Letter from Holland

Iraq & war through European eyes

I live in a Dutch city where there aren’t many other Americans, and I am often asked to account for the actions of my native country. At the same time, I am in a position to observe world events through a European lens. In that regard, some things are clear. There is widespread doubt in Europe about the necessity of a war with Iraq, at least under the present circumstances. The challenge is to recognize and sort through the complex entanglement of interests at work in the European reaction. It is important to keep in mind that at the moment Europe itself is divided and struggling to find its own future. While the continent struggles with unification, its love-hate relationship with America also continues. In this context, the doubts about war find expression in the following questions. What actual threat does Saddam Hussein pose? (And is war necessary to counter the threat?) Why is it now suddenly so urgent to go to war with Iraq? Isn’t this war plan really about something else (desire for hegemony, oil, revenge)? These doubts are underscored by President George W. Bush’s style which alienates Europeans. Americans have shown a soft spot for Bush’s down-home Texan approach to things. No soft spot exists here for his antics.

The evidence that Europeans are not convinced of the need to take military action at this time is abundant. Disapproval of the bellicose intentions of the United States toward Iraq turns up...

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About the Author

Timothy P. Schilling studied English at Princeton and theology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, and earned a doctorate in practical theology at the Katholieke Theologische Universiteit te Utrecht. Since 2003 he has served on the staff of the Center for Parish Spirituality, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.