My French is weak but even I get the drift of this article (Google’s sort-of translation is here). Chirac and the UN crowd resemble not a little the Iraqi official who gives those defiant, delusional press briefings with American troops just a short distance away. Does Chirac really believe that France will now be given free that which it earlier refused to pay for? Who knows. Perhaps he sees his statements as a low-risk political gambit that plays well at home and might pay off big if Bush is foolish enough (he isn’t) to take it seriously.
The U.S. has been wise in not encouraging rebellion in Iraq, but maybe Bush should encourage electoral rebellion in France. We could make an effort to point out to mainstream French voters some of the costs to them of Chirac’s opportunistic anti-Americanism and of his pandering to unassimilated Muslim immigrants. Or, more realistically and prudently, our involvement won’t be necessary, as some French politicians are already seeing the light (see this post by Glenn Reynolds). The costs to France of attacking our interests are likely to become more obvious with time, and French voters will eventually catch on.
(One thing which the U.S. could do is streamline our permanent-residency requirements. Let the best people from France and elsewhere come here. That would benefit everyone except Chirac and the other jingoists.)