and twenty-five years ago, the French were instrumental
in aiding the American revolutionaries in their fight
against the British Empire. Today, they are once again
playing a key role in aiding American fighters against
another sort of Empire – this time, one based in Washington,
de Villepin, French Minister of Foreign Affairs,
idea of regime change [in Iraq] introduces
into international relations an instability whose consequences
we have to assess. Whose job would it be to decide that
a regime is good or that a regime is bad? What would
be the first factor denoting an unacceptable regime?
What would stop a regime being acceptable?"
America crosses the Rubicon, and abandons the legacy
of the Founders for a new age of Caesarism, the French,
threatening to use their UN veto, stand in the way –
and the fury of the War Party has been unleashed, to
often comical effect. Do you want to see hate? Take
a gander at the cover of the [UK] Sun, a
newspaper, nasty even by Murdochian
standards, of the sort that gives tabloids a bad name.
Chirac is depicted as a worm, and the editorial screeches
"You were only too happy to
welcome the Americans when France was crushed under
Hitler's boot. But today you look down on the American
people and their president, and you forget how many
American and British soldiers, sailors and pilots gave
their lives... for the freedom of this country."
But if the French are obligated to kowtow
to the Americans – and Tony Blair – on account of a
debt that can never be repaid, then what about the debt
Americans owe to the French, whose aid during the Revolution
secured our victory over King George III? The Brits
don't want to bring that up, of course, but without
the French we'd all be singing "God save the Queen"
and suffering the ill effects of London's latest socialist
You have to hand it to the War Party,
however: their hate campaign is not so much coordinated
as it is choreographed, with radio "shock jocks"
and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal
dancing to the same tune of "Hate the Frogs."
In Texas, a radio screamer stages a public bulldozing
of French products, and, in Congress, the
cry is heard to impose tariff penalties on our recalcitrant
allies. Why, those effete French know-it-alls, they
yelp, how dare they mock our rootin' tootin' cow-Boy
John Fund, writing in the War Street
notes that some dive in North Carolina has stopped
selling french fries: "We now serve freedom fries,"
announces owner Neal Rowland, who also confides
"The switch from french fries
to freedom fries came to mind after a conversation about
World War I days when anti-German sentiment prompted
Americans to rename familiar German foods like sauerkraut
and frankfurter to liberty cabbage and hot dog."
One wonders if that conversation touched
on some of the other charming effects of World War I
on the country: the lynchings
of German-Americans, the closing
down of German language and socialist newspapers,
and the jailing of antiwar activists for "sedition."
The teaching of German in the schools was banned, and
the works of Goethe were burnt in the public square,
while Wagner was banished from the opera houses. Yes,
it was a great time for "freedom" in America
– and if you don't believe that, then you'd best shut
up and eat your greasy "freedom fries."
Speaking of shutting up, that's exactly
what the heroic Jacques Chirac told the so-called "Vilnius
Group" of "ex"-Communist East European
nations, when they issued their pro-war communique.
"They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet,"
he quipped, and openly questioned whether the Easterners
are ready to join the community of Europe. To Fund this
is "blackmail" – but why should the French
and the Germans absorb economic refugees and debt from
the East while the formerly Communist ministers of what
used to be the Warsaw Pact cozy up to the new hegemon
on the block?
The "Vilnius Group," largely
made up of "reformed" Communist governments
– notably Poland,
(where the Bulgarian
Socialist Party rules) – ought to be renamed the
Vassalage Group. Old habits are hard to break. Including
the habit of not representing the wishes of their own
reject the idea of making war on Iraq even more
emphatically than the West European "street."
What's really a laugh, however, is Fund's
description of the French position as "bullying
unilateralism." Welcome to the Orwellian world
of the War Party, where threatening to not subsidize
the Vassalage Group is the act of a bully, but claiming
the right to preemptively attack any nation on earth
is not. By the same inverted logic, a genuine aggression
– one that will claim many thousands of lives in the
most horrible way – is an act of "liberation."
As long as it's committed by the U.S., and not, say,
cites the outraged cries of the various Vassals, including
Cimoszewicz, the Polish Foreign Minister: "In
the European family, there are no mummies, no daddies
and no kids. It is a family of equals. In particular,
there are no kids who are not mature enough to be partners
with other members of the family."
While it is only natural for an "ex"-Commie
apparatchik to mouth the rhetoric of egalitarianism,
in this case it seems the minister is a case in point
as to why Polish "democracy" still has a lot
of growing up to do. It was Cimoszewicz, after all,
who barely survived a no confidence vote in the Polish
parliament for unilaterally
surrendering Polish sovereignty at the EU bargaining
table – completely contrary to the instructions of the
Poles' elected representatives.
Reynolds of Instapundit and Charles
Paul Freund of Reason magazine both cite
a Romanian newspaper's angry retort
to the French: "Communism wrung our neck while
the honorable democracies issued communiqués."
Yes, and the same Commies are still wringing
their necks – and ours, too. If these former fans of
the Red Army are so eager to see Iraq "liberated,"
then let them send their own armies in to do the job,
perhaps in conjunction with the Israelis. Let's put
the cheerleaders on the field and see how they score!
Goldberg calls the French "cheese-eating surrender
monkeys," – a trope borrowed from "The
Simpsons" – and informs us he considers this
"a funny ethnic slur." For someone
who considers the term "neocon" or neoconservative
to be a libel right out of the Protocols
of the Elders of Zion, his "bandying about"
– as he puts it – of ethnic slurs is awfully bold.
But Goldberg, when he gets over the obligatory joking,
has a serious point to make. He claims that the European
model of slow, peaceful transition to the international
rule of law is only a confession of weakness:
"Their own military capacities
are woefully deficient, and so they champion peace at
any cost in part because they're loath to admit they
couldn't fight if they wanted to."
That France does not have either the
capacity or the will to invade, conquer, and occupy
Iraq means – what? That they would if they could but
they can't? This is about the level of analysis one
might expect of someone who gets his foreign policy
views from a cartoon show. Cartoonish is the best way
to describe the neocon view of history, as expressed
"It's a classic free-ride [sic]
problem. The Europeans have benefited from the global
stability provided by the United States. But the Europeans – or
at least the French and Germans – now take that stability
for granted and berate the United States for doing what
it sees as necessary to ensure continued peace and prosperity.
Unfortunately, the idea that violence never solves anything
is a fraud. Violence ended the Holocaust; in the U.S.,
it freed the slaves. And, in 1998, American-led violence
ended slaughter in the Balkans while European paper
shufflers stood by paralyzed."
"stability" provided by the U.S. for half
a century was the stability of perpetual terror – the
terror of Mutual Assured Destruction, and several bloody
wars fought on the Asian landmass (Vietnam, Korea, and
the battle for China), none of which we won. Some "stability"!
In the post-cold war, post-9/11 world, it is the U.S.,
and not the French or the Germans, who want to plunge
the entire Middle East into chaos and spark World
idea that "violence ended the Holocaust" seems
oddly disingenuous: after all, with large scale moral
catastrophes of this sort, the point to note is that
World War II did not and could not prevent the
Holocaust. That war, in any case, was not fought to
stop the Holocaust, just as the Civil War was not fought
to end slavery, but to keep tariffs high and enslave
the separate states to the federal government. As
for ending the alleged "slaughter in the Balkans,"
will somebody please tell me why a known
Clinton-hater like Goldberg swallows this
particular Clintonian fib with such Lewinskyan alacrity?
Goldberg and his fellow neocons, including
Freund and Fund, miss the most interesting aspect of
"New Europe" versus "Old Europe"
split: the ideological coloration of the combatants.
The nations that have lined up behind the American hegemon
are all ruled by parties of the Left, from Tony Blair's
"New Labor" to the "former" hard-line
Stalinists who now run Poland. On the other hand, Jacques
Chirac is a Gaullist,
a stalwart of the French center-right. What divides
these two Euro-tendencies is different approaches to
the question of national sovereignty.
To the ex-members of the Warsaw Pact,
internationalism trumps national independence – which
is why, as late as the 1990s, the current Prime Minister
of Poland was openly bemoaning the exit of the Red Army
from his country. Certainly Blair attaches no importance
to such an outmoded idea as nationalism: he is currently
trying his best to submerge the British nation in the
Euro-colossus and transfer sovereignty from London to
On the other hand, independence
is the chief guiding principle of the Gaullists, and
always has been. Their politics are not anti-American,
but pro-French, and revolve around a profound sense
of French national identity and a modified but recognizable
market economy. Chirac, in short, is a market nationalist,
one who sees the relations between nations as governed
by the rules of commerce and diplomacy, rather than
power politics and threats of invasion.
the American model is imperial, hegemonic, and impatiently
unilateral, the Franco-German alternative is pacific,
collaborative, and evolutionary. The EU is socialistic,
bureaucratic, hostile to all forms of nationalism, and
just as potentially hegemonic as its American rival.
Yet, Chirac and his European allies, whether they realize
it or not, are defending the mortal enemy of bureaucratic
internationalism -- the idea of national sovereignty
– against the American "hyperpower."
his Los Angeles Times screed against the French,
Goldberg inverts the leftist canard that "it's
all about oil" and points to French oil contracts
with Iraq as evidence that Chirac's anti-war stance
is motivated by mercenary interests. This should have
been followed by the standard Seinfeldian
disclaimer: "Not that there's anything wrong with
that." Goldberg is supposed to be a pro-market
conservative: so why shouldn't the French take
their own entirely legitimate commercial interests into
As long as Bin Ladenism and other even
more gruesome opponents serve as the ideological counterpoint
to American neo-imperialism, the "us against them"
mentality of the Bush administration makes a crude sort
of sense, at least as a propaganda theme. But as the
U.S. embarks on a course set for Empire, its main adversaries
will increasingly be found among its closest allies
– those with whom it shares the legacy of Western liberalism,
and the values that are the very foundations of our
"progressivism," and American
hegemonism – these are the three principal contractors
bidding on the building of a new world order. The first
would uphold national sovereignty and some variant of
the market economy as the twin pillars of international
relations: their first principle is decentralism. The
"tranzies," as they're called, are internationalists,
and socialists to boot: their guiding light is the UN,
which they believe should rule the world (in a power-sharing
arrangement with the NGOs,
of course). The American hegemonists, for their part,
see Washington, D.C. as the New Rome, and Bush 43 as
the first American Caesar – and that is what this war
is all about.
The outbreak of war in Iraq will mean
that the hegemonists are on the offensive, and, at that
point, only a united front of the market nationalists
and their tranzi allies will be able to stop them. Whether
this is possible, let alone probable, is impossible
to tell. But the refusal of France's "cheese-eating
surrender monkeys" to surrender to American demands
is an encouraging sign, and a stand that is fully and
rightly appreciated, at some level, by the antiwar movement
in this country. At the recent protest rally in San
Francisco, France was lauded from the speakers' platform,
and with that I can only concur:
"Vive la France!"
At the height of World War II, when
the Americans landed in Normandy, and proceeded to liberate
France, their battle-cry was "Lafayette, we are
here!" Today, as the French step in between us
and some who wish to recreate the Anglo-American empire
of King George III, they are once again rendering us
invaluable aid. A great debt is being repaid: our friends
abroad may yet save us from a fate far worse than befell
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