How The Weasel Got Screwed?

Steven Den Beste writes on how Jacques Chirac may be playing a losing game of Old Maid with the US and the UK.

I wish I could share his optimism, but I simply don’t see that happening. I think our diplomatic efforts have been a mixture of necessity (keeping Blair in power) and undue optimism (thinking that we can pass a second resolution). Then again, I would love to be proven wrong on that account.

It’s seeming clear that the UN will not approve a second resolution that authorizes force, and that the US will go to war anyway. Granted, there could be a diplomatic miracle resulting in the passage of the second resolution, which would force France to publicly wield their veto power. However, I don’t think even that will be enough to disgrace the French. No matter what, the French will attempt to spin whatever happens in such a way as to reflect negatively upon the US. The already anti-American media in Europe will duly note how dangerous and uncivilzed the US really is.

Of course, anti-Americanism can only get a politician so far. Chirac and Schroeder are starting to see that even if they win on Iraq, it will be a Pyhrric victory. Schroeder is already seeing his base slip as he is unable to do anything to prevent the German economy from swirling the drain. Chirac is likely to be in the same boat before long. In the end, they cannot make their careers on bashing the United States – and even if the diplomatic battle of Iraq does not end in a decisive victory for the US, the chances of the Axis of Weasels becoming a real political force in world affairs seems slim at best.

ADDENDUM: Bill Quick has an absolutely brilliant idea: if we find evidence of French complicity in Iraq we can bring charges against France in the International Criminal Court. It would be a delicious irony, although I have a feeling that the highly partial nature of the ICC would mean that such a maneuver wouldn’t get us far.

4 thoughts on “How The Weasel Got Screwed?

  1. As American hawks now try to make France public enemy #1 for not rubber-stamping our war plans, the US looks even less credible when we suggest that Iraq is a justified target. A desperate attempt to put Chirac and France in the scope of the US rifle along with Iraq will reinforce the predominant global opinion that the US is the ultimate evil here that needs to be stopped. As happens so often, you guys are destroying yourselves with your unbridled hubris.

    It also strikes me as odd how you guys associate economics as the primary motivator behind France’s opposition, but pretend it has nothing to do with the US’s interest, and even if it does, that the US is on the side of angels play the same game of economic-upsmanship you’re villifying France, Germany and Russia for doing. You cite that France and Germany are opposing the war in an effort to damage the US’s economic stature and enhance their own. Sounds kind of convoluted, but if that is the case, put yourself in their shoes and try to justify a case where supporting America in a war with Iraq, where the US would be the primary recipient for the oil loot recovered,would be in their interest. France and Germany undoubtedly see US takeover of Iraqi oil as a slippery way of the US one-upping the EU economically. If I were France and Germany, I would be just as steadfast in my hardline anti-war stance, especially since Hussein does not present any clear and present threat to peace.

    Also on the economics subject, this is the second time you’ve eluded to Europe’s slow-growth economy. Perhaps you’ve forgotten the US is mired in an equally slow-growth economy, and will be strangled with 12-figure deficits for as far as the eye can see. Unemployment rates in America will probably rival those of France and Germany any time soon, but the job losses in lower and working class sectors in America and Europe will be staggering in the coming decades due to global market forces grinding civilized economies as we know them into dust. The line separating European economies with the American one is thin. Make no mistake….we’re both on the fast-track to financial meltdown and this war will only accelerate the pace.

  2. I just want to point to the war/anti-war discourse as it is debated within Germany. The economy is NOT mentioned in that discourse. Of course, that is not saying that such considerations do not play a role. But the reasons politicians (like Schröder or Fischer), but also the ominous “man in the street” do give are mostly these:
    1) The humane factor. War, no matter how sophisticated, does cause suffering. However, this argument does not really get anyone anywhere as there is enough suffering as it is – caused by Saddam.
    2) It was us who put Saddam where is now. Well, of course it was Western (and, if I am not mistaken, also Russian) support that “made” Saddam – in all respects. Jeffery Gedmin of the Aspen Insitute, Berlin, commented such discussion by admitting that, yes, the US (and other nations, including Germany) did support Saddam, and that WAS a mistake, but now it just might be time to correct that mistake.
    3) Schröder himself is in deep sh*t. It was mostly by outspokenly opposing war in Iraq that he managed to win the September 2002 elections that everyone had already considered a sure victory for the opposition party. What with the economy being in such a screwed up situation, a change of mind might actually get Schröder into much more of a no-go situation than he is already in now. So basically right now he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. But again, that is internal German politics and America can not be blamed for saying “so what.”
    4) Now here is a factor that does deserve consideration. It is that typical what happens after a war quesion. There is real, and as I think justified, concern that a war in Iraq will lead to chaos in the entire region. I guess the word that is used to describe such concerns is “wildfire” – instability and unrest and hate and even more violence and turmoil will spread like the plague in 1348 – unless there is a tremendous amount of after-war-management. The thing is, as far as I can see, there is only very very little of that. That proposal a few weeks back to install an American military leader in Iraq for a while seems to illustrate my point.
    5) Another point that causes apprehension is that it looks like Iraq is only a beginning. Then there is Iran, North Korea… (It almost looks like the US is trying to repeat all its military involvement of the 2oth century – when is Germany gonna be on that list?) But seriously, there is nobody in Germany that is afraid the US might ever even consider any kind of action against Germany. People DO consider Americans as their friends. Don’t let diverging political opinions make you believe anything else. But back on topic. There is some concern that there will be more and more wars – and that idea is simply not acceptable in a country that was blamed (and had a good share in it) for causing WW1, that did cause WW2, that had seen military conflict over and over and over again ON ITS OWN SOIL and that has seen the consequences. (And trust me, seeing pictures of concentration camps and devastated Dresden in school and then learning that it was us, our families, our country that caused that is a bit of a bummer. People are not being hypocrats when they say we do not ever want that again – or having a share in causing it.)

    As to bringing charges agains France in the ICC, would that mean that you actually do accept the Court?

  3. Re the French and German position: There are two major reasons I think:

    (1) An honest one. As former French Foreign Affairs Minister has said, the question is, “Who decides?” Who decides to go to war? Now if Iraq really is a fundamental question of American security, then no one denies that American can decide. On the other hand, so far the Administration and the Inspectors are hard put to find evidence which shows that Iraq is a genuine threat to American (as opposed to regional) security. I guess you can disagree with that, but if you accept it, then the French-German position isn’t so crazy. One nation – even the Greatest Superpower the World Has Ever Known – shouldn’t be able to decide by itself to wage an elective war.

    (2) A political one. On the economic front both Schroeder and Chirac are doing right-wing things – pruning back the welfare state. Every day now there are mass firings in France, the Government is doing nothing, and nothing is happening. I’m not sure you realize what a major, revolutionary thing this is for France. Chirac is able to do nothing, and the Left is unable to mount any popular resistance, because Chirac has given the Left what it wants on Iraq – an anti-American stance. Indeed the biggest opposition to Chirac comes from his own party – Liberation announced that 25% of UMP deputies are against a French veto, and it is probably higher – but they won’t bolt the party because they’re getting what they want on the economic front. Strategically it’s brilliant, if anti-French sentiment in the U.S. can be maintained. And, when all the cards are on the table, are the Americans *really* serious about bolting from the trans-Atlantic alliance? Probably not. And even if they are, a French-German-Russian axis is going to have some serious political, military, and economic power.

  4. Sorry, instead of “…if anti-French sentiment in the U.S. can be maintained,” you should of course read the opposite, “…if anti-French sentiment in the U.S. can be contained.”

    My apologies.

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