|Man Without Qualities|
Thursday, February 06, 2003
Senator John McCain says the only reason the French are being so difficult with respect to Iraq is to protect their oil contracts.
What he doesn't say expressly is that if his accusation is correct, the French will jump on board the American bandwagon when they come to understand that the Iraq incursion is inevitable.
But French President Chiac says that point has not yet been reached: "We refuse to think that war is inevitable"
Somebody should remind Mr. Chirac that in France the worst political sin is not corruption, it is stupidity. And it is never foregiven. Time is getting very short.
Of course, Mr. Chirac may just just trolling for formal assurances that French oil contracts will be assumed and respected - perhaps even enhanced - by the new American-imposed government. Indeed, it is so hard to believe that Mr. Chirac is not a whore - and so much easier to believe that he's just driving a hard bargain over the price.
UPDATE: One Financial Times columnist, François Heisbourg, doesn't expect the French to participate in an Iraq incursion - although he is curiously silent about a French Security Council vote:
The government in Paris may ... now believe there is relatively little to lose by confirming its anti-war stance. The damage has been done. A deep split has emerged in the Atlantic alliance and within the European Union. And while exclusion from a post-Saddam Iraq may cost it dear, France may also have something to gain. Rightly or wrongly, staying out of a war could open other doors in the Middle East. In any case, the French remember that their role in the Gulf war coalition did not secure them a substantial share of the post-war action.
Staying out of a war could open other doors in the Middle East? Really? Perhaps starting with the possible repudiation of all those Iraqi/French oil contracts and all that debt? And is Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran or any other counrty that has just watched the United States utterly demolish Iraq going to go its merry way provoking and ignoring the demolisher? Can France think it will prosper by counting on such a calculus? If the Financial Times is right about this one then Mr. Chirac does need to be reminded what the greatest political sin in France really is.
In any event, Mr. Heisbourg's observation that the French remember that their role in the Gulf war coalition did not secure them a substantial share of the post-war action suggests that he, too, suspects that Mr. Chirac is just pimping France as a whore at the United Nations and in Washington.
It's sad that Mr. Chirac feels that to pay the rent he has to put Marianne on the streets.
FURTHER UPDATE: Tony Blair says he's still confident that France, Russia and others can be brought around.
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