War in Iraq has affected U.S. alliances
From Andrea Koppel
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The war in Iraq may have strained traditional U.S. alliances, but it has strengthened ties between Washington and some slightly lower-profile players.
The Emir of Qatar -- whose country hosted the U.S. Central Command during the war -- received a warm welcome from President George W. Bush at the White House.
"You made some promises to America and you kept your promises. We are honored to call you friend," Bush told the Emir.
Qatar will soon replace Saudi Arabia as the new home for U.S. regional air operations.
Another close friend -- Australian Prime Minister John Howard -- got a rare invitation to the president's Crawford, Texas ranch.
Washington has become a revolving door for dignitaries -- leaders whose governments remained in lockstep with the United States on Iraq.
Seven European countries set to become NATO members have been singled out for special attention.
"These East European nations were proud to stand up early and alongside the United States," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
"The president is unabashedly proud to say 'thank you' to those countries."
Bush has also been quick to reward or punish countries based on the support or resistance they displayed.
Secretary of State Colin Powell announced this week Poland will get a special deal on 48 F-16s and promises of future U.S. investment.
Meanwhile, Bush met this week with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and announced the U.S. is freezing assets of an organization that Spain says is the political wing of ETA, the militant Basque separatist group considered a terrorist organization by both the U.S. and Spain.
The president also signed off on a free trade agreement with Singapore but not with Chile, whose deal was delayed after refusing to support a 2nd U.N. resolution authorizing war with Iraq.
More symbolically, the White House decided not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday, and cancelled a presidential trip to Canada.
And U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft snubbed the press conference that followed a Justice Ministers meeting in Paris.
It is still unclear, however, what the consequences will be for traditional U.S. allies France and Germany after they refused to support the war.
Powell seemed to suggest the U.S. would not hold a grudge.
"That is all behind us now. Now we have to come together again," he said.
Powell's spokesman later suggested that there could be consequences, and hinted the Bush administration might try to exclude France from future key decisions in NATO.
Perhaps it was a warning that all may not be forgotten.