Mot juste

"U.S. agrees to international control of its troops in Iraq."

That's the headline of an article in yesterday's (UK) Independent in which Leonard Doyle and Stephen Castle report on comments from Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief.

"Everybody has moved, including the United States, because the United States has a real problem and when you have a real problem you need help." There is a "growing consensus" that the transfer of power has to be accelerated, he said. "How fast can it be done? I would say the faster the better."

I'm not sure what to make of this story. Solana may be speaking more of his hopes, or of his prescription, than of what we are likely to see actually happen. But his basic description of the situation — "the United States has a real problem and when you have a real problem you need help" — is certainly true.

There is also probably more hope than reality in his remarks about what the Bush administration is "learning" from its misadventures in Iraq:

"The forces will have to be there under a different chapeau. The more the international community is incorporated under the international organisations [the better]. That is the lesson I think everyone is learning. Our American friends are learning that. We will see in the coming days decisions along these lines."

Solana can't seem to resist the temptation to tweak his "American friends" about their coming late to a "lesson" that he and many of his fellow Europeans have been trying to teach for more than a year. He could have said that "the forces will have to be there under a different hat," but opted instead for the sting of "chapeau."

We will, as he says, see what decisions are made in the coming days, and whether Solana's predictions bear out.

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  • david

    Solana may have reason to tweak Aznar, friend of Bush, and so may tie his wishes about the future in Iraq to Spain’s political scene by pointing out the weakness of the American position. Solana’s pretty clever, Aznar’s got it coming, and of course so does Bush.