Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Different job, different times

European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, in a New York Times interview --

Mr. Barroso said: “I was surprised by those remarks. They don’t conform to the facts. The distance Turkey started to show” from NATO partners and the West “started with the invasion of Iraq and the pressure put on Turkey by the previous U.S. administration” of President George W. Bush.

Above, Mr Barroso, then as Portuguese president, hosting the Bush-Blair war council on Iraq in the Azores, right before the invasion in March 2003. Not only did he not voice any qualms then, 3 months later he popped up in the White House to say --

Now you [George Bush] are taking great risks in the Middle East peace process. Let me congratulate you for that initiative, for re-energizing the peace process. I think the United States of America and Europe -- Portugal being a European country -- we have a lot to do together and I am very much looking forward to this opportunity to discuss with you, and always with the spirit of friendship that exists between the Portuguese and the American people, discuss all these ideas.

And we'll stand by you, because I think that what you have been doing is really great achievement. We have won the war, now we all have to win the peace. And I think that we are going to reach that goal.

One irony: the new Barroso, who recognizes the role of Iraq in damaging US-Turkey relations, is the right one. But this blind spot remains strong among most American conservatives, who strain for other explanations of the Turkish alienation even when it's staring them in the face.

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