Defence Secy comments on Europe, France, Germany

(23 Jan 2003)
1. US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld arrives for news conference
2. Cutaway
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Donald Rumsfeld, US Defence Secretary:
“Well there isn’t anyone alive who wouldn’t prefer unanimity. I mean you would always just like everybody to stand up and say ‘way to go, that’s the right thing to do United States’. We rarely find unanimity in the world. I was ambassador to NATO and when we would go in and make a proposal, there wouldn’t be unanimity, there wouldn’t even be understanding, and we’d have to be persuasive, we’d have to show reasons, we’d have to give rationales, we’d have to show facts and by golly, I found that Europe on any major issue, if there’s leadership, and if you’re right and if you’re facts are persuasive, Europe responds, and they always have. Now you’re thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don’t. I think that’s old Europe. If you look at the entire NATO Europe today, the centre of gravity is shifting to the east, and there are a lot of new members, and if you just take the list of all the members of NATO and all of those who’ve been invited in recently, what is it, 26, something like that? You’re right, Germany has been a problem and France has been a problem, but – just a minute, just a minute – but you look at vast numbers of other countries in Europe, they’re not with France and Germany on this, they’re with the United States. Now, you cite public opinion polls – fair enough, political leaders have to interest themselves in where the public is and talk to them and think about that, and provide leadership to them.”
4. Rumsfeld leaving
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said France and Germany represent “old Europe” as the two countries have countered US threats of war against Iraq by pushing for a peaceful solution to the crisis.
During a news briefing at the Pentagon on Wednesday, Rumsfeld suggested France and Germany did not represent Europe as a whole, which he claimed was largely behind the United States.
The Defence Secretary’s remarks followed statements made by French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Wednesday.
Chirac said war was not inevitable, while Schroeder, who earlier said he would not back any UN resolution calling for war, said Germany and France “are entirely in agreement to harmonise our positions more closely in favour of a peaceful solution of the Iraqi crisis.”
Speaking at a historic joint session of the French and German parliaments, Chirac said both countries agreed that any decision to attack Iraq should be made only by the Security Council – after UN weapons inspectors have reported their findings on whether Baghdad possesses banned weapons.
Britain, the United States’ closest ally on Iraq, has said it would prefer Security Council support for any military attack.
But Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Wednesday that his country would back a US-led war without UN support if any countries imposed “unreasonable blockage” of a Security Council resolution.

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