Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Modest Good News
The good news out of President Bush's trip to Europe is that all 26 NATO countries have pledged to help train Iraqi forces.

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- President Bush, working to cement an era of stronger U.S.-European relations after the divisiveness of Iraq, hailed NATO's modest pledge to help train security forces there Tuesday, saying "every contribution helps."
The bad news is that the offer is much less dramatic than it sounds:
NATO's secretary general said all members of the alliance would help train Iraq's military. "All 26 allies are working together to respond to the Iraqi government's request for support by training Iraqi security forces, providing equipment and helping to fund NATO's efforts," Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told the NATO summit.

The mission comprises just over 100 instructors training senior Iraqi officers in Baghdad's heavily protected "Green Zone." More than half the NATO instructors are American.

Alliance planners hope to expand that operation to 160 instructors, which they say is adequate for the current phase of the mission. They hope for a further expansion in September to allow NATO to help run a military academy outside the Iraqi capital - if it can find the troops and money needed.

Meanwhile France's President Jacques Chirac made clear that "Old Europe" intends to defy Mr. Bush on China and Iran. And NATO is pressing ahead with plans to essentially scrap the Atlantic alliance in favor of a more Europe-centric approach.

China is of particular concern to Washington these days, since the Pentagon fears things could come to a head over Taiwan, which would trigger an American pledge to defend the "renegade" province against its mammoth owner.
From BBC: The EU imposed a ban on exports of military equpment to China in 1989, following the crackdown on democracy activists in Tiananmen Square.

China sees Taiwan as a renegade province, to be allied to the mainland by force if necessary. The BBC's business reporter Mark Gregory says the Pentagon is worried that at some point it might be called upon to defend Taiwan from Chinese attack.

China has the world's fifth largest national arms budget - though it is still dwarfed by the US military budget.

In other words, Bush did all that glad-handling to little effect. Craig Crawford (of the Hotline and MSNBC) said on Imus this morning that he didn't like seeing Bush be so nice to the "Euro weenies" and that he preferred to see him being mean rather than sucking up. I guess that's one way to look at it.

In one piece of good news, Chalabi's out and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, known to be a moderate Shiite, is apparently in as Iraqi P.M.

Meanwhile, nations around the globe, including our friends in South Korea, are beginning to dump dollars in favor of diversifying into Euros. Not good news for the still-falling dollar ...
posted by JReid @ 12:25 PM  
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