On this business about France and German opposition to the United States attacking Iraq, Mr. den Beste was right and I was wrong. His basic argument was that the French and the Germans must have something to hide, and that was why they were so strongly opposing the upcoming U.S./U.K. conquest and occupation of Iraq. I argued that domestic political factors were sufficient to explain their behavior.
Recent developments, in particular the leaked “peace plan”, have shown I was mistaken.
Den Beste has excellent coverage and analysis of this leaked Franco-German plan. (here and here and here.) There is no need for me to repeat or summarize his posts. Read them if you haven’t already. The recent Franco-German effort to thwart the military build-up in Turkey is consistent with all of this. David Warren has excellent coverage of this episode, though he mistakenly attributes the Franco-German actions to “vanity”.
No. It is not vanity. There is something far more serious and menacing going on here.
After mulling this business on and off today, I am left with the following train of thought. The Germans and the French are not just making gestures of opposition. They are seriously trying to prevent the United States and Britain from going into Iraq. They are persisting in this in the teeth of the manifest intention of the U.S. to go in. In other words, they are putting themselves into explicit opposition to the United States on a matter which the United States has made clear is necessary for its security. This is a very serious thing to do. They are openly and explicitly and consciously making themselves allies of a country the United States has made clear is its enemy. Moreover, the French and Germans know they have a weak hand, and they are imposing great political costs on themselves in continuing to push this. But they are persevering. So, as den Beste notes, where they are going to such extraordinary lengths to try to prevent the US from going into Iraq, and their public explanations are inadequate or incredible, they must have some concealed motive. What motive? Fear of discovery of their complicity with the Iraqi regime is the most likely explanation. The thinking along these lines has been that the French and Germans don’t want the world to know that they have been selling weapons technology to Iraq. This disclosure would be embarrassing, but is it enough to justify the increasingly desperate efforts the French and Germans are making?
Let us take it a step farther. Let’s assume that the French and Germans have been actively assisting Iraq to acquire WMD, especially nuclear weapons. Why would they do this? First, of course, money. That has to be part of it. In the German case, I think it is probably the main part. But they are running huge risks just for money. There must be more. What?
At least in the case of the French, a plausible explanation would be a positive desire to see Iraq armed with WMD, and to assist it to acquire them. Why? Pure power politics. France sees itself in a zero-sum power struggle with America. But America is the Hyperpower. France is forced to dance to Washington’s tune. So, France is a non-status quo power, which wants to terminate American Unipolarity. But it cannot do so on its own. It simply lacks the size, economic power, military power, vitality, efficiency – everything which it would need for a direct challenge to the United States. There is no way for France to get into the same league as the United States. France has tried to build a European Union which would offset U.S. power, with itself as primus inter pares, but it is clear to everyone with half a brain that this project will never be a true challenger to the United States.
That leaves to France only the option of doing of things which positively harm the position of the United States. France cannot do this overtly, because the United States can crush French militarily if it came to it. Therefore, arming Saddam is a way to covertly harm the United States to the advantage of France. The French benefit from nuclear weapons proliferating, because this has the effect of neutralizing American conventional military power. The French benefit from Saddam becoming an unassailable regional power in the Persian Gulf, as a client and covert ally of France, because this makes them a major player in the region through their ties to Saddam, and damages American interests in the region. The French might even believe that they would benefit from the provision of nuclear weapons to terrorists, so long as they were used against the United States. A nuclear detonation in New York or Washington or Chicago or all three would severely damage the United States. Destruction on this scale would cause worldwide economic disruption. But it would also render the United States a much less formidable actor, far less able to make its influence felt abroad, since it would be absorbed with police activity and reconstruction at home. This would enhance the relative power of other states at the expense of the United States, including France. Complicity in the destruction of millions of American lives is a price the senior political leadership in France would probably be willing to pay to enhance France’s political position in the world, if it could get away with it, and if its own consequent economic losses were not unendurably severe.
Now, with the United States about to invade Iraq, all contacts between Iraq and its European trading partners and covert allies will be dragged out into the daylight. Hence the last-ditch attempt to impose a U.N. “occupation”. The game of using Iraq against the United States, if it existed, is now over. The goal of the French and Germans, with their half-baked ongoing inspections proposal, is now damage control and cover-up, to sanitize the place and prevent disclosure of their role.How’s that for a good old Jacksonian conspiracy theory? I’m not sure how much of this I believe. Brooding in my car on the Eisenhower Expressway leads to a pretty dark view of the world. My wife thinks I’m going nuts. But the behavior of the French and Germans is so far out of whack that something very ugly indeed may well lie behind it. And I have always considered the French political leadership to be a malign force. They are implacable enemies of America, not the contemptible but basically unserious “cheese eating surrender monkeys” scorned throughout the wide realms of blogistan. My sense is that the average Jacques and Marie dislike America but don’t wish us any harm. Their leaders are different.
The documents and witnesses we will obtain when we take Baghdad are going to yield up secrets which some people would rather never saw the light of day, not all of them Iraqi. It will be time for truth, though whether that truth ever gets out to the American public is another question. (See David Warren’s excellent column on our government’s refusal to speak the truth about the behavior of various foreign countries.)
This is all one more good reason to conquer Iraq.
We’d better do it soon.