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Wonder No More, Tom
Tom Friedman wonders if America and western Europe no longer share the same values.
Well, duh. We still believe in our Constitution and sovereignty, and they have become worshipers of tranzi socialism. I wrote a few months ago, just before we started the Iraqi campaign, that we're in a new Cold War with France. Nothing has happened in the interim to alter my opinion.
And in rereading that piece from March, this "what-if" game occurs to me. Suppose we had gotten Turkish permission, and had been able to wage a two-front war against the regime? Much of the Sunni Triangle might have fallen much sooner, and much more decisively, Saddam might have found it harder to escape there, being caught in a pincer between two armies, and there might not be as many dead enders there now with grandiose delusions. Much of the difficulties that we're having now might have been alleviated.
If so, thanks again, France.
[Update on Monday at 3:20 PM PST]
From the MSNBC piece:
Saddam Hussein refused to order a counterattack against U.S. troops when war erupted in March because he misjudged the initial ground thrust as a ruse and had been convinced earlier by Russian and French contacts that he could avoid or survive a land invasion, former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz has told interrogators, according to U.S. officials...
Well, my first response could be, what in the hell would the French know about surviving a ground invasion? But that might be unkind.
If true, it means that Moscow and Paris fooled themselves about their diplomatic ability as much as Saddam did about his military ability. It also means that they were doing everything in their power to avoid pressuring Saddam to meet his UN obligations, by removing the threat of ending his regime, thereby in fact making war even more necessary and certain.
That sounds like aiding and abetting the enemy to me. Regardless of whether Ledeen was right or wrong about France influencing Turkey, it clearly wouldn't have been out of character. As I said, France is not our friend.Posted by Rand Simberg at November 01, 2003 04:48 PM
The US could have had all that Rand, drop your rather odd Francophobia for a minute and think about what should have been done this year, rather than what was done.
The idea that Europe and the US share or shared the same values is interesting. A lot of Brits make the mistake of thinking they share more in common with US values than European. That's incorrect in my opinion. But hey, I'm a European Brit, what on Earth do I know.Posted by Dave at November 2, 2003 02:11 AM
I'm not a francophobe, Dave.
I don't fear France at all. I just have an extreme dislike for its pusillanimous, mendacious and corrupt leadership.Posted by Rand Simberg at November 2, 2003 09:26 AM
Based on the way you act whenever the subject of France comes up I thought "phobia" myself. The reaction isn't just about "fear".
They aren't the root of all evil. To be honest, their actions in this afair are, in hindsight, becomming more and more understandable.Posted by Dave at November 2, 2003 01:35 PM
They aren't the root of all evil.
I've never either claimed or implied that they were.
To be honest, their actions in this afair are, in hindsight, becomming more and more understandable.
Of course they're understandable. I understand them perfectly well, and have all along. That's why I find them despicable.
I'm not sure why you were so slow to figure it out, though. ;-)Posted by Rand Simberg at November 2, 2003 01:44 PM
Michael Leeden was the only one making the claim that France had made Turkey refuse permission to move US troops through, all others are just quoting him.
I've seen a lot of reports on why Turkey behaved this way, and none cited French pressure. The Turkish government also had plenty of reasons of its own to behave the way it did.
One last point: Considering how much trouble Turkey is in because it refused permission don't you think it would say "the French made us do it" if it really had been France's fault?Posted by Ralf Goergens at November 2, 2003 04:33 PM
OK, I'll let France off the hook for that particular incident. I was just going on my recollection at the time. My point remains, though, that the main object of their foreign policy seems to be to obstruct America's foreign policy, and they are currently neither a friend or an ally.Posted by Rand Simberg at November 2, 2003 04:47 PM
Can we beat up on the French today? Yeeha, let me be the first to open up a big can of whupass.
Every time some "media" type spews about what the Europeans think about us, I just want to reach into the tube or radio and give them a good old bitch-slap.
Can't they figure out that the reason many of us LEFT Europe for the USofA is because we DON'T GIVE A SHIT what they think about us?
As a former European, I just have one thing to say to the French: Kiss My American Ass.Posted by Dave at November 2, 2003 07:19 PM
I can't say I'm conversant as to France's responsibility in this instance.
That said, my reading of French history is that they are on the side of Manipulation.
Perhaps the culture in America today is less accommodating to such overtly poitical machinations.
Bully for us.Posted by cj at November 2, 2003 09:08 PM
To be honest, their actions in this afair are, in hindsight, becomming more and more understandable.
Really? Funny that Bremmer is now talking about an exit strategy.
Surely he had one before, or was than an evil French idea?
Funny thing is, now we're there, any talk of an exit strategy is hopelessly premature. We shouldn't even think about power hand over or anything like that until the situation is normalised. Of course, I'll stand by my view that it would have been easy to achieve after a November invasion.Posted by Dave at November 2, 2003 11:36 PM
"Funny thing is, now we're there, any talk of an exit strategy is hopelessly premature. We shouldn't even think about power hand over or anything like that until the situation is normalised."
The administration said all along that we would 'stay the course' (their words), so there's no contradiction to not having an exit strategy. As for the power handover, everything that the US has stated would happen, has. It might not be happening as quickly as you'd like, but it is happening according to the schedule put forth by the US. At what point does the US get any credit for doing what they say they would?Posted by Ted at November 3, 2003 05:46 AM
"OK, I'll let France off the hook for that particular incident." Rand, you're more forgiving than I am. I don't know if I read any of Michael Leeden articles at the time, but I remember France actively opposing us, in numerous areas, including applying pressure to Turkey, each of which I considered to be crossing the line beyond simple political dissent.
I say welcome the French people that are our friends. However,I would encourage boycott of any country that works against us to the point of putting the lives of the very same American solders that defended their freedom (more than once in the last century) at risk (again much more than once.) No, they don't get a pass from me.
I think there is a bit of sour grapes going on in conservative pro-war circles. After all, not even a trace of WMDs have been found and it's clearly a stretch at this point to say the Americans have been greeted as "liberators". It seems the conservative honeymoon with "the brave Iraqis" is starting to end; one columnist in NATIONAL REVIEW (who recently visited Baghdad) even likened Iraqi attitudes towards the Americans to those of the liberated French after WW II. Ouch!
Say what you will about the French, but their assessment of the Iraq problem seems to have been a lot more accurate so far. Saddam (weakened by wars and sanctions) didn't really pose a threat to other nations after all, and the near-term political and financial cost to the United States will be very high.
Posted by Marcus Lindroos at November 3, 2003 07:37 AM
I know this will disappoint you, Marcus, but we still do not know the disposition of Saddam's WMD--David Kay's report was interim, and wildly misreported, according to the man himself. I don't recall France saying that he didn't have them--only that we had him "in a box."
Well, now he's out of the box, and so are the Iraqi people who were in the box with him. Are you arguing that they were better off with him in power? I doubt you'll find many there who agree with him. The few that do are the ones shooting at us. But as Mark Steyn says, that would have been the result of following French advice.
And Dave, as far as your speculation about the effect of a six-month delay, of course it's safe and convenient for you to stand by it, since it will never be tested.
As for considering the possibility that France was really acting as a friend, I might be willing to do so if there weren't so much counterevidence to the proposition.
It is very clear that they see themselves as a bulwark against us on the world stage. They may continue in that impotent delusion if they wish, but I doubt that we'll pay much attention to them any more--most of us see them for what they are, even if the tranzis in the State Department don't.Posted by Rand Simberg at November 3, 2003 08:02 AM
> I know this will disappoint you, Marcus, but we
> As for considering the possibility that France
Posted by Marcus Lindroos at November 3, 2003 08:29 AM
The Finns in 1940?
In 1940, the Soviet Union INVADED Finland, is that what you're referring to as some sort of uprising?
And what happened in that little tiff? Well, the Soviet military ground its way through the Mannerheim Line, and Finland was forced to concede territory to the USSR. And Finland then allied itself w/ Nazi Germany, in order to reclaim that territory (and ultimately failed, when the USSR won the continuation war).
But it IS interesting to note what an "independent" Finland would do, when it dumped its own elected President (or was he a PM) because the Soviets didn't like him.
Yes, it's very easy to say that people should overthrow their own leaders. But w/o outside help, it is a long, bloody road at best. One wonders whether the prisoners of the Gulag would agree that it was better for them to die for a few decades and the USSR to fall of its own?
And let us not forget that, at the end of the day, the Nazis, the fascists in Italy, Vichy, Quisling, all did not fall simply from internal struggle. Nor was South Korea and Taiwan kept free solely through their own efforts.Posted by Dean at November 3, 2003 08:49 AM
> In 1940, the Soviet Union INVADED Finland, is
Posted by Marcus Lindroos at November 3, 2003 01:21 PM
Are you seriously saying that Finland's (or any other nation's) defense against an outside invader argues that no outside assistance is required?
Are you seriously suggesting that internal opposition movements regularly overthrow the government in power WITHOUT foreign assistance?
And, as for defending liberty, whatever happened to cause the term "Finlandization" to be viewed, not as another term for defending freedom, but as a term for bowing before enormous outside pressure?Posted by Dean at November 3, 2003 01:41 PM
And suddenly good old Tariq is a trustworthy source again?
So he had an argument with Saddam?
You don't see any contradictions even there in your desire to prove something?Posted by Dave at November 4, 2003 01:08 AM
Ah, thought it ought to be somewhere:
Aziz?s account, while provocative, has not been corroborated by other sources, said U.S. officials involved in the interrogations. They said they were aware that Aziz might be trying to pander to his American captors? anger at French and Russian conduct before the war.
Good old Tariq, ever a friend to the US.Posted by Dave at November 4, 2003 01:09 AM
Yes, you just hang on to that straw with all your might, David.Posted by Rand Simberg at November 4, 2003 10:20 AM
If Aziz' claims check out I might have been (cough! cough!) wrong.Posted by Ralf Goergens at November 4, 2003 10:30 AM
It will be very interesting to see whose names, besides George Galloway's, will be found among those "prominent figures" that are apparently amply documented in the Stasi-like files that they've found. I'm sure that one of the reasons that Chirac didn't want Saddam to lose power was exactly to keep such information hidden from the light of day.Posted by Rand Simberg at November 4, 2003 10:37 AM
Yes, you just hang on to that straw with all your might, David
What straw? That I don't trust Tariq Aziz? You think that's a strawman???
Plus given that the "Galloway" files turned out to be faked, what documents are you getting excited about?Posted by Dave at November 4, 2003 11:34 AM
No, not a straw man. A straw. As in "grasping at."
And the Galloway files were faked? Says who?
Here's the story, in this continuation post (though it doesn't specifically mention Galloway).Posted by Rand Simberg at November 4, 2003 12:03 PM
I never have ? not likely to do so again ? posted to a discussion like this ? it is fun to lurk. But I find the whole dialog about France and its relationship to the US (and Britain as well) very interesting. Last year, with limited mobility from a knee operation ? lots of time on my hands, I re-read Winston Churchill?s 6 volume history of the Second World War. Without going into a lot of detail, it is fascinating how many of the problems we face today ? in Iraq, in Europe, and elsewhere ? can be traced back to either the abysmal failure of French political leadership in that period, or the duplicitous actions by French leaders, before, during, and after the war. I am a long way from the days when I studied history as a young college student, but I have trouble remembering when France was a particular friend of the US after the 1700's. (Even then, one has only to read David McCullough?s recent biography of Adams to see that their friendship was, I think, more self interest then friendship. Of course, self interest is defensible, it should just never be confused with something else.) I would conclude that we our basic stance should be to expect little from France, and never put ourselves in a situation where they are on the ?critical path.?Posted by Arthur at November 4, 2003 05:15 PM
The reason France did not want to get into Iraq is quite simple. They did not want to enter into a military swamp.
That region is a powder keg, Saudi Arabia is just waiting to explode. After the French had the experience of the colonial war in Algeria they are not interested into getting in a prolonged war again.
The US will learn the same lesson in due time.
Well, here's the Guardian take, although the Christian Science Monitor and others had to do the real crow eating.
I'd quite like a time machine to send you copies of this. I can just imagine what you'd have been saying if I told you something like; [/begin time travel post]Hey Rand, 6 months from now you're going to be quoting Tariq Aziz to support your arguments...[/end]
You'd have got very very saracastic at that thought.Posted by Dave at November 5, 2003 01:45 AM
Aww Dave, quit pretending you know it all Dave. Do you really believe the Guardian is a more reliable source of information than Tariq Aziz? At least Aziz has proved that he's capable of changing his mind while the Guardian has never wavered in it's support for butchers around the globe (as long as the butchers are opposed to the U.S. of course).
[/begin time travel post] Hey Dave, how long before you start using that politically correct, anti-American, socialist rag, The Guardian, to support your arguments...[/end]Posted by John at November 5, 2003 05:25 AM
Sorry John, as I said, I could have linked to some other sources.
Would you like me to do that John? Would you?
There were others from The Christian Science Monitor who had to formally appologise or get their arses sued, and The Telegraph who were in the same boat as the CSM. And so forth.
As a matter of fact I use all sorts of references, I find those "left wing rags" The Economist and The FT to be very useful too.Posted by Dave at November 5, 2003 06:41 AM
But if you want other sources John...
From the horses mouth...
"An extensive Monitor investigation has subsequently determined that the six papers detailed in the April 25 piece are, in fact, almost certainly forgeries."
Or are the CSM part of the left wing conspiracy too?Posted by Dave at November 5, 2003 06:47 AM
IIRC, the CSM's piece was based on DIFFERENT evidence than what the Telegraph based ITS stories on. Indeed, the Guardian story you cite is specifically noting that the retraction was from the CSM, but NOT the Telegraph.
Note that the Telegraph has not apologized, has not withdrawn its story, and stands by it now.
As important, GAlloway seems not to have proceeded with his intended inquiry.
Finally, the British Labour Party appears to have made clear what IT thinks, by expelling Galloway from its bosom. If it were all fakes from a conservative paper, what are the chances?Posted by Dean at November 5, 2003 07:35 AM
Dean, Galloway was expelled for a bunch of reasons.
I've no trouble in believing he's a nasty and hypocritical piece of work. He may even have taken Saddam's money - hell, if that was an offence, many many leading politicians would be in trouble right now including a few in the US government.
However, the Telegraph have not persued that story since the CSM withdrew theres. I was not aware that Galloway had withdraw his suit however.Posted by Dave at November 5, 2003 10:15 AM
Now you're being disingenuous.
The CSM and the Daily Telegraph stories were based on two separate sets of files. The CSM's files were found to be fraudulent. Citing CSM as evidence of Galloway's perfidy is therefore wrong.
But you make a leap by saying that the DT's stories were ALSO based on fake files, when the DT has made no such admission. If they are not pursuing the story, that no more "proves" that they were using fake evidence than the absence of discussion of Elf-Aquitaine behavior in Le Monde PROVES that France had no dealings with Iraq.
That Galloway is not pursuing the case IS suggestive, however. If he could show that the story was based on fake files, don't you think he'd be trying to get the DT to either retract, or charge them w/ libel, ESPECIALLY after the CSM evidence turned out to be false?
But your overall point is even more bewildering. Are you really trying to suggest that, in all his years in power, Saddam DIDN'T try to suborn various leaders, be they Bedouin tribal leaders in neighboring Saudi or European politicians? Why, because he's Middle Eastern? Or because Western leaders and bureaucrats are never on the take? Hanssen, Ames, the Walker family, and that's just Americans (to the Soviets, not the Iraqis, but the point still stands)!
The Soviets clearly had quite a few people on their payroll, as did the STASI, and so do most intelligence agencies. If we've captured the Iraqi files, doesn't it stand to reason that we'll find various folks who were on the payroll?
Why is this so difficult to conceive?Posted by Dean at November 5, 2003 10:24 AM
Its not the right place to go into a long discourse here about the insanity of British Libel laws, while far too left wing for my tastes, Greg Pallast does a rather good expose on them in The Best Democracy Money can buy.
Basically, suing for libel in the UK is damn dangerous. The DT have not, to my knowledge repeated their claims even when Galloway was kicked out of the labour party - which I find also suggestive. Don't you?
Why is this so difficult to conceive?
Its not, and I'm sure he did. However, I find the idea that papers exist which conveniently point fingers in directions which people want them to to be a little too "neat" for my tastes.
I'm a cynic and a skeptic. The idea of these files backing up Rand's stance is something I find as unlikely as I find the idea of the US planting WMD.
I get more and more worried about this situation every day - especially when Bremner starts talking about hand overs. On this score the French are quite wrong.Posted by Dave at November 5, 2003 01:32 PM
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