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Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Cold War II-Item 6-X 2.0-Back in July of 1947, George Kennan wrote an article, using the pseudonym X, detailing the containment policy that delineated the Cold War. We might have the makings of the X article for Cold War II from Richard Pearle.
France is no longer an ally of the United States and the NATO alliance "must develop a strategy to contain our erstwhile ally or we will not be talking about a NATO alliance" the head of the Pentagon's top advisory board said in Washington Tuesday. Richard Pearle, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and now chairman of the Pentagon's Policy Advisory Board, condemned French and German policy on Iraq in the strongest terms at a public seminar organized by a New York-based PR firm and attended by Iraqi exiles and American Middle East and security officials. But while dismissing Germany's refusal to support military action against Iraq as an aberration by "a discredited chancellor," Pearle warned that France's attitude was both more dangerous and more serious. "France is no longer the ally it once was," Pearle said. And he went on to accuse French President Jacques Chirac of believing "deep in his soul that Saddam Hussein is preferable to any likely successor." French leaders have insisted the country will oppose any military action against Iraq without a second resolution by the United Nations Security Council, where it holds one of five crucial veto powers. Last November France did vote for Resolution 1441, which promised "serious consequences" if Iraq did not cooperate with UN weapons inspectors verifying that Iraq has indeed dismantled its programs for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. "I have long thought that there were forces in France intent on reducing the American role in the world. That is more troubling than the stance of a German chancellor, who has been largely rejected by his own people," Pearle said, referring to the sharp electoral defeat suffered by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's party in state elections Sunday.
The post-Powell noises coming from France, calling for more inspections, seem to point against their approving action against Iraq, thus likely ending the UN as an effective agency. An EU meeting this weekend might bring the French around, but that's an iffy proposition. Given some fairly solid evidence that Iraq is playing a shell game with weapons inspectors, has active nuclear and chemical weapons programs and has a small but significant connection to al Qaeda, France prefers Saddam in place to his being removed; the French have an apparent goal of avoiding regime change in Iraq by all diplomatic means possible. There are negligible French interests endangered by Iraqi militarism and plenty of French economic interest endangered by a regime change. By contrast, there are plenty of American interests (including Israel) endangered by Iraqi militarism and negligible American economic interest endangered by a regime change. Two years ago, that Pearle piece would be looked at as a Onion piece; now we face the real possibility of having to fight France and her allies (they might get outnumbered in the EU) for geopolitical influence around the world. Chris Burgwald (who supplied the Pearle link) left this message in my post on Powell's UN speech
Bring the French on board? I don't know. While they might eventually come along with us, it will only be because they don't want to be left out in the cold when Iraq is rebuilt post-war. I see no reason to believe that they will ever support us on this, short of a photo of a nuke sitting in Saddam's lap.
We don't need the French for military purpose in this; we would like a UN blessing, but it's only for world PR and not for military content. That blessing might not be feasible. France needs to figure out whether they want to be a junior partner in the Anglosphere or a senior partner in a statist, amoral Eurosphere. Don't hold your breath for the first option; even so, they might be lukewarmly on board so as to not start Cold War II right now. If they see that their EU brethren are mostly for the US coalition, they might opt for discretion being the better part of valor and either approve of, or at least abstain, on a UN vote. However, I wouldn't put it past the French government to give the middle-digit salute to the US and start to become isolated from the rest of the western world.

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