Thomas Friedman, The French, & The Post 9/11 World

Here are some excerpts from what I wrote about the French on Sept 9th

“…(The) French and German governments would rather see Democracy fail in Iraq rather than succeed. It would be a humiliation for America and as a bonus, they’d have a much better chance of restoring their economic ties with a dictator than a free Iraq that remembers and resents the nations that tried to aid Saddam. If the Iraqis move too fast towards Democracy, their government will be too weak to survive and a civil war or even perhaps an invasion from Iran or Turkey could easily happen. If that sort of chaos broke out, the world would likely forget about Democracy in Iraq and would probably help another Iraqi strongman gain power in order to restore stability.”

Well, believe it or not, noneother than Thomas Friedman is making almost exactly the same point I made about France in today’s NYT….

“It’s time we Americans came to terms with something: France is not just our annoying ally. It is not just our jealous rival. France is becoming our enemy.

…If you add up how France behaved in the run-up to the Iraq war (making it impossible for the Security Council to put a real ultimatum to Saddam Hussein that might have avoided a war), and if you look at how France behaved during the war (when its foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, refused to answer the question of whether he wanted Saddam or America to win in Iraq), and if you watch how France is behaving today (demanding some kind of loopy symbolic transfer of Iraqi sovereignty to some kind of hastily thrown together Iraqi provisional government, with the rest of Iraq’s transition to democracy to be overseen more by a divided U.N. than by America), then there is only one conclusion one can draw: France wants America to fail in Iraq.

France wants America to sink in a quagmire there in the crazy hope that a weakened U.S. will pave the way for France to assume its “rightful” place as America’s equal, if not superior, in shaping world affairs.

Exactly. France is engaged in what Friedman refers to later in the editorial as “Operation America Must Fail”. They are not our friends & they do not want to see Democracy take root in Iraq.

Now why is that? While many people on the left would claim, “it’s the Bush administration,” it’s not true. Even Friedman will admit that after taking the obligatory cheap shot at Bush…

“Yes, the Bush team’s arrogance has sharpened French hostility. Had President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld not been so full of themselves right after America’s military victory in Iraq — and instead used that moment, when the French were feeling that maybe they should have taken part, to magnanimously reach out to Paris to join in reconstruction — it might have softened French attitudes. But even that I have doubts about.”

Yes, I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense to offer France & their allies at the UN decision making power in Iraq (and that’s what France has consistently demanded if they’re going to participate) given that they don’t want us to succeed, but that’s leftist thinking on foreign policy for you.

So what’s going on with France? It’s all rooted in the end of the Cold War. Once the Cold War ended, no one in Europe was obliged to cooperate with us in order to guarantee that they wouldn’t get pinned under a Soviet boot. Now that they don’t feel that they “need us” anymore, some nations, like France feel free to oppose us in ways that that would have been considered unthinkable during the Cold War. That’s not surprising, it’s human nature. Look to Pre-WW2 Europe and you’ll see the same sort of behavior. Luckily for the planet, Europe isn’t as full of heavily armed & belligerent nations as it was then — at least for the moment.

It is, “time we Americans came to terms” with what’s going on not only in France, but to a lesser extent in Europe as a whole. We are not going to have the same sort of relationship with them for the foreseeable future that we did during the Cold War. It’s no longer “us against the world” like it was back then. That doesn’t mean every European nation is or will become our enemy, it just means that things are still sorting themselves out. Over the next few years, we’ll start to get a much better idea of who’s with us, who’s against us, and who is willing to be bought by the highest bidder — at least as long as the quasi-Fascist super state so many European bureaucrats dream of doesn’t actually come into being.

That’s what the post 9/11 world is going to be like & we’d better get used to it.

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