Man Without Qualities

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Ze Franch And Iraq

The Man Without Qualities is a real Francophile. But to admire a people requires acknowledging their limitations. Many people have linked to articles suggesting that the French may join an invasion of Iraq. And that would be nice and help vindicate the peerless French contributions to democracy, universal human rights and may other great things.

But one must also acknowledge that as a United States incursion into Iraq looks more inevitable and more proximate, the French have an increasingly difficult commercial decision to make: Abstain from joining with the United States and risk considerable investment in Iraq and future commerical contacts once the Uited States takes over, or join with the United States at more or less the last minute to preserve future commerical relationships. So, as the United States action becomes more likely, one can expect that France will behave better and better.

Of course, these are the mirror images of the calculation the French have to make now, with a fairly obvious conclusion: Join with the United States now and, if the United States does not move into Iraq, risk losing the commercial advantage and relationships now held by the French.

Does this analysis seem cynical? Perhaps it is. Perhaps they are.

But I still love the French and France, anyway.

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