Friday, September 19, 2003
As I was pondering this problem with the cheese eaters last night, I remembered that our good friend Michael Ledeen was way out ahead of Tom Friedman in recognizing that the French are now an official enemy of the United States.
Last March, when the vin guzzlers first had the ineffable gall to stand in the way of an immediate invasion --- one which which we insisted was imperative because Saddam was blatantly lying about his massive cache of WMD and was preparing to use them any minute (ahem) --- Ledeen set forth his theory about France’s cunning plan to destroy America:
How could it be done? No military operation could possibly defeat the United States, and no direct economic challenge could hope to succeed. That left politics and culture. And here there was a chance to turn America's vaunted openness at home and toleration abroad against the United States.
So the French and the Germans struck a deal with radical Islam and with radical Arabs: You go after the United States, and we'll do everything we can to protect you, and we will do everything we can to weaken the Americans.
The Franco-German strategy was based on using Arab and Islamic extremism and terrorism as the weapon of choice, and the United Nations as the straitjacket for blocking a decisive response from the United States.
If this is correct, we will have to pursue the war against terror far beyond the boundaries of the Middle East, into the heart of Western Europe. And there, as in the Middle East, our greatest weapons are political: the demonstrated desire for freedom of the peoples of the countries that oppose us.
Radio Free France, anyone?
I'm surprised that Mr. Friedman hasn't yet made the connection that Ledeen made lo those many months ago. France is not just any old enemy of the US. It is protecting its terrorist partners in their mutual plan to destroy the United States.
(Just as obvious are the French people’s desires for freedom. Dr. Rice drew the obvious comparison when she observed that we liberated the German people from Hitler in WWII. It may be time to open a can 'o whoop ass on the dictator Jacques Chirac and give those Frenchies a whiff 'o freedom fries.)
Luckily, according to the NY Times today Colin and Condi also have a cunning plan in place -- the same plan, as it happens, that worked so spectacularly during the last UN negotiations.
Last winter, in the face of a threat by France to wield its veto power, the United States tried to line up 9 of the 15 Security Council votes to pass a resolution authorizing the use of force to overthrow Saddam Hussein. American officials said that if they had won the votes, France might have abandoned its veto threat.
President Bush then maintained that the United States did not need the resolution to go to war.
The big difference this time is that even French officials say France will not veto a new resolution.
"Powell is upset about the French, but the fact is they are not in a combative mood on this," a senior European diplomat said. "Behind closed doors, the French are saying they would never dream of vetoing. There is no fighting spirit here."
American officials discussing the strategy of trying to isolate France said it reflected mounting concern among administration officials that in their view, virtually every policy adopted by France in recent months has seemed to try to thwart American policies in Iraq and elsewhere.
"There are just a lot of bad feelings toward the French," an administration official said. "Every time they talk about multilateralism, we know that it's nothing more than a euphemism for constraining the United States."
Earlier this year, the administration was surprised when Russia sided with France over the war resolution. Germany's opposition had been well known. The other surprise was the American failure to enlist African and Latin American nations.
After that diplomatic setback, the administration adopted a policy of punishing France in symbolic ways.
In effect, administration officials say, the policy now is to enlist the Germans in negotiating a possible compromise resolution and to offer Russia a chance to take part in Iraq's reconstruction — as well as get a share of the lucrative contracts to be offered. Mr. Powell has repeatedly praised Russia and Germany for trying to work out a compromise.
A diplomat familiar with administration thinking summarized the American policy as "talk to the Germans, buy off the Russians and isolate the French."
Another was less polite, saying Condoleezza Rice, the White House national security adviser, had characterized the approach as "ignore, reward and punish."
Now why is the administration leaking such things to the NY Times and gullible useful idiots like Tom Friedman? And why would we adopt the same exact strategy we used last time with such spectacularly bad results?
Well, perhaps it’s because the results we are seeking are not the ones we claim they are. Maybe we don’t really want the UN involved in Iraq (especially now that we’ve found out they aren’t going to pony up much more than Dick Cheney’s annual Hallibuton stipend.) Perhaps we are after the same results as last time for the same reasons: buying time, scapegoating, delegitimizing the UN and domestic politics.
Those damned French are refusing to do what is needed to reconstruct Iraq and that is why it is not succeeding. If Rove plays his cards right, in a matter of months the administration should be able to convince a majority of Americans that the French are paying terrorists rewards for every American they kill in Iraq.
But, Colin and Condi will bear any burden, take any amount of time necessary to ensure that we do everything we can to force France to stop supporting terrorism and live up to its obligations. It could take months, but they will not give up --- at least until things calm down enough for President Flightsuit Arbusto to triumphantly parachute into Baghdad with his harness cinched up so high that G. Gordon Liddy pops a Viagra and propositions Chris Matthews on live television.
They’re looking at around October, 2004 to officially declare victory over the Iraqi terrorists and their French partners.
At which point Wolfie and the Dicks will open up that bottle of Dom Perignon they’ve been hoarding in the basement of the Pentagon and privately declare Operation Elect the Moron a success.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that things will not magically improve in Iraq over the next year, in which case we will have to declare war on the Syrians.
France will not have anyone but itself to blame if that happens.
digby 9/19/2003 12:19:00 PM