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland and more. I believe that Portugal in lining towards approval to the war since it welcomed the presidents of the USA, Great Britain and Spain to Azores meeting.
Countries which are opposed to war: France, Germany, Russia, Greece, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg.
What are the main arguments of the European leaders and public opinion to oppose the war? The whole idea of so called "preemptive war" is very controversial. Even more controversial is the question whether in the case of Iraq we can justify using preemptive war formula.
By definition: "Preemptive war is justified by an imminent threat of attack, a clear and present danger that the country in question is about to attack you. In such a case a preemptive attack is recognized as justifiable."
For the opponents of the war - this war is seen rather as preventive war, an attack because of the potential danger rather than imminent danger. This is much harder to justify. They ask, why to pinpoint Iraq when so many other countries (North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, China, Russia) have weapons of mass destruction? Who will be next in line? Will the USA stop in Iraq or it will try to go further and impose its rules in the countries? Will this war cause a breakdown of traditional alliances among the USA and Europe? Will it affect the strength of NATO, European Union and especially the United Nations? Will it contribute to a bigger strength of the USA or it will rather be the beginning of the end of American superpower?
The book below was an object of several commentaries in the press. The author was invited to many political discussions. It is really interesting! Of Paradise and Power: America Vs. Europe in the New World Order by Robert Kagan.