Man Without Qualities

Thursday, January 23, 2003

French Games

Innocents Abroad posts an interesting survey and analysis of the recent French obstructionism regarding Iraq.

I have noted previously that the French face a difficult commercial choice: side with the United States now and risk losing their relationships with the current Hussein government in Iraq, or continue to obstruct the United States, thereby risking loss of French commercial interests in Iraq after a United States led invasion.

At the moment, it appears that the French believe it is possible to block the United States incursion by continued international mischief. And the French continue to make mischief.

But if the French become convinced that their current mischieveous gambit won't work, their economic interests should then recall them to "virtue." At that point we will learn just how principled the French opposition to the United States position really is.

The United States knows all that. If France is cynically motivated by its commercial interests then the United States should adopt a strategy of constructing a credible argument that an incursion is inevitable unless Iraq complies with the United Nations mandate. And, sure enough, the Administration has sent forth Colin Powell - who is viewed by the Europeans as the most moderate senior member of the Administration - to tell the French that their gambit won't work. Using Mr. Powell to deliver this message increases its credibility because the French are deprived of the possibility that "more moderate" quarters of the Administration might prevail.

Sad, really, that the great French nation has come to this.

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