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« Taking from the poor and giving to the rich | Main | Going, going... »

October 28, 2003

Comments

Anticipatory Retaliation

One thing I'm rather amused by is the sleight of amnesia which has allowed those of the Middle East to forget that France gave birth to the Israeli nuclear program.

Daniel in Medford

Anticipatory Retaliation: documentation, please?

Please include in your explanation exactly what you mean by the phrase "France gave
birth to the Israeli nuclear program". If you mean that French nuclear scientists
built reactors at Dimona, and assisted in the construction of nuclear weapons -- and
can document this -- then I'd agree with your assertion.

If, on the other hand, you meant that the French sold military hardware to Israel,
leaving it up to the Israelis to build their own reactors etc., then I'd say "gave
birth to" is misleading, at best.

Certainly many foreign scientists and engineers (West German as well as French)
were involved in the design AND construction of the Osirak reactor in Iraq. I do not
believe a similar case can be made for Israel. If you can prove me wrong, please
do so.

Incidentally, none of this disproves Oliver's basic point -- the unscrupulousness of
French foreign policy. Whether one approves or disapproves of selling nuclear
technology to Israel, or to Iraq, or to anyone else, the point before us is whether
France conducted its foreign policy solely on the basis of domination and dollars.
Whether or not "France gave birth to the Israeli nuclear program" is irrelevant...
unless you take the point of view that there was a moral imperative to arm Israel
with nuclear weapons, and that France courageously took a stand where no other country
would. Is that, in fact, your contention?

respectfully,
Daniel in Medford

Anticipatory Retaliation

Hold on a smidge on the documentation - you've asked for no small amount of stuff, but I'll get a small raft of it up on my blog (anticipatoryretaliation.blogspot.com). The point to which I was making reference is that while the US is demonized for its support of Israel and France lauded for its opposition to American foreign policy, France has not even been consistent in its inconsistency. The same France that now supports IAEA inspections in Iran over the Iranian nuclear program, provided some of the kindling for that particular fire themselves.

I agree that my comment does not disprove the basic argument made in Oliver's point - nor was it intended to. In retrospect, the post was insufficiently clear.

Anticipatory Retaliation

Daniel, I've posted what amounts to as a summary (or at least a good start). Take a read and tell me what kinds of things give you pause or raise doubts, and I'll go see if I can dig up more stuff, and between the two of us, we'll get this thing researched.

Matthew

One could argue that the greatest success in French foreign policy was World War II which finally destroyed the territorial ambitions of its historical enemy, Germany. One couldn't argue that the French had much to do with it however.

However is it not the case that this quote, 'France condemned the attacks but emphasised the importance of restoring sovereignty to Iraqis as a means of stopping the bloodshed.' doesn't have to mean that 'the French seriously believe the terrorists in Iraq are demanding popular sovereignty', but instead could just mean that the French believe that restoring sovereigny to Iraqis will undermine any nascent popular support for the terrorists within Iraq.

It's quite possible that the terrorists have no popular support in Iraq, or none outside of ex-Saddamists. But it's also possible that a heavy-handed American response, of the kind that believes the only way to fight terror is military, will create some. Terrorism rarely survives without any popular backing, which is why there is usually a political dimension to any solution.

Werner

Matthew, of course terrorism can survive without popular backing, at least without the popular backing that would give them a significant role in a parliamentary democracy. A degree of foreign support and a source of money will be enough. But the population ("collaborators with the enemy") must be terrorised into silence and submission. Exactly that is the purpose of targeting civilians, policemen, journalists, civil institutions, foreign notables.

If those terrorists have any sense, they will start calling themselves "Iraqi Popular Front" or something similar. The 'world community' will probably fall for it (will you?).

Matthew

Oh I'm not saying you aren't right, I was merely explaining the position of those who argue that greater popular sovereignty is necessary to defeat terrorism.

I certainly hope that the terrorism in Iraq (which it is -- no-one can now say Iraq and Al Queda aren't linked) is merely a product of foreign support and a source of money. If so it will be easy to stop.

Werner

Well, not 'merely' foreign support and money - but these factors are crucial. I don´t think they will be easy to stop. Being able to stop them would be one sign of true Iraqi sovereignty - and we may be getting there eventually, and I agree about its importance- but it will only happen slowly and by degrees. American power and resolve are indispensable, and the French government knows it. But American power and resolve are limited, not least because the rest of the world does not seem to care or works actively toward failure. And the French government definitely knows that, too.

david

Daniel,

AR is right. Here is a good source for the history of Israel's nuclear program:

http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Nwfaq/Nfaq7-3.html#Israel

AR, sorry if you have already posted that on your site, I haven't looked at it yet. If you haven't, you may be interested in including it.

David

John Dunshee

heavy-handed American response, of the kind that believes the only way to fight terror is military, will create some.

So, Matthew, what is the proper response to terrorism if not military? Please don't give me that poverty and education crap. Most of the terrorists have been neither poor nor uneducated. Besides, you have to deal with the actions before you can deal with the reasons. It's very hard to carry on a dialog with someone who insists on shooting at you while you're talking.

There are basically two choices. Force or surrender. Pick one.

If it is withdrawal, (surrender) are you prepared to accept responsibility for any Iraqi deaths resulting from that decision?

John

Hey, European integration! Remember that?

Sydney Carton

Don't forget the Napoleonic Wars, which resulted from France's totalitarian-style Revolution (which the French sickeningly celebrate each year. I wonder if they also have mock guilotines as well?). The Napoleonic Wars involved another massive invasion across Europe, which the English finally put down.

America fought an undeclared war with France in 1798, over its treatment of our merchant ships. Earlier, France would anger America over the XYZ Affair. France was also the American colonists' first major enemy, in the French-Indian Wars. They got beat there too.

They should name it the Arc de Surrender.

tm

On Israel's nuclear program, here's an excerpt from Howard M. Sachar's A History of Israel from the Rise of Zionism to Our Time (2nd ed.), p. 877:

At Reagan's initiative, former presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter declared their support for the AWACS sale to Saudi Arabia, and added their own criticism of Begin's "interference." For the first time, a number of traditionally friendly legislators turned their backs on Israel. The Senate confirmed the sale to Saudi Arabia.

The uncharacteristic eruption of anti-Israel feeling actually had been triggered earlier, on June 7, 1981, by Begin's single most forceful gesture of international defiance since assuming the premiership. The challenge related to Middle Eastern nuclear competition. It is recalled that Israel's involvement in the nuclear game began as far back as 1952, when the Ben-Gurion government established its own atomic energy commission. The program's first fruit was the tiny five-megawatt "swimming pool" research reactor at Nachal Sorek. Its second, in the later 1950s and early 1960s, was a secret Franco-Israeli undertaking to construct a twenty-four-megawatt natural uranium reactor, and an adjacent processing plant, in the northern Negev town of Dimona. Both governments well understood that the facilities were intended specifically for the production of weapons-grade plutonium. Some years later, however, upon Charles de Gaulle's accession to the presidency of France, the relationship with Israel cooled, and in 1964 Paris halted its shipments of natural uranium for the Dimona reactor. No other country was prepared to pick up the slack; for Israel, intent upon maintaining its deterrent edge, had declined to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

On their own, consequently, and often through devious routes, the Israelis in ensuing years managed to lay their hands on just enough enriched uranium to keep their Dimona processing plant functional. "Operation Plumbat" was an example of that technique. A Belgian Company, Société Générale de Belgique, produced uranium oxide--"yellow cake." SGM's sales, limited to civilian purposes, were tightly monitored by Euratom, the European Atomic Energy Commission. In 1968, however, an Israeli front company, operating out of Germany, secured Euratom's consent to purchase some two hundred tons of the Belgian company's uranium oxide, ostensibly for the manufacture of petrochemicals. Arrangements subsequently were made for the yellow cake to be shipped by boat to Italy for "special processing." In fact the cargo vessel was secretly owned and operated by Israel's Mossad; and once at sea, protected by Israeli gunboats, it brought the yellow cake to Israel. Six months passed before Euratom learned that the uranium oxide had gone astry. With this material, Israel by 1973 had managed to fabricate possibly as many as twelve atomic warheads, together with several nuclear-capable Jericho I rockets, whose strike range encompassed a wide array of Middle Eastern capitals.

ed

Oliver,

Can I say how you've warmed my heart this morning? I love the analysis, which is even more satisfying for being true (as far as I can see, in thrust and detail). I agree with you that France could have prevented the second Iraq war if it had used all its influence to back America in its drive to clean up Iraq. Even if some military action had been necessary, it could have been so much lower key and less demanding had the French used their contacts effectively. Not least, this would have included persuading Turkey that its involvement with the EU would be enhanced and not complicated by its cooperation with the US. War on two fronts would have been either instantaneous in its success, or at worst would have mopped up the ragbag remnants of Baathist resistance before they could regroup or gain external support. It is symptomatic of le vice Francaise that they were too busy paddling their own populist and chauvinistic canoe to offer the merest service to their best friends.

tm

He goes on to discuss the France-Iraq angle (pp.877-9):

Yet it was vital to Israel that none of its Arab neighbors share its nuclear capability. Earlier fears of Egypt as an atomic threat may have been dissipated. By the mid-1970s, however, Iraq's President Saddam Hussein was intent upon becoming the first Arab leader to command a nuclear arsenal. In the fulfillment of that ambition, Saddam was able to rely on cooperation with France. The Giscard d'Estaing government, seeking a wider access to Iraq's vast oil suppliers and weapons market, agreed in 1976 to build Saddam two nuclear reactors. Indeed, the French contract also promised delivery of uranium 235 to fuel the two plants. News of the Franco-Iraqi deal soon reached Washington and Jerusalem. Both governments appealed to Paris to reconsider, but without success. Once the final installment of U 235 was shipped, in 1981, Iraq almost certainly would possess sufficient enriched uranium to produce at least nine weapons.

In 1979, meanwhile, President Jimmy Carter allowed Israel access to Middle East intelligence photographs taken by America's phenomenal military satellite, the KH-11. Carter's gesture was no mere act of philanthropy. By then, Israel was sharing with Washington its own highly sophisticated Middle East intelligence, including material on Iran suggesting that the shah would not survive the mounting unrest in his country. For the Israelis, in any case, the KH-11 proved a bonanza. It enabled them to acquire first-generation imagery on their enemies' military installations and equipment, among which was a brilliantly clear photograph of Iraq's new Osiraq nuclear reactor, in Tuwaitah, just outside Baghdad. Indeed, it was specifically this photographic confirmation that induced the Israelis to embark on vigorous new countermeasures to abort Iraq's nuclear development. In April 1979, Mossad agents broke into a French warehouse near Toulon and blew up the uranium-fuel casings stored there for early shipment to Basra. The setback was painful for the Iraqi regime, but not irretrievable. New casings were delivered in the autumn of 1979, followed by the first installments of enriched uranium itself in June 1980. With their Osiraq reactor scheduled to become operational early in 1981, the Iraqis could be expected to move directly into the production of weapons-grade plutonium--and then atomic bombs.

Israeli intelligence was equally aware that Saddam Hussein's Soviet-supplied bombers were nuclear-capable, that nuclear warheads could even be fitted to Iraq's Soviet-build SCUD missiles. If diplomatic intercession with France had repeatedly failed, therefore, and if the Toulon operation had proved of only limited effect, more drastic steps were required. One was taken in June 1980, when Professor Yahia al-Meshed, the Egyptian-born physicist who directed Saddam's nuclear research program, was found mysteriously murdered in his Paris hotel room. Yet, by then, Israel's Prime Minister Begin was contemplating a far more decisive measure. This was aerial bombardment of the Osiraq reactor itself. In December 1980 he discussed the notion with members of his cabinet and with Shimon Peres. Their reaction was less than enthusiastic. Unilateral action might provoke an international diplomatic quarantine, they warned. Nevertheless, within the ministerial defense committee, Begin won out. The date of the operation was set for June 1981. Military preparations began immediately and continued throughout the winter and spring.

In the meanwhile, François Mitterand was elected president of France. Ironically, no political figure in Europe counted himself a better friend of the Jews and Israel. During his election campaign, Mitterand had harshly criticized Giscard d'Estaing's pro-Arab bias. Now, as one of his first presidential acts, Mitterand instructed his foreign ministry to produce a foolproof plan for limiting the Iraqi reactor exclusively to civilian purposes. The ministry in turn formulated a schedule for spacing out uranium deliveries, to ensure that each shipment would be immediately irradiated--in effect, consumed--by the reactor. Before the plan could be reviewed, however, the Isrealis decided the issue themselves.

tm

And, on the same topic, here's a fascinating piece of analysis from Stratfor, from February 18, 2003:

In attempting to understand France's behavior over the issue of war with Iraq, there is little question but that strategic, economic and geopolitical considerations are dominant drivers. However, in order to understand the details of French behavior, it is also important to understand a not really unknown but oddly neglected aspect of French policy: the personal relationship between French President Jacques Chirac and Saddam Hussein.

The relationship dates back to late 1974, when then-French Premier Chirac traveled to Baghdad and met the No. 2 man in the Iraqi government, Vice President Saddam Hussein. During that visit, Chirac and Hussein conducted negotiations on a range of issues, the most important of these being Iraq's purchase of nuclear reactors.

In September 1975, Hussein traveled to Paris, where Chirac personally gave him a tour of a French nuclear plant. During that visit, Chirac said, "Iraq is in the process of beginning a coherent nuclear program and France wants to associate herself with that effort in the field of reactors." France sold two reactors to Iraq, with the agreement signed during Hussein's visit. The Iraqis purchased a 70-megawatt reactor, along with six charges of 26 points of uranium enriched to 93 percent -- in other words, enough weapons-grade uranium to produce three to four nuclear devices. Baghdad also purchased a one-megawatt research reactor, and France agreed to train 600 Iraqi nuclear technicians and scientists -- the core of Iraq's nuclear capability today.

Other dimensions of the relationship were decided on during this visit and implemented in the months afterward. France agreed to sell Iraq $1.5 billion worth of weapons -- including the integrated air defense system that was destroyed by the United States in 1991, about 60 Mirage F1 fighter planes, surface-to-air missiles and advanced electronics. The Iraqis, for their part, agreed to sell France $70 million worth of oil.

During this period, Chirac and Hussein formed what Chirac called a close personal relationship. As the New York Times put it in a 1986 report about Chirac's attempt to return to the premiership, the French official "has said many times that he is a personal friend of Saddam Hussein of Iraq." In 1987, the Manchester Guardian Weekly quoted Chirac as saying that he was "truly fascinated by Saddam Hussein since 1974." Whatever personal chemistry there might have been between the two leaders obviously remained in place a decade later, and clearly was not simply linked to the deals of 1974-75. Politicians and businessmen move on; they don't linger the way Chirac did.

Partly because of the breadth of the relationship Chirac and Hussein had created in a relatively short period of time and the obvious warmth of their personal ties, there was intense speculation about the less visible aspects of the relationship. For example, one unsubstantiated rumor that still can be heard in places like Beirut was that Hussein helped to finance Chirac's run for mayor of Paris in 1977, after he lost the French premiership. Another, equally unsubstantiated rumor was that Hussein had skimmed funds from the huge amounts of money that were being moved around, and that he did so with Chirac's full knowledge. There are endless rumors, all unproven and perhaps all scurrilous, about the relationship. Some of these might have been moved by malice, but they also are powered by the unfathomability of the relationship and by Chirac's willingness to publicly affirm it. It reached the point that Iranians referred to Chirac as "Shah-Iraq" and Israelis spoke of the Osirak reactor as "O-Chirac."

Indeed, as recently as last week, a Stratfor source in Lebanon reasserted these claims as if they were incontestable. Innuendo has become reality.

Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who held office at the time of the negotiations with Iraq, said in 1984 that the deal "came out of an agreement that was not negotiated in Paris and therefore did not originate with the president of the republic." Under the odd French constitution, it is conceivable that the president of the republic wouldn't know what the premier of France had negotiated -- but on a deal of this scale, this would be unlikely, unless the deal in fact had been negotiated between Chirac and Hussein in the dark and presented as a fait accompli.

There is some evidence for this notion. Earlier, when Giscard d'Estaing found out about the deal -- and particularly about the sale of 93 percent uranium -- he had ordered the French nuclear research facility at Saclay to develop an alternative that would take care of Iraq's legitimate needs, but without supplying weapons-grade uranium. The product, called "caramel," was only 3 percent enriched but entirely suitable to non-weapons needs. The French made the offer, which Iraq declined.

By 1986, Chirac clearly had decided to change his image. In preparation for the 1988 presidential elections, Chirac let it be known that he never had anything to do with the sale of the Osirak reactor. In an interview with an Israeli newspaper, he said, "It wasn't me who negotiated the construction of Osirak with Baghdad. The negotiation was led by my minister of industry in very close collaboration with Giscard d'Estaing." He went on to say, "I never took part in these negotiations. I never discussed the subject with Saddam Hussein. The fact is that I did not find out about the affair until very late."

Obviously, Chirac was contradicting what he had said publicly in 1975. More to the point, he also was not making a great deal of sense in claiming that his minister of industry - who at that time was Michel d'Ornano -- had negotiated a deal as large as this one. That is true even if one assumes the absurd, which was that the nuclear deal was a stand-alone and not linked to the arms and oil deals or to a broader strategic relationship. In fact, d'Ornano claimed that he didn't even make the trip to Iraq with Chirac in 1974, let alone act as the prime negotiator. Everything he did was in conjunction with Chirac.

In 1981, the Israelis destroyed the Iraqi reactor in an air attack. There were rumors - which were denied -- that the French government was offering to rebuild the reactor. In August 1987, French satirical and muckraking magazine, "Le Canard Enchaine" published excerpts of a letter from Chirac to Hussein -- dated June 24, 1987, and hand-delivered by Trade Minister Michel Noir -- which the magazine claimed indicated that he was negotiating to rebuild the Iraqi reactor. The letter says nothing about nuclear reactors, but it does say that Chirac hopes for an agreement "on the negotiation which you know about," and it speaks of the "cooperation launched more than 12 years ago under our personal joint initiative, in this capital district for the sovereignty, independence and security of your country." In the letter, Chirac also, once again, referred to Hussein as "my dear friend."

Chirac and the government confirmed that the letter was genuine. They denied that it referred to rebuilding a nuclear reactor. The letter speaks merely of the agreements relating to "an essential chapter in Franco-Iraqi relations, both in the present circumstances and in the future." Chirac claimed that any attempt to link the letter to the reconstruction of the nuclear facility was a "ridiculous invention."
Assuming Chirac's sincerity, this leaves open the question of what the "essential chapter" refers to and why, instead of specifying the subject, Chirac resorted to a circumlocution like "negotiation which you know about."

Only two possible conclusions can be drawn from this letter: Chirac either was trying, in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war and after his denial of involvement in the first place, to rebuild Iraq's nuclear capability, or he wasn't. And if he wasn't, what was he doing that required such complex language, clearly intended for deniability if revealed? No ordinary state-to-state relationship would require a combination of affection, recollection of long history and promise for the future without mentioning the subject. If we concede to Chirac that it had nothing to do with nuclear reactors, then the mystery actually deepens.

It is unfair to tag Chirac with the rumors that have trailed him in his relations with Hussein. It is fair to say, however, that Chirac has created a circumstance for breeding rumors. The issues raised here were all well known at one time and place. When they are laid end-to-end, a mystery arises. What affair was being discussed in the letter delivered by Michel Noir? If not nuclear reactors, then what was referenced but never mentioned specifically in Chirac's letter to his "dear friend" Hussein?

Whatever the answer, it is clear that the relationship between Chirac and Hussein is long and complex, and not altogether easy to understand. That relationship does not, by itself, explain all of France's policies toward Iraq or its stance toward a war between the United States and Iraq. But at the same time, it is inconceivable that this relationship has no effect on Chirac's personal decision-making process. There is an intensity to Chirac's Iraq policy that simply may signify the remnants of an old, warm friendship gone bad, or that may have a different origin. In any case, it is a reality that cannot be ignored and that must be taken into account in understanding the French leader's behavior.


Amir Taheri commented on the Chirac-Hussein friendship (and dismissed it as an explanation for France's recent policy moves) in this article on France's Politique Arabe de France.

Garrison in Oklahoma City

France did, in late 2002, unilaterally and without a UNSC resolution send its mercenaries to the Ivory Coast where they promptly got about the business of killing native Ivorians, and ensuring the free flow of cocoa beans to French, Germyn and Belgium chocolatier.

On or about 12 February 2003, Chiraq did secure a UNSC resolution authorizing use of force in the Ivory Coast. The vote was 15-0 meaning the WAR IS ALWAYS AN ADMISSION OF FAILURE FRENCH and the PACIFIST GERMANS voted FOR use of force.

As not one EUroPEON or American NEO-COM (neo-communist) or Islamo-fascist sympathizer took to the streets to protest against Chiraq's unilateral, white supremacist, neo-colonialist, genocidal racist, imperialistic, BLOOD for COCOA BEANS adventurism in the Ivory Coast, I should think the invasion counted as a foreign policy success for the French.

Big Daddy Cool

Don't forget France's greatest military triumph since... hang on, I am thinking... well, didn't they beat Spain once? Three or four hundred years ago?

In 1985, French commandoes were able to attack and sink the unarmed Greenpeace vessel, the Rainbow Warrior.

http://www.aucklandcitypolice.govt.nz/History/warrior.htm

italicsoff

Christopher Rice

Great analysis of French foreign policy failures. You forgot the Mexican fiasco in the 1860s.

I would argue that the last great triumph of French foreign policy was the nighttime seizure of Calais in 1558. England had held Calais for over 200 years, giving English armies easy access to France. The loss was so devastating to Queen Mary, she supposedly told an attendant "When I am dead, you will find Calais lying on my heart."

The English have gotten over it. Now it's the French terminus of the Chunnel.
CTR

Richard

I'd have to say the Fench did not suffer enough war dead in WWI. Seriously. They indeed lost a million or more men but not enough to knock the arrogance out of them. A complete evisceration of their youth by 1918 would have discredited the Ecole system of generating political, business and military leaders for generations - maybe forever. This institutional "meritocracy" is what generates their maddening single minded view of the world. They are all imprinted from birth about glorious France and barbarian everyone else. The good news is they will never overcome their built-in limitations, Germany will eventually lose patience with them and the rest of the EU will come to view them as slightly more stylish Romanians or Bulgarians. Hell, they just grounded their last truly great tech achievement because of one tire blowout.

JK

We should also not forget that the French revolution was itself a pathetic attempt to emulate the American revolution, which preceded it by only a few years.

The French version went horribly, sickeningly wrong, first as mob rule and the guillotine, and then as despotism and a Europe-wide calamity under Napoleon.

Could they have got it more wrong? Losers indeed.

Doug

I am an American living in Canada, my girl friend from Quebec. Why do the French hate the English so much? Because the English form of arrogance was mostly backed up with solid achievment and success. It is also why the French secretly admire, but openly hate the Americans. Pure envy.

I could never say this in front of my girl friend!

Sergio

Great post. You should have it translated into French and mirrored somewhere - like in MerdeinFrance or one of the other froggy blogs.

John Cheeseman

Let us not forget France's most recent blunder in South America. Several months ago a French special force team was caught red handed by Brazilian authorities while attempting to infiltrate Columbia. It seems that the French were trying to rescue a Columbian politician, who had been kidnapped by Columbian narco/rebels (FARC). She has dual citizenship because her husband is a French citizen. The Brazilians were a bit upset that the French were attempting to conduct military actions from their territory on a neighboring country without their consent.

.glyph.

One has to wonder, given Chirac's personal relationship with his "dear friend" Hussein, if he isn't hiding or otherwise abetting Hussein now. Hussein can't have too many people left that he can trust in Iraq (wasn't it a family member that betrayed his sons?), so he has to be getting support from somewhere, and his links to terrorist groups are probably under pretty intense scrutiny right now. (Though if Chirac had any brains at all he'd stay as far away from Hussein as possible.)
.glyph.

Randy McDonald

We should also not forget that the French revolution was itself a pathetic attempt to emulate the American revolution, which preceded it by only a few years.

I think you overestimate the importance of an English colonial periphery's secession, with extensive Franco-Spanish aid, to Europeans. The War of American Independence can just as easily be thought of as a French-led coalition's successful attempts to weaken Britain's colonial presence; the French Revolution might have been inspired somewhat by the American example, but the French Enlightenment and internal political and economic trends were far more crucial.

Christopher:

I'd have to say the Fench did not suffer enough war dead in WWI. Seriously. They indeed lost a million or more men but not enough to knock the arrogance out of them. A complete evisceration of their youth by 1918 would have discredited the Ecole system of generating political, business and military leaders for generations - maybe forever.

Charming. Perhaps thirty thousand Americans should have died in September 11th rather than only three thousand, since that would have been enough to make America united behind Bush.

You see a problem with the one wish for mass death? You should see a problem with the other.

yabonn_fr

Hello all, was passing by, and i felt compelled to ask : you are american, right?

I ask this because in the u.s. war-nut la-la land everything went bad because the french "are envious of the might of the usa" (your case), wether in the u.k. la-la land, everything went bad "because the french are resentful for losing the empire".

It's basically the same feel-good story, only adapted to the unconscious of the target audience.

I seem to meet it more and more, as the situation degrades, among the most entrenched of the war nuts. A kind of prerequisite for denial : no we did not isolate ourselves from the world it's the french. Yes everything is fine in irak, lookee the french hoping everything goes bad. Etc, Etc.

I'm nitpicking a bit, your rant is not worse than the others, but you'll admit that in these days of french bashing galore, you'd expect a minimum originality in the most recent production.

Instead of that we have here the very very usual stuff.


Btw,

"The story of Vichy is well-known everywhere except in the French education system."

You don't know france at all do you?

Scott Harris

Relative to our international relationship with France, I believe that what drives the French most crazy is the simple fact that most Americans simply do not care what the French think because they are ultimately unimportant. Even their latest attempt to grab the world spot light failed in its stated attempt, resulting in the weakening of the UN rather than its ascendency.

I can imagine a conversation between one American and a room full of French who urgently make their counter arguments to American foreign policy. And the American response: "Who cares what the French think?"

The USA is the most powerful country in the world on cultural, economic, and military levels. Our language has become the default language of international commerce and diplomacy. Our "tolerance" of French indecision and incompetence only adds to their frustration. IMHO

JohnKentruss

The level of animosity towards the French in the US and Britain is truly amazing and speaks volumes about how psychologically unstable public opinion in these countries have become (well, especially in the US). Perhaps it is because of the influence of TV viewing and celebrity culture that has basically made lemmons out of the an entire generation. As far as Brits are concerned the level of irrationality can perhaps be explained by how irrelevent they have become. After all this country not long ago dominated the oceans and now is reduced to the condition of slavish underling ("Our job is to be with you.") Ouch. That must be hard to take. It seems that British self-confidence is pegged on US acceptance of the their latest sitcom export. Bash the French -that's an outlet. Say what you want about the French, at least they stand up for what they believe I was in France recently and I can report that they handle all this animosity with great elegance and maturity. They even seem forgiving about the uncivilized English rogues that invade their country from time to time (admittedly places like Spain or Greece withstand the brunt of these attacks). I also met a number of Americans and Brits who seemed quite happy to have fled the suffocating, hate-filled political climate of their countries. Re. Napoleon - he was certainly no democrat but let's not forget that Britain basically stood for conservatism and supported repressive monarchies throughout Europe at the time. The promise of Napoleon was not entirely fulfilled but as Hegel believed the arrival of French armies stood for emancipation. The French revolution with all its faults ushered in a new era. God Save the Queen and God Bless America!

tm

I live in Belgium. But I spent a total of 7 months in the States over the past two years, on three separate visits. This part of continental Europe clearly has got a much more "suffocating, hate-filled political climate" than one finds in the States.

The other day I had coffee with an Iranian friend of mine. A year ago he went to Turkey, and from there managed to make it into Italy and then on up here.

On world politics, he thinks the West just wants oil; he doesn't seem to think there's much difference between the US and Europe in this regard. But in other aspects, he sees very sharp differences. He loves the US because it is open and free. He dislikes Europe because of all the racism. He thinks most of the Europeans are "zombies," particularly about politics.

That's not the word I'd choose, but something has gone seriously wrong in political Europe. Because I was here to see what happened, I know that that stuff about the US squandering sympathy is bullshit. Here in Belgium--and elsewhere in Europe--there was an immediate explosion of anti-American vitriol right after 9/11. Yes, there was a lot of genuine sympathy, but most of the left and parts of other segments (and pretty much all of Greece) jumped to the conclusion that the US was to blame and was getting its "just admonition." And this gestalt seems to be seriously overrepresented in the media, in the universities, and among those who substantially influence culture.

At the same time, la nouvelle judeophobie quite shockingly has become a feature of mainstream European politics. The lectures here by Finkielkraut, Berman, Caldwell, Joffe, and Lilla are enlightening on that subject, and others (including the structural links between antisemitism and anti-Americanism).

Yabonn suggested that the US has alienated itself but this assertion is wrong in two different ways. First, diplomatically, the US is hardly isolated. 21 European contries supported the US on Iraq, 6 were opposed, and 6 were neutral. Second, in terms of public opinion, there was a strong current which responded to 9/11 itself with anti-Americanism, and never looked back. This has grown and grown. The people I know tend to be well-educated, but they've never even heard of Salafism or Wahhabism, they repeat that nonsense about how "jihad" means inner struggle, they don't understand the Cold War, they know nothing about the worldview of the jihadi-Salafists and they really don't know anything about the US (particularly its political system) yet think they know it well. Not understanding any of the context or the basic realities, willfully resisting this knowledge, they choose to involve themselves anyway. The US is not to blame for its being scapegoated this way and, although it could learn to communicate better (and get itself a president with adequate communication skills), what I've seen and heard suggests that it wouldn't make much of a difference.

And the media do not present even a minimally competent representation of American politics and political debates. If you were reading seriously, you knew that the debate about Iraq was well underway even before the Taliban fell, and the final decision was made in July of 2002. Yet no sign of this was present in the press here. And even later, the case laid out by Kenneth Pollack, among others, was never presented. And there's certainly no comprehension of the direct relationship between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq: the strategic issues (ability to pressure Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia and so forth).

I think all this French-bashing is, to put it diplomatically, unhelpful. Leaving aside foreign policy and a few other things, France is a great country, and although it seems in decline the art of living is understood there much better than in many other places, the US in particular.

The basic problem is that people everywhere want to believe what they want to believe more than they want to look into things and get clear about them, and the media are the same as when Edgar Allen Poe wrote this, in The Mystery of Marie Roget:

We should bear in mind that, in general, it is the object of our newspapers rather to create a sensation -- to make a point -- than to further the cause of truth. The latter end is only pursued when it seems coincident with the former.

Here's what Pascal Bruckner, André Glucksmann, and Romain Goupil had to say about the media and the French mind a few months ago:

La ligne de conduite élyséenne s'est reflétée dans l'opinion publique. Il faudra raconter un jour l'hystérie, l'intoxication collective qui ont frappé l'Hexagone depuis des mois, l'angoisse de l'Apocalypse qui a saisi nos meilleurs esprits, l'ambiance quasi soviétique qui a soudé 90 % de la popula- tion dans le triomphe d'une pensée monolithique, allergique à la moindre contestation. Il faudra étudier la couverture partisane de la guerre par les médias ? lesquels, à de rares exceptions près, furent moins objectifs que militants, minimisant les horreurs de la tyrannie baasiste pour mieux accabler l'expédition anglo-américaine, coupable de tous les crimes, toutes les fautes, tous les malheurs de la région.

Government [élyséenne] policy was reflected in public opinion. One day, we will have to confront the days of hysteria, the collective intoxication, that struck the Hexagon these past months. We will have to confront the anguished fear of some Apocalypse, a fear that seized our best spirits, and the semi-Soviet abivalance that bound 90% of the population in a single, monolithic thought, allegric to the least contradiction. We will have to confront the partisian war coverage of the media -- who, with few exceptions, were less objective than militant, minimizing the horror of the Ba'aist tyranny to better accuse the Anglo-American venture of being guilty of all the crimes, faults and misery of the region.

Pendant des semaines, Télé Bagdad a envahi nos cervelles et nos petites lucarnes, au point que les très rares dissidents irakiens invités devaient s'excuser d'exister et qu'un chanteur français, dans un geste d'une rare obscénité, quitta le plateau d'une émission de variétés sur FR3 à l'arrivée de Saad Salam, cinéaste et opposant irakien. Il faudra expliquer pourquoi la minorité kurde fut, durant cette période, interdite de manifester quand les nervis de Saddam paradaient sur nos boulevards en brandissant ses portraits, hurlant des slogans a sa gloire, allant jusqu'à lyncher le poète en exil Salah Al-Hamdani. Il faudra analyser cette proportion alarmante de Français (33 %) qui, ne souhaitant pas la victoire de la coalition, se prononçaient de facto pour celle de Saddam Hussein.

For weeks, Tele Baghdad invaded our brains and our screens, to the point that the few Iraqi dissidents that were invited had to apologize for existing, and in a gesture of rare obscenity, a French singer on a variety show on FR3 left the stage on the arrival of Saad Salam, filmmaker and member of the Iraqi opposition. It will be necessary to explain why, during this time, the Kurds were forbidden to demonstrate when Saddam's thugs paraded on our streets, holding up his portrait, shouting slogans to his glory -- going so far as to an almost-lynching of the Iraqi exile poet Salah Al-Hamdani [Salah was attacked by anti-war Arabs in Paris, leading to an official apology from the Mayor. - S.] It will be necessary to understand the alarming proportion (33%) of French people who, in not wishing for a coalition victory, prounounced themselves de facto for Saddam Hussein.

Force est de constater que l'antiaméricanisme n'est pas un accident de l'actualité ou la simple réticence face à l'administration de Washington, mais le credo d'une politique qui soude les uns avec les autres, en dépit de leurs divergences, le Front national et les Verts, les socialistes et les conservateurs, les communistes, les souverainistes... A droite comme à gauche, ils sont rares ceux qui n'ont pas cédé à ce "nationalisme des imbéciles" qui est toujours un symptôme de ressentiment et de déclin.

Harder is to realize that anti-Americanism is not an accident of the times or just a reticence in the face of the Washington administration, but a political credo which binds the strangest of bedfellows: the National Front [The racist extreme-right movement, similar to Britains BNP - S.] and the Greens, the socialists and the conservatives, the Communists, the Sovreigntists [Those opposing EU membership - S.] ... on the right, as on the left, those were rare who did not cede to a "nationalism of fools", always a symptom of resentment and decline.

yabonn

tm :

"Here in Belgium--and elsewhere in Europe--there was an immediate explosion of anti-American vitriol right after 9/11."

I at least, couldn't witness this vitriol.

"The lectures here by Finkielkraut, Berman, Caldwell, Joffe, and Lilla are enlightening on that subject, and others (including the structural links between antisemitism"

Finkielkraut's partly right ringing the alarm on ethnic jews/arabs tensions in france. But he mix it with an really disturbing all out defence of sharon :critisize israel and you're an antisemite, more or less. That's the new "judeophobia" he's talking about.

"irst, diplomatically, the US is hardly isolated. 21 European contries supported the US on Iraq, 6 were opposed, and 6 were neutral."

Har, har, har.

"It will be necessary to understand the alarming proportion (33%) of French people who, [...] prounounced themselves de facto for Saddam Hussein."

Another poll did just that : 8% wishing irak wins over usa when asked the question clearly.

"a political credo which binds the strangest of bedfellows"

Well everyone and his dog in france thought that irak 2 was a bad idea. In the rest of the world too, btw. The mark of the beast is on us all.

rea

The feelings of many of the posters here are perfectly understandable.

The French, like most of the rest of the world, saw no particular urgent threat requiring war with Iraq. The US/UK disagreed, citing Iraq's WMD's, invaded, and --found no sign of any WMD's. Now the US and its junior partner face aa hugely costly and complicated task, putting some kind of functioning Iraq back together, and show little sign of having a clue as to how to go about doing that.

The French, in other words, were proven right by subsequent events. Ample reason to hate the French.

the dissident frogman

The French, in my words, where proved wrong by the discovery of Saddam's torture chambers and Saddam's mass graves.

But of course, the French have been proved wrong by so many genocides so far that there are few people who notice anymore.

I seriously doubt that the US and UK "show little sign of having a clue as to how to go about doing that", and on the contrary, I believe they're on fairly right tracks, pertaining to the tricky situation. In fact, I believe that they are doing pretty good – and that’s certainly the reason why the pure hate campaign in the French media (see the cartoons published in Le Monde and Liberation posted almost daily on Merde in France) never stop and got even worse after the Coalition’s military victory. It’s also the reason why Chirac and his left testicle (de Villepin) are pushing for that so-called quick transfer of sovereignty. Make no mistake: they want to see the enterprise fail, for several reasons, including the pleasure and diplomatic advantage to eventually blame it on the US and UK.

As Doug put it with great insight: “It is also why the French secretly admire, but openly hate the Americans. Pure envy.” Well, I couldn’t agree more. Ivory Coast anybody?

Anyway, to read that "the French were right", which suggests that Saddam would still be in place as we talk - thank to a French supported UN inaction and friendly relation with the Butcher of Baghdad - is just plain disgusting.

No WMD? Yeah, see if I care...

yabonn

frogman :

"The French, in my words, where proved wrong by the discovery of Saddam's torture chambers and Saddam's mass graves."

Actually, saddam's end is indeed the best excuse for the war in irak, and it's still a pitiful one.

Oh my god! Saddam was a dictator! How could we help him for so long time? How could we let him rule after irak 1? How could we let him gas the kurds?

The "discovery" of saddam's crimes? My ass.

"see the cartoons published in Le Monde and Liberation"

They, too, must be hiding the good news from irak.

"Chirac and his left testicle (de Villepin) are pushing for that so-called quick transfer of sovereignty"

Well, bush' right testicle seems to agree. Great balls think alike, i guess.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3233601.stm


" they want to see the enterprise fail, for several reasons, including the pleasure and diplomatic advantage to eventually blame it on the US and UK[...] Pure envy."

Here we go again. The obvious (everybody thought that war was a bad idea) not fitting your fantasies, you must resort to fairy tales to explain the diplomatic fiasco. It's all about the french being "envious", and "willing the us to fail".

"Lets have a fucked up, unstable irak, just next door, so we can bug the merkins, because we are envious". Yeah right.

Not only the idea is ridiculous, but imagining an entire country (let alone the rest of the world) would determine its policies on these premises is just crackpottish.


"No WMD? Yeah, see if I care..."

How uncool to ask where are the wmd hu?

Btw, where are the wmd?

anotherfrog

> As Doug put it with great insight: “It is also why the French secretly admire, but openly hate the Americans. Pure envy.” Well, I couldn’t agree more. Ivory Coast anybody?

The French military intervention was perfectly legal, French marines were propositioned in IC and France has a bilateral defence arrangement with IC since its independence (I've never heard of a similar arrangement between US and Iraq ...). The UN backing was retrospective, but hey ... the guys were actually killing each other, so it was probably not the best time to wait for the end of a UN meeting (And the deployment of the largest interposition force occurs just after the UN resolution).

France intervention in IC is similar to what UK has done rightly in Sierra Leone, and what US should have done in Liberia. In Liberia, US marines could have save lives and be acclaimed by the local population. It look like a much more intelligent intervention than killing Iraqi conscripts to impose a non-solution don't you think ?

the dissident frogman

"Actually, saddam's end is indeed the best excuse for the war in irak, and it's still a pitiful one.
Oh my god! Saddam was a dictator! How could we help him for so long time? How could we let him rule after irak 1? How could we let him gas the kurds?"

So? Is that's all you can come up with? We (whoever the "we" is) “let” Saddam rule before, consequently "we" (whoever the "we" is) should let him rule till Kingdom come?

Typical French indeed: Saddam is killing his own people! This is none of our business! (and let’s just resume the missiles sales please)

Your argument, my ass.

"They, too, must be hiding the good news from irak."

They're ignoring the good news, overstating the bad ones and leading the same anti-American propaganda campaign that has been led in France's press for too long than I can remember. It was quite something during the Reagan years, but they really got their heads deep up their asses since 9/11.

You may want to check this (well, actually, I guess you won't, but other readers in the audience might be interested): http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB106781220646411900,00.html

Your reality denial, my ass.

"Well, bush' right testicle seems to agree. Great balls think alike, i guess."

The big difference is that they're running the show, they’re paying for it, they know how it's working, they decide on the path to choose WHEN it has to be chosen, and they choose the path that serves best the success of the enterprise.

I don't see exactly where it contradict my assumption that France "requested" an irrationally fast transfer just to see the whole thing fail and claim "see? It failed! We were right!"

Your comparison, my ass.

"everybody thought that war was a bad idea"

Well, that sounds like your fantasies this time. Looks like the people who won it and the people who were freed by it would seriously disagree with you.
Did you care to ask, say, the Iraqis for instance?

Your everybody, my ass.

"you must resort to fairy tales to explain the diplomatic fiasco. It's all about the french being "envious", and "willing the us to fail"."

My, my, my... Fairy tales huh? It's been the French politics since de Gaulle and the end of the Great French Empire.
We never forgave the Americans for pushing us up to decolonization, among other things (Let’s not mention de Gaulle’s durable feeling of humiliation for not being treated more than what he was at the time by the US Administration). And oh, they also undermined our great projects like the Concorde and all...
In 1970, Revel addressed the French anti-Americanism in "Neither Marx nor Jesus". In 2002 he began his last book "Anti-Americanism" mentioning the former, 30 years older one. His observation is basically that the situation got plain worse (as just anybody but you noticed, particularly lately) and that it's a constant in just about every field: politics, economics, ecology, diplomacy, culture, you name it.

So give me a break with the "fantasies". I don't know who you're trying to convince here. Apart from yourself of course.

You fairy tales, my ass.

"Lets have a fucked up, unstable irak, just next door, so we can bug the merkins, because we are envious". Yeah right.
Not only the idea is ridiculous, but imagining an entire country (let alone the rest of the world) would determine its policies on these premises is just crackpottish"

You're leaning on the verge of stupidity. What makes you think that a failure of the Coalition in Iraq would mean an "unstable Iraq"?

France is wishing for the return of the same stability that you apparently miss too (as blatant in your opening statement: "Fuck the mass graves. It's a pitiful excuse to get rid of Saddam").

In case you didn't notice, the "guerillas" are largely constituted with Saddam's former SS. It's all about regaining power, stupid!

Your policies crackpots, my ass.

"How uncool to ask where are the wmd hu?"

It's not “uncool” (Geez, how old are you?), it's just not the point, as far as I'm concerned. But I understand that since all the "antiwar camp" fantasies failed to happen, the only thing that's left to desperately justify your moral and intellectual dishonesty is to sit on your ass, cover your ears, close your eyes and relentlessly repeat "no WMD? They lied!"

Your WMD, my ass.

"Btw, where are the wmd?"

Like I just said, they could very well be up your ass for all I care.

Say, did you check lately? We could really use the information, thank you very much.

----
As for your “other frog” buddy, maybe he could find five minutes to explain how a “defense” agreement end up with a foreign nation forcing a settlement upon a legitimately elected government to give up two important ministries to a minority of violent rebel faction.

The French idea of democracy I guess.

And oh, great move with the: “it was perfectly legal to interfere because we were granted the authorization to interfere shortly after we did interfere”. That’s exactly the French conception of Law: let’s just do anything we want. We’ll pass a law afterwards.

Unlawful French interventions in Africa have been the rule since at least the 1970s, and a big part (with the Soviet Union, of course) of Africa’s instability, or “stability” under the rule of thugs (Mugabe anybody?).
No serious observer or historian would deny that.

So give me a break as well, and go check your buddy’s ass. I suspect he’s been hiding Saddam’s WMDs.

Once you’ve found them – or not - you and you’re buddy would be very well advised to check this: http://www.qando.blogspot.com/2003_10_01_qando_archive.html#106544280412513678

It’s getting tiring to hear your constant “war was not justified” whine.

Grow up kiddos, and stop fiddling with your asses.

anotherfrog

> As for your “other frog” buddy, maybe he could find five minutes to explain how a “defense” agreement end up with a foreign nation forcing a settlement upon a legitimately elected government to give up two important ministries to a minority of violent rebel faction.

They have not forced anybody directly, it was: accept the deal, or the “minority” of the oppressed violent rebels, who control 50% of the country, took the capital of the legitimately elected corrupt government and his violent regular army (Of course with the usual refugee problem, civilian killings, looting, business as usual in Africa…).

> The French idea of democracy I guess.
No the French idea of ‘real politic’, not of black and white simplification…

> And oh, great move with the: “it was perfectly legal to interfere because we were granted the authorization to interfere shortly after we did interfere”. That’s exactly the French conception of Law: let’s just do anything we want. We’ll pass a law afterwards.

Again simplification. The peace enforcement started only after the UN resolution has been voted, before the resolution, it was essentially a standard “peacekeeping” (Yeah its stupid) operation aimed at protecting the local population/refugees with no right to use weapons except for self-defence.

And it is _perfectly_ legal, the Marcoussis settlement has also been backed by the UN (BTW, there is actually UN officers in IC, and about 1000 foreign CEDEAO soldiers, so its far from being “Franco-French”)

> Unlawful French interventions in Africa have been the rule since at least the 1970s, and a big part (with the Soviet Union, of course) of Africa’s instability, or “stability” under the rule of thugs (Mugabe anybody?).
>No serious observer or historian would deny that.

I don’t know who exactly give the ‘serious historian’ title, but I have no problem acknowledging that the French policy in Africa has been totally pathetic (near criminal in fact) since the independence.

A serious historian would also acknowledge that the situation has changed since the Rwanda political mess: France has not intervened in Africa for nearly 10 years, a lot of “coup d’états” (Centrafrique, etc…) have been attempted without reaction from Paris. Second, the Ivory Coast and RDC operations were perfectly legal and backed by the UN, there was no ‘conflict of interest’ here, it is mainly humanitarian operation. (IC cost France 30 millions Euros per days, it will certainly not been paid back with cacao/chocolate…)

No serious historian would also denied that the US policy in Africa has not been less ugly than the French one (Remember UNITA?) and I do not even talk of South America. A lot of members from both governments who are directly responsible for theses policy are still in power in France and in the USA (In the Elysee palace or in the CIA for example…). Bashing just France is not fair; communism and economy is not a better pretext than communism and Francophonie …

anotherfrog

>> "everybody thought that war was a bad idea"
> Well, that sounds like your fantasies this time. Looks like the people who won it and the people who were freed by it would seriously disagree with you.
> Did you care to ask, say, the Iraqis for instance?

You seem to care about Iraqis just when you want. There have been reports from independent US think-thanks recently that the actual Iraqi losses are between 10.000 and 30.000 dead. So, there is 15.000 (I took the average) Iraqis that certainly feel more ‘dead’ than ‘liberated’ (Most of them probably involuntary conscripts or civilians). Perhaps you want to know why the war was a non sense:
Because there is currently about 15.000 families in Iraq in which various members have a good reason to harm US interest (For example by killing US soldiers).

And it could have been avoided: Appeasement could have worked, the WW2 comparison is pure propaganda, Kadhafi (Yes, the president Reagan Saddam Hussein!) has been successfully appeased by both the international community and the US actions. War in Iraq was not a fatality; there were still a lot of room for negotiations or permanent UN monitoring (It was the French position, not more, and it certainly reflects no sympathy for Hussein…).

> Your everybody, my ass.

Insult was probably not necessary (The whole diplomatic process before the war has been fu**ed by that kind of comments by M. Rumsfeld or others)

BTW, you raise a lot of interesting points on your Blog TDF; too bad you place ‘my ass’, ‘liberal asshole’ or ‘Islamofascist’ in all your texts. In the end, you look a lot like the other political extremists of France like “Lutte Ouvriere” or “Le Reseaux Voltaire”… It’s a pity since you could eventually have convinced some more “normal” (Less politically extremist) readers (About the poor media coverage of the Iraq war for example)

(I know my English su**s, sorry…)

Creno

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Meban

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