Bonjour Bourget

At the Paris Air Show With the New ‘Merchants of Death’

A headline in one of the Salon's glossy daily news magazines said, "Raytheon Looks to Bush White House to Ease Access to New Aero Markets." This is not just a question of export licenses—for example, to Taiwan, to whom Vice President Cheney promised another multibillion-dollar package of weapons in April. A larger question looms for Western European leaders. They have been hard put to interpret mixed signals from the Bush administration—hawkish ones from Condoleezza Rice and Rumsfeld, dovish ones from Colin Powell. Those who finally got acquainted with George W. himself, in Madrid, Brussels, and Helsinki, were amazed that he did not seem so dumb after all.

But that's not enough to satisfy them. What does America mean by a missile shield? What's so dangerous about "rogue states" like Iran and Iraq and North Korea? Europeans are already doing business with them and plan to do more. They think they have benefited from the 1972 ABM treaty, which left Moscow and Washington targeting only each other. The possibility of Cold War Two, with China and/or Russia, alarms most Europeans. There's an editorial on the subject almost every day.

From the terrace: flying high with GE
photo: Philippe Fuzew
From the terrace: flying high with GE

And the prospect of Space War alarms European observers most of all. Is that what the Air Force general means when he says we "will enhance our expeditionary capabilities"? Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has called for "a four-star U.S. Air Force general to serve as an advocate for what could become a new space force." Is General Kostelnik due for promotion?

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