Of all the things the Europeans said to President George W. Bush about lifting their arms embargo on China, only one really mattered: They’re going to do it whether he likes it or not. Bush’s response was equally clear: If you do, you’ll be provoking me and the Congress at your peril.
All this was couched in diplomatic niceties, befitting the theme of reconciliation assigned to Bush’s European trip. But there was no mistaking the very real divide. The president has needlessly antagonized the Europeans, especially over Iraq, but in this case, he’s right: Lifting the arms embargo is a bad idea.