2004 January 07 Wednesday
Entertaining World Reactions To US Anti-Terrorism Measures

New security measures required by the United States including armed marshals on some international air flights and fingerprints on visas of all entering the United States have led to sniffing condescension from the European Union and outrage from Brazil over the fingerprinting requirement. (NY Times, free reg. req'd)

Michel Ayral, an air transport director for the European Union in Brussels, described the carrying out of the new security measures in a telephone interview as "unilateralist and impetuous."


"I consider the act absolutely brutal, threatening human rights, violating human dignity, xenophobic and worthy of the worst horrors committed by the Nazis," the judge, Julier Sebastiao da Silva, said last week in a court order subjecting all Americans entering Brazil to the same practice.

The Brazilians are getting back at us, that is for sure. Any American going to Brazil will be fingerprinted. Talk about tough. Talk about hardball. Those Brazilians are not to be trifled with. We understand that now. The US State Department, demonstrating its infinite capacity for losing sight of what is important versus what is funny, decided to complain to the Brazilian government about the ruling rather than laugh in their faces. What a waste of an opportunity.

So by this point you might be expecting the French to be haughtily sniffing at the Nazi, xenophobic, unilateralist, and impetuous American security measures. But the French interior minister complains the United States has not gone far enough.

On the other end of the spectrum are countries like France, which has long fought its own battle against terrorism. For Nicolas Sarkozy, the French interior minister, who owes much of his popularity to a tough approach to crime and terrorism, the American measures do not go far enough. "We share the analysis of the American services that we live in a very tense period and what is required is increased vigilance," Mr. Sarkozy said last Friday. "I prefer that we are reproached for having too many security measures than too few."

The article reports that Sarkozy's request for fingerprints to be included in not just visas but passports as well was turned down by the US State Department. The US government just won't face up to the tough job of fighting terrorism whereas France is ready to do whatever is necessary. Did some immigrant lobby or the Saudi Ambassador complain about the passport fingerprinting requirement? Did the State Department hold back out of fear of further outraging the Mandarins in Brussels? Can the French find the means to bring Colin Powell and George W. Bush to their senses?

Sarkozy believes in preemption before the threat is even certain.

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday supported that assessment, saying during a visit to Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris: "I much prefer to act too soon rather than too late."

Sarkozy thinks it is legitimate for one country to ask another country to increase its security measures.

France's Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy also defended the US measures. "When a friendly nation asks us to step up security on our side, no one can reproach it for that. I prefer that we be criticized for having too many (security) checks than for not having enough," he said in Paris.

Sarkozy has continously shown support for US flight cancellations even as Mexican President Vicente Fox has predictably found reason to fault the United States.

Friday, a spokesman for Mexico's President Vicente Fox questioned decisions by the United States on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day to scrap AeroMexico's Flight 490 from Mexico City to Los Angeles. The New York Times reported that one unnamed U.S. official said the British Airways flights were canceled Friday not out of safety concerns, but because the pilots refused to fly with armed marshals on board. The French interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, however, called U.S. requests "legitimate."

We can count on our tough French allies to stand by us even as Washington wavers in the face of Mexican and Brazilian pressure. But with Karl Rove busy attempting to placate immigrant groups and Muslim groups in an election year and with the Bush Administration still unwilling to take many prudent measures what we need is for Jacques Chirac to call up President Bush and tell him those immortal words: "Look George, this is no time to go wobbly".

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 January 07 07:52 PM  Terrorists Western Response

Alene Berk said at January 8, 2004 7:30 PM:

That was fantastic fun!

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