Thursday, September 18, 2003

Tom Friedman Gets It

Our War With France

It's time we Americans came to terms with something: France is not just our annoying ally. It is not just our jealous rival. France is becoming our enemy.

If you add up how France behaved in the run-up to the Iraq war (making it impossible for the Security Council to put a real ultimatum to Saddam Hussein that might have avoided a war), and if you look at how France behaved during the war (when its foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, refused to answer the question of whether he wanted Saddam or America to win in Iraq), and if you watch how France is behaving today (demanding some kind of loopy symbolic transfer of Iraqi sovereignty to some kind of hastily thrown together Iraqi provisional government, with the rest of Iraq's transition to democracy to be overseen more by a divided U.N. than by America), then there is only one conclusion one can draw: France wants America to fail in Iraq.

Those in the Democratic Party who have been pushing for more UN involvement and the need to work with "allies" are either being incredibly naïve, or are themselves hoping that some sort of quagmire ensues. There is little to be gained by going the UN route and opening things up for interference from self-seeking parties like the various despotisms bordering Iraq, and nothing at all to be obtained by providing a covertly belligerent power like France with the opportunity for sabotage it has for so long been seeking.

I consider it a failure of leadership on Bush's part that he should have let postwar reconstruction drift so badly and for so long that he opened himself up to the sort of pressure that eventually brought him to look for UN assistance. It ought to have been obvious from the start that "regime-change" in Iraq would neither be cheap nor quick, and fools like Wolfowitz who went on about how Iraq could pay for its' reconstruction out of its' own oil revenues have no place running American foreign policy. If Iraq was important enough to defy the will of the international community to attack, its' reconstruction ought to have been important enough to warrant budgeting seriously for, but this the Bush administration egregiously failed to do, as was evident to any sensible person at the time.

I have no faith in the panaceas being peddled by any of the "multilateralists" in the Democratic Party, but they are surely correct in pointing out the grave lapses in both planning and execution that have been the hallmark of America's post-war presence in Iraq.