War on France! Huzza!

by Daniel on September 18, 2003

Maria’s post on the Adam Smith Institute blog1 reminded me of an old joke from the ASI’s halcyon days of the 1980s when Sir Keith Joseph was at the heart of Margaret Thatcher’s government pushing a serious Hayekian agenda. In those days, the role of the ASI was described as “taking ideas from the edge of lunacy to the edge of policy”. I only thought of this joke after reading Thomas Friedman’s latest effort in the New York Times (I actually read it by mistake; I thought that Krugman had shaved off the bottom half of his beard and if you look at the two photos side by side it’s an understandable error).

Time was when a man who seriously talked about the likelihood of imminent uprising by the French Muslim population and called articles things like “War With France” could safely be laughed at, or at least confined to the WSJ’s increasing eccentric online editorial supplement. Time no longer, apparently. Oh dear. Friedman is possibly wrong, by the way, in claiming that “France, with its large Muslim minority”, would necessarily see its “social fabric” hugely affected by Islamic militancy; as a French acquaintance pointed out to me recently, the Islamic population of France is heavily concentrated in metropolitan Paris and Lyon, and France is actually a country of small towns. But mistaking Paris for France is a common enough error (particularly by Parisians) so I’ll let that pass.

No, what really struck me as stand-out stupid in the Friedman piece was the moral indignation against France’s unwillingness to stick its hand in its pocket (still less, to put French soldiers at risk of death) to finance the consequences of a war it never wanted. For crying out loud. It is a fundamental and fairly sound principle of public finance that one should not write cheques from the public purse without maintaining some control over how the money is spent. If someone thinks that things are different in the case of Iraq, and I can see how a case could easily be made, the onus is on Friedman to make it. And it is usually rhetorically effective to tone down one’s high-handed moral condemnation of someone while one is asking them for money.

Friedman is right on one thing, however. The French proposal for some half-baked Chalabi/UN arrangement to govern Iraq is pretty laughable as a policy proposal. What he doesn’t seem to realise, though, is that it isn’t a policy proposal. It’s a diplomatic fig-leaf put up in order to allow the Americans to save some face from a situation which is, at its base, a blunt refusal. The French don’t want any situation to arise in which they end up committing money or troops to the Iraqi occupation.

“Why don’t the French want to help the Iraqis?”

The question is ill-posed. You might as well ask “why don’t the French want to support the International Perpetual Energy Machine?”. There is no proposal being offered by anyone for the French to help the Iraqis.

What do I mean? Look at it this way. As a decent first approximation, every troop committed by France allows an American soldier to be brought home. One can argue about the need for new troops, but there are no actual proposals to increase troop numbers in Iraq, so this approximation holds for the time being. Also as a decent first approximation, it is fair to assume that every dollar of financial assistance committed by France would allow the US budget request for money to finance Iraq to be reduced by a dollar. So, one would account for the net effect of France committing $2bn and 2,000 troops would be as follows:

France: debit cash $2bn (Iraq), debit troops 2,000 (Iraq)

Iraq: credit cash $2bn (France), credit troops 2,000 (France)
Iraq: debit cash $2bn (USA), debit troops 2,000 (USA)

USA: credit cash $2bn (Iraq), credit troops 2,000 (Iraq)

You do not have to be an ace designer of tax schemes, or even a qualified accountant, to see that the Iraq transactions cancel in this case; Iraq is being used as an “off-balance sheet vehicle” for a transfer of blood and treasure to the USA. This is the problem. It looks very much to the naïve outsider as if France, the EU, and the rest are not being asked to provide help to Iraq; they are being asked to provide aid to the USA, to reduce the political cost of a decision they advised against, to an administration that does nothing but insult them.

The French, that ultimate nation of realists, are unlikely to be under any illusions on the subject of whether they have any real prospect of material involvement in the post-war environment. All that’s going on, is that they object to picking up the tab.

1Who, remaining on the topic, appear to have removed a reference to France in their post on EU agricultural subsidies but declined to publish the comment I made on their “moderated” board explaining why it was ignorant, thanks guys.

Update: Yer man from the ASI has just got in touch and reasonably fairly pointed out that the comment would have looked pretty weird once they’d changed the offending passage. He also informs me that I am the only person to have had a comment blackballed by the ASI blog so far! How badass is that?

{ 45 comments }

1

John James 09.18.03 at 2:23 pm

Your simple economic equation ignores any positive outputs that may arise from investment in Iraqi security.

If a secure Iraq is achieved, it may (I’m not predicting) result in a global public good: a more stable middle east, and a steady supply of oil. This may be a long shot, but its the only economically rational explanation for the invasion.

Both the US, France and everyone else stands to benefit from this outcome. We are therefore really dealing with the question of who should finance this public good. You obviously think it should be the Americans and British alone, because it was they who concocted the whole affair. I think, however, that a reasonable argument can be made for French investment on the basis that they will directly benefit from Iraqi stability. They have, of course, the option of free riding on US/British efforts, but that is hardly a morally defensible reason for non-intervention.

Furthermore, there is reason to believe that a more broadbased international participation in Iraq will actually reduce the overall cost of achieving security. A decisive international settlement on the future of Iraq is likely to reduce the present high levels of opposition militancy, and hence reduce security costs. It would send a signal to militants that the defeat of Saddam is a done deal and that there is no point in contuining to oppose the new Iraqi authority. So, the very act of French particpitation is likely to lower the security bill.

It is therefore not a straightforward double entry bookkeeping exercise.

2

Fred Arnold 09.18.03 at 2:39 pm

These folks in the White House are actually trying to invoke the old domino theory in defense of their failed grab at the empire torch. Friedman has, I’m afraid, allowed his sympathy for the Arab situation to blind him to the practical issue at hand.

We can no more influence the eventual government in Iraq (if it even survives as a contiguous territory) than we were in South Vietnam.

Get out now, give it over to the UN, send Shrub & Co. back to the minors, and apologize to the world after November ’04 for this country’s temporary insanity.

Or re-elect this insane crew, stay in Iraq for 4 more years, bleeding people and cash all the way, and end up getting out in ’09. I’ll let you take a stab at which option Bechtel and Halliburton prefer.

3

Walt Pohl 09.18.03 at 4:39 pm

I love the phrase “Why doesn’t France support the International Perpetual Energy Machine?” It’s like a Situationist Internationale slogan.

4

Thomas 09.18.03 at 4:40 pm

The French need not offer troops or treasure. They just need to get out of the way. They refuse. Their refusal isn’t made more palatable by their attempt to obscure their refusal. What’s so difficult about understanding Friedman’s column, with that as the context?

What France proposes is that the US should continue to do the hard work in Iraq–troops and cash–and the French should get a vote on what happens.

5

jamie 09.18.03 at 5:15 pm

“The French need not offer troops or treasure. They just need to get out of the way. They refuse. Their refusal isn’t made more palatable by their attempt to obscure their refusal. What’s so difficult about understanding Friedman’s column, with that as the context?”

I think the point is that they are out of the way and mean to stay there. The French did nothing to stop the US and UK fighting a war in Iraq. In fact, they made sure that the UN as a body was “out of the way” too. In this they had the support of many of the member states. And now they seem intent on keeping out of the way by asking for terms unacceptable to the United States as a price for their involvement.

I can’t understand why anyone thinks that the French or any other nation in the war sceptic coalition has an obligation to be co-operative now.

6

dsquared 09.18.03 at 5:41 pm

The French did nothing to stop the US and UK fighting a war in Iraq

A point which bears repeating; they even allowed the US to overfly them.

7

Abiola Lapite 09.18.03 at 5:46 pm

“I can’t understand why anyone thinks that the French or any other nation in the war sceptic coalition has an obligation to be co-operative now.”

Then why were they not so long ago loudly demanding that America bring the issue of Iraq’s reconstruction to the United Nations, just as the US has indeed ended up doing?

The French can’t have their cake and eat it – if they wanted no part in the responsibilities involved in getting Iraq into shape, they shouldn’t have been whingeing so loudly for a say in how the project was to be executed. Daniel Davies is only rationalizing French obstinacy because he is emotionally invested in America’s failure in Iraq. Tom Friedman has it exactly right.

8

Thomas 09.18.03 at 5:50 pm

But the French aren’t out of the way. Rather, they hold a Security Council veto and mean to use it. They haven’t been asked to contribute. The US doesn’t even need a ‘yes’ vote from them. But still they threaten to veto.

9

dsquared 09.18.03 at 6:48 pm

Abiola: nice try.

Thomas: If the French are standing in the way, what are they in the way of?

10

Thomas 09.18.03 at 7:19 pm

What are they in the way of? The US-sponsored resolution in the UN.

11

phil 09.18.03 at 7:28 pm

Every dollar or euro France sends to Iraq goes to the BushCheney2004 campaign. So they can either bail Bush out now or wait another year and half for Clark’s inauguration.

Abiola: Bush shat in the punch bowl and is now asking everyone else to drink. France originally indicated that they might be willing to drink as long as there weren’t any turds bobbing up and down in the bowl. France has it right, and Friedman is just another turd drowning in the bowl.

12

dsquared 09.18.03 at 7:30 pm

So they’re “standing in the way of” agreeing to contribute blood and treasure? In the same way, I might accuse you of “standing in the way of” the Crooked Timber Christmas Party at the Paris Ritz due to your selfish “veto” against my proposal that the commenters pay for the drinks.

13

Harry Tuttle 09.18.03 at 7:43 pm

Then why were they not so long ago loudly demanding that America bring the issue of Iraq’s reconstruction to the United Nations, just as the US has indeed ended up doing?

Because they realized long ago that that was the only possible way to succesfully pull it off. How a year of ignorant obstinance on our part somehow obliges France to support us now that we’ve made halfhearted (at best), after-the-fact attempts to go to the UN escapes me. This attitude makes us seem like spoiled children. Talk about whinging…

The French can’t have their cake and eat it – if they wanted no part in the responsibilities involved in getting Iraq into shape, they shouldn’t have been whingeing so loudly for a say in how the project was to be executed.

Up is Down! Black is White! It was because we didn’t listen to their ‘whingeing’ that they want no part in the responsibility of fixing our clusterfuck. C’mon! Your point is absurd. WE are the ones who want our cake and want to eat it too (Gods above! I HATE that senseless cliche).

14

Thomas 09.18.03 at 7:50 pm

dsquared–It seems you’ve misunderstood both the current situation and my explanation. They haven’t been asked to contribute blood or treasure. The UN resolution would not obligate them to. So the UN resolution they’re standing in the way of is not as you’d describe it, and not at all analogous to your example. The US sponsored resolution would supply a framework for those who wished to work through the UN to do so. It would not–I repeat myself here, because this is important, and you’ve missed the point–obligate the French to supply troops or money.

15

Matthew 09.18.03 at 9:01 pm

I suppose after enough people point out that France, by gumming up the works of a new UN resolution, is blocking peacekeeping contributions by countries OTHER than France, Mr. Davies is going to switch to telling us that France, in a stroke of magnaminity, is protecting the balance sheet of those countries too.

16

jamie 09.18.03 at 9:17 pm

“I suppose after enough people point out that France, by gumming up the works of a new UN resolution, is blocking peacekeeping contributions by countries OTHER than France…”

…well, nothing’s stopping them joining the coalition of the willing along with the mighty Fijians, et al. The Japanese are supposed to say “I’ll think about it” when they mean “no.” “Take it to the UN and we’ll think about it” is the diplomaspeak version. I think the French are doing themselves favours with a number of nations by getting them off the hook in this way.

17

David W. 09.18.03 at 9:39 pm

Regarding France’s possible veto of a new U.N. resolution on Iraq, it may simply be that what the U.S. wants is still not to their liking, and has nothing to do with whether or not they just want to be obstructionists. Perhaps Colin Powell could still reach a compromise with the French on a timetable for a new Iraqi government, especially if the political situation in Iraq deteriorates. I don’t think the French are likely to help give the stamp of U.N. approval for something that they don’t approve of themselves.

18

Scott Martens 09.18.03 at 9:39 pm

Thomas, if the White House doesn’t think that getting a UN resolution would lead to getting other countries to contribute blood and money to US control of Iraq, why in God’s name are they pressing to get a resolution? If the US got a resolution authorising its control of Iraq, I will bet any sum you like that the very next day, John Negroponte would be putting his hand out at the General Assembly asking for cash.

Abiola, if the US was really serious about getting other countries to rebuild Iraq, don’t you think they would call the French bluff and agree to a UN mandate government instead of Paul Bremer. I keep hearing that the US doesn’t want a colony in the Middle East, but I don’t see the US willing to turn control over to internationals.

19

Thomas 09.18.03 at 9:44 pm

jamie–Should we take it then that you find the following statement irrelevant: No, what really struck me as stand-out stupid in the Friedman piece was the moral indignation against France’s unwillingness to stick its hand in its pocket (still less, to put French soldiers at risk of death) to finance the consequences of a war it never wanted

20

Thomas 09.18.03 at 9:48 pm

Scott–Are you trying to be clever? The question isn’t whether “other countries” will contribute blood and money, but whether France would be required to do so if it didn’t veto the resolution. It wouldn’t.

21

amoeba 09.18.03 at 10:21 pm

I doubt Friedman has spent much time actually listening to what the Franch have to say. Unfortunately, this seems to be the case with most of the US media these days. I listened to an interview with the French ambassador to the US on PBS yesterday. It was very clear -he said that they were requesting that a symbolic gesture be made that would confer more legitimacy to the council . He was under no illusions that power could be immediately transferred but he indicated, rightly in my opionion, that putting the iraqis in front would help the chances of success. He used the word ‘symbolic’ several times. When is the last time you heard an iraqi official on TV talking about reconstruction? We see only Bremer and Rumsfeld. It would make more sense to see more Iraqis and lower the profile of the US administrators.

22

john c. halasz 09.18.03 at 10:31 pm

i think the french point is this: it is only on an international/multilateral basis that iraq can be pacified/reconstructed, since for this to happen the process has to have legitimacy in a majority of iraqi eyes. this is the “international public good” at stake. the u.s.a. has to stand down, but, of course, it won’t.

23

jamie 09.18.03 at 10:47 pm

“Should we take it then that you find the following statement irrelevant: No, what really struck me as stand-out stupid in the Friedman piece was the moral indignation against France’s unwillingness to stick its hand in its pocket (still less, to put French soldiers at risk of death) to finance the consequences of a war it never wanted”

No, not really. The French didn’t want the war and they don’t want responsibility for the consequences of it. This shows that the French government have a certain insitutional common sense and it fits in with the general pattern of Gaullist attitudes, so it’s obviously a position Chirac would be comfortable with. Another agenda, IMO, was to reduce Amercian influence in the course of the EU, but that’s for a different post.

Anyway, a lot of other countries felt and feel the same way, so it’s also a leadership opportunity. Two for the price of one for canny Jacques.

24

Thomas 09.19.03 at 12:14 am

jamie–Friedman wouldn’t disagree with you on your conclusion: this is certainly a “leadership” opportunity for France. France is, as Friedman argued, leading the way in opposition to the US position. That the opposition can’t, as you admit, be justified by reference to French interest in its own money or troops only means that French “leadership” is motivated by something else. IOW: You agree with Friedman, but find it a positive development.

25

Tim 09.19.03 at 3:18 am

France, like America and Britain and lots of places, is being asked to fund the Bush plan for the reconstruction of Iraq. This plan is dangerous, divisive, and, if it benefits anyone at all, will only benefit America. France would be insane to agree to it, and irresponsible not to veto it.

26

dsquared 09.19.03 at 6:57 am

The question isn’t whether “other countries” will contribute blood and money, but whether France would be required to do so if it didn’t veto the resolution. It wouldn’t

You are clearly as naive as a lickle newborn fawn, how sweet. Of course France would have to. France, unlike a certain North American power I could name, takes the UN seriously and wants it to work. To refuse to contribute to a peacekeeping force established by Security Council resolution just because you didn’t like the result would be as damaging to the UN as … you can fill in the blanks. It would be a diplomatic impossibility for France to simply not contribute.

I suppose after enough people point out that France, by gumming up the works of a new UN resolution, is blocking peacekeeping contributions by countries OTHER than France

Congrats, you’ve outdone Friedman in sheer boneheadedness. What are the Royal freaking Marines doing out there if “peacekeeping contributions” (which, remember, are “contributions” to the USA, not Iraq) from other countries are impossible?

27

albert champion 09.19.03 at 7:49 am

the french have it right. there is no reason for them to invest either their cash or their sons & daughters. to save usa from the bush follies.

loooong memories. 1954, dien bien phu, france asked ike for real assistance to defeat the viet minh. any moderate investment of us aerially deposted napalm and munitons would have saved the legion d’etrangeres. ike said no. you know the outcome.

and then there was the algerian war. the usa let the french stew in that nightmare because the usa wanted algeria with its hyrdocarbon richness cut loose. in fact, there are a number of observers who think there is considerable evidence that the usa intelligence services aided the algerian insurrectionists.

and then there was the secret army organization. no question that the usa intelligence services aided them in their attempts to assassinate degaulle.

i think that the french are quite entitled to let the usa twist in the wind.

a votre sante

28

albert champion 09.19.03 at 7:50 am

the french have it right. there is no reason for them to invest either their cash or their sons & daughters. to save usa from the bush follies.

loooong memories. 1954, dien bien phu, france asked ike for real assistance to defeat the viet minh. any moderate investment of us aerially deposted napalm and munitons would have saved the legion d’etrangeres. ike said no. you know the outcome.

and then there was the algerian war. the usa let the french stew in that nightmare because the usa wanted algeria with its hyrdocarbon richness cut loose. in fact, there are a number of observers who think there is considerable evidence that the usa intelligence services aided the algerian insurrectionists.

and then there was the secret army organization. no question that the usa intelligence services aided them in their attempts to assassinate degaulle.

i think that the french are quite entitled to let the usa twist in the wind.

a votre sante

29

Doug 09.19.03 at 10:01 am

Hard-nosed question: Is it in the French interest for American efforts in Iraq to fail?

If you answer yes, then you’ve agreed to Friedman’s case.

If you answer no, then you’ve got to come to grips with what France can and should do to help those efforts succeed.

The course “We want the efforts to succeed, but we don’t want the US to get any credit for it” will be extremely difficult to steer, even for a leader less ham-handed than Chirac. Such a course will breed no shortage of ill will among allies and partners. (Even assuming you don’t do things like tie up a decade-long negotiation over Libya so your own people can get more money.) And you still have to choose whether your top goal is making the US look bad or making transition in Iraq succeed.

+++

I wonder if anyone knows whether the US/EU contributions to peacekeeping and reconstruction in Bosnia netted out to a constant sum, with only the proportions contributed changing over time, or whether engagement by one or the other led to a net increase of resources committed.

I ask because this would shed light on Daniel’s otherwise unsupported assumption that there is a lump of support for Iraq, and it’s all just a question of who pays what share of that lump.

Or maybe, just maybe, French policy makers could show some of the generosity the US is constantly called on to show, and support something they’re not keen on because it’s in their long-term interest.

30

Doug 09.19.03 at 10:35 am

Looking through this morning’s Frankfurter Allgemeine, it appears that Daniel’s assertion, “The French don?t want any situation to arise in which they end up committing money or troops to the Iraqi occupation,” may already be overtaken by events.

Third paragraph from Michaela Wiegel’s article out of Paris: “France has the highest interest in stronger participation in the process of reconstruction in Iraq and hopes to increase its influence in the strategically important region through the United Nations.” Last paragraph: “With the condition of a clear UN mandate, France would be pprepared to contribute up to 10,000 troops to a UN protection force. That was indirectly confirmed by a spokesman for the Defense Ministry on Thursday, who did not contradict the number.”

31

Andrea Harris 09.19.03 at 12:09 pm

Amoeba said:

“I listened to an interview with the French ambassador to the US on PBS yesterday. It was very clear -he said that they were requesting that a symbolic gesture be made that would confer more legitimacy to the council… He used the word ‘symbolic’ several times.”

Good lord, of course he used the word “symbolic”! He’s French.

32

jamie 09.19.03 at 1:47 pm

” Friedman wouldn’t disagree with you on your conclusion: this is certainly a “leadership” opportunity for France. France is, as Friedman argued, leading the way in opposition to the US position. That the opposition can’t, as you admit, be justified by reference to French interest in its own money or troops only means that French “leadership” is motivated by something else. IOW: You agree with Friedman, but find it a positive development.”

As I understood his article, his notion was that France should use its status as leading refusenik to chivvy all the others into line behind the US format for international involvement. I don’t believe that not doing so constitutes emnity. It does provide cover for others in the coalition of the reluctant, hence the leadership opportunity. But this arises naturally out of these nations actual self interest and can be justified in those terms. There’s no contradiction involved.

The bottom line is that the US and the UK have insisted on taking both power and responsibility in Iraq. No-one’s going to want to share the responsibility without sharing the power unless they want to be seen to be close to the US for other reasons (eg, as a counterweight to the Franco-German axis within an expanded EU).

The sensible and cynical thing for the US to do if it really wants interntional involvement on its own terms would be to let Iraq rot until it threatens to destabilize Saudi Arabia. Then it’s a war for everybody’s oil.

33

dsquared 09.19.03 at 2:15 pm

If you answer no, then you’ve got to come to grips with what France can and should do to help those efforts succeed.

As I explained in the article, nothing France does or refuses to do can have any material effect on whether these efforts succeed. The only help France can give is to make eventual success or failure less politically and economically painful for the current governments of the USA and UK.

34

Dan Hardie 09.19.03 at 2:35 pm

>Friedman is possibly wrong, by the way, in claiming that “France, with its large Muslim minority”, would necessarily see its “social fabric” hugely affected by Islamic militancy; as a French acquaintance pointed out to me recently, the Islamic population of France is heavily concentrated in metropolitan Paris and Lyon, and France is actually a country of small towns.<

I’m rather hoping this is irony, since there are at least 4 million Muslims in a French population of 58 million- too many to ignore. If this means ‘wait till the Muslims kick off and then barricade them in their banlieues’ that’s basically apartheid’s ‘homelands’ policy by another name, and you’d need a police state to even attempt it. Besides, I don’t think many of us read 18th, 19th and 20th century French history and come away thinking ‘yes, wasn’t it marvellous the way events in Paris never had any impact on the rest of the country.’

35

dsquared 09.19.03 at 2:43 pm

I hoped I’d made it clear that I regard the idea that the French Islamic population is on the brink of violent revolution to be laughable, sorry.

36

Dan Hardie 09.19.03 at 3:41 pm

Certainly there are good reasons for not believing in an imminent Islamic uprising in the Hexagone, but ‘what happens in Paris doesn’t affect the rest of France’ isn’t one of them.

I have to say- ratcheting things down a good deal from Friedman’s perfervid ramblings- the disaffection of the French Muslim population is certainly causing the French government problems, and it might well be that immigrant Muslim populations across Europe do become further radicalised by what is happening in Iraq. Not to the looney-tunes extent that Friedman forsees, but as an exaggeration of what is already happening- young Muslims, especially males, turning to radical Islamist groups. Friedman appears to see this process as another reason why we should all be jolly grateful to America, but I have to say it strikes me slightly differently.

37

Doug 09.19.03 at 3:41 pm

nothing France does or refuses to do can have any material effect on whether these efforts succeed.

If this is true, why should anyone, in or out of French government, care what French policy or rhetoric are?

As a statement of irrelevance, Rumsfeld could not have done better. Somehow I don’t think the Elysee agrees.

38

Thomas 09.19.03 at 4:47 pm

dsquared–I’m not naive, and I’m not the idiot you appear to be. France has, as a matter of fact, declined to participate in other peacekeeping missions established by the UN, without your believing that they don’t take the UN seriously. That’s a matter of record–please, look it up before spouting off about how I’m “naive.” Arrogant ass.

39

Thomas 09.19.03 at 5:01 pm

dsquared–Furthermore, you appear ignorant of the proposed text of the US-sponsored resolution, which would have called on member states to supply money to an international fund sponsored by the UN, but, unlike most peacekeeping operations, would not have assessed members to provide funds. Additionally, the US-sponsored resolution would not have led to the creation of a UN-sponsored peacekeeping force, but only called on member states to provide resources. In other words, you’re completely wrong. Not naive, just ignorant.

40

a different chris 09.19.03 at 5:18 pm

>If you answer no, then you’ve got to come to grips with what France can and should do to help those efforts succeed.

Yes, but that does in no way mean that they have to take “the Bush way or the highway which is all I can determine that you are advocating.

When a start-up spins out of control, the first things the VCs (which want the thing to succeed) is behead the organization and bring in their own people. France can’t replace the Bushies directly, but they can wait them out or at least hope they smarten up and show some signs of understanding how they got to this point.

To put it more simply, if you think France should do what the US tells them to, then you have to make the case that Bushco has a clue in hell what they are doing. Go ahead, I need a laugh.

(As an aside: conservatives love the notion of “tough love” but never seem to realize when it’s being applied to them.)

And this transits me into the most amazing part of Friedman’s essay: the eventual Islamic overthrow of France if they don’t follow Bush into Iraq, due to the large Muslim population of France.

Well, Idiot (and there’s no other word for Friedman at this point), did it occur to Your Brilliance that, having a bunch of Muslims UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL, in fact, as freaking constituents, that French politicians may have a little better grip on what actions in Iraq will and won’t make them happy??

Jeebus.

41

Mark 09.19.03 at 5:50 pm

I thought Friedman was making the obvious point that if nation A continues to oppose nation B in many important enterprises, nation A will appear to be an enemy of nation B. Certainly, France has opposed the US in a number of crucial issues, most recently in Iraq. One could argue, therefore, that France is becoming a tacit enemy of the US.

Worse than this – or rather, worst of all – however, was France’s willingness to condemn Iraqis to further torture, slavery, rape and genocide in exchange for French self-aggrandizement. The result was to turn French foreign policy into an excuse for slave trading.

Asking France for help in Iraq would be like asking your former jailors for advice. If France could not display sound moral judgment in rescuing Iraqis from Saddam, it can hardly be expected to exercise sound moral judgment in the difficult period of post-war reconstruction.

42

Antoni Jaume 09.21.03 at 12:25 am

Mark,

never ever had the USA cared about people out of their frontiers, except as prospective slaves. They fought in WW2 because they were aggressed (a fairly legitimate cause by itself, don’t you think?), not out of principle to defend democracy against fascism. In Bush father war, they did not go up to remove Saddam, who was already attested as a thoroughly criminal. Instead they sugested that they would like the Iraquis to remove him, which they foolisly, in hindsight, interpreted that if they rised against Saddam the USA would proportionate them adequate cover. A lot of the mass graves were filled then. That by itself seems sufficient to me for the French not to go.

DSW

43

Yehudit 09.22.03 at 5:44 am

“it is only on an international/multilateral basis that iraq can be pacified/reconstructed, since for this to happen the process has to have legitimacy in a majority of iraqi eyes. this is the “international public good” at stake. the u.s.a. has to stand down, but, of course, it won’t.”

Actually, the Iraqis would rather have the coalition forces than the UN running the show.
http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/4694.htm
http://www.bouldernews.com/bdc/cda/article_print/1,1983,BDC_2420_2258561_ARTICLE-DETAIL-PRINT,00.html

The UN doesn’t exactly have a great track record of managing peace-keeping operations.
http://www.4forums.com/political/showpost.php?p=4815&postcount=1

44

dsquared 09.22.03 at 7:06 am

>>dsquared—I’m not naive, and I’m not the idiot you appear to be

Well I’m happy to hear that, but for the time being you certainly appear to be repeating the same naive point over and over again, which is a good way to get that reputation.

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Thomas 09.22.03 at 4:41 pm

dsquared–Shall I take that weak rejoinder as a concession that (1) you haven’t read the US-sponsored draft UN resolution, which is as I describe it, (2) you are aware that if the US sponsored resolution is as describe it, then your whole argument (including references to my being “naive”) is, at best, based on your misunderstanding, and (3) you are aware that France often doesn’t supply troops to UN peacekeeping missions, despite your suggestion otherwise. I’d be happy to share the source documents with you, but you have access to google just like anyone else, so it shouldn’t take that much. Really, it doesn’t say much for you to continue to defend your hopeless position. You screwed up, posting about things you didn’t fully understand. Admit it and move on.

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