Wednesday, August 22, 2007

France Regaining Reason?

The media world is all buzzing with what they perceive to be a shift in French policy concerning the war in Iraq. Just do a news search on any search engine and you'll turn up something along the line of, "France shifts policy toward Iraq, France ready to play role in Iraq, et al.

Here is the IHT's article for instance:

After years of shunning involvement in a war it said was wrong, France now believes it may hold the key to peace in Iraq, proposing itself as an "honest broker" between the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions.


I wish them good luck, with that. And I am not being sarcastic, when I say it.

I say it because, there's a lot of bad blood between these factions, which is why I have thought the best course of action was to have three autonomous regions, from the start. (But, hey, nobody asked me. I never got a call.)

The shift was one of the most concrete consequences yet of the thaw in French-American relations following the election in May of President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose administration no longer feels bound by the adamant refusal to take a role in Iraq that characterized the reign of his predecessor, Jacques Chirac.


If I might insert my thoughts here, I would say that the reason this policy appears to be changing is simple:

Under Chirac, the underlying philosophy was to not trust the United States. In fact, the passive-aggressive nature of the French government under Mr. Chirac, basically told me that there was a hope that this would somehow weaken the U.S., so that the world would turn to Europe, with France being the driving force. France not ratifying the EU Constitution threw a wrench into this equation, which ultimately led to Chirac's exit from both the world stage and his own country's, as well.

Chirac may have cared some about peace and stability in the Middle East, except when the Americans figured into the equation. His support of a brutal dictator named Saddam Hussein, tells the story here.

But somehow, I think that President Sarkozy has a different view.

He does not envision a revival of the Roman Empire, with France driving the train. But, he sees the need for peace and stability in Iraq, as well as, the entire Middle East. Most importantly, he also sees the need for the U.S. to remain a strong ally of Europe. Because he knows what is looming on the horizon.

Don't think that he doesn't understand there are
threats arising in the distance that will only serve to complicate matters more, than they already are. Don't think that his world view is void of reason and understanding about a new power structure that could someday threaten the existences of free nations, everywhere.

What he and his diplomatic corps can do about the violence in Iraq, remains to be seen. It's going to be tough, if not downright impossible. But, it's good to know that we seem to have re-gained an valuable ally that is willing to explore the possibilities, instead of pour salt on the wounds and take potshots at every twist and turn.

The people of France can rest assured there will be no troops sent, I seriously doubt any of that has been discussed. But, opening the door to diplomacy with France being an honest broker in the process, should be welcomed by all parties, especially those that truly value freedom.

12 comments:

Greg said...

You are correct that Chirac's goal was to sabotage the American effort in Iraq, and do everything to make sure Iraq descended into chaos. That way he could stick out his chest and say he was "right" (to protect his buddy Saddam). One great example was his initial refusal to help train Iraqi troops at all, and then haggling over where NATO might be allowed to train them (the Iraqis have to travel out of country for NATO training, thanks to Jacko).

There is an obvious difference with Sarkozy, who is kind of a Gaullist-Light. Gaullists are by definition not allies of the US, but a "turning platform" b/w powers to the east (Russia) and west (US), turning towards one/away from the other as it suits France best. The theory (correct, I think) is that this maximizes France's power on the international stage.

So, yeah, Sarkozy is going to turn a little bit towards the US with regards to Iraq (but only a little). However, he has actually accelerated Chirac's horrible policy in Afghanistan by saying he would withdraw the remaining non-combat troops. He also recently sold missiles to Qadaffi.

In short, Sarkozy is just about the best we could hope for from a French politician. Though I personally prefer his foreign minister, Kouchner. He a socialist, but a closet neo-con. He may be my favorite French politician....

LASunsett said...

Greg,

//Gaullists are by definition not allies of the US, but a "turning platform" b/w powers to the east (Russia) and west (US), turning towards one/away from the other as it suits France best.//

During the Cold War, I guess it suited France best to have its missiles aimed at what was then West Germany so as to hit the Soviet forces as they came across the Iron Curtain, if that was ever to have happened. As I recall, there were none aimed at the U.S.

So, deep down, I think most French know that they have little to fear from the U.S. and much to fear from others. They may say they they hate America and may even give weak reasons why. But they have to know that we are not their enemy.

Anonymous said...

Greg, I need your expertise here.
Which is the good guy if any?
http://tinyurl.com/3aq2b2

Or this one?
http://tinyurl.com/2k2o42

Unless it is this one?
http://tinyurl.com/9n2e7

And to top it all, I read this piece on a most famous American outlet.
http://tinyurl.com/2bfow2

Ô the evil that could have been avoided had France not lost reason in the first place...

Flocon

Anonymous said...

LA, can you please give a link that would be evidence that "the French" hate America?
May I suggest the verb "to dislike" rather than "to hate"? May I also suggest that "the French" (a certain percentage) hold certain negative views about America but certainly don't hate her.
I don't know the percentage but my guess is that a certain number of Americans dislike (or do they hate?) Mexicans for example. Or Canadians. So what? Isn't everyone entitled to one's own tastes and opinions?

Flocon

LASunsett said...

Hi Flocon,

//can you please give a link that would be evidence that "the French" hate America?//

Point well-taken. Poor choice of words and it is merely a result of typing in haste. I should amend:

They may say they they hate America

TO

SOME may say they hate America...

Do I think that some French hate America? Yes.

Do some Americans hate France? Yes.

I think that every group (based on race, ethnicity, nationality, or whatever) has people within its ranks that hate others that are different from them. Most of it is based on ignorance and some of it goes a long way back.

I had the occasion to visit my biological father a couple of years ago. He was in the US Navy during WWII, in the Pacific. He still hates the Japanese to this day. He'll say he doesn't hate them, all day long. But by his words and comments, it is evident that he still does.

I might add that the visit didn't go well, while I was there. I have nothing in common with the man, I was raised by my step-father, who was a worldly man that made a career in the US Air Force, then went on to become a history professor, after he retired from his military service. My biological father was a cop, and has a very narrow view of the world. My step-father had some narrow views, but not nearly as much as many of his generation.

So, hatred is not something that people will readily admit to. But by their actions and words, they openly display it for all to see.

Take some that comment on SF's blog, for instance. I do believe, there are a few that do hate America, they have very little good to say about it. They may not say it, in those words, but from the comments they make, it is very apparent that they do. A few make ridiculous generalizations about Americans and their country, most of which have no clue as to what this country is all about.

There is no homogenous society that I know of. And we all must tolerate the idiots among us, because to call them out does no good. It only exacerbates the situation and inflames passions that are already ingrained into their belief system. People cannot change other people. It is up to the individual to change, but first, he/she must recognize the need to change.

LASunsett said...

//Ô the evil that could have been avoided had France not lost reason in the first place...//

Oh, the evil that could have been avoided had Chirac been able to talk Saddam into allowing the UN inspectors, the ability to verify there were no weapons.

Anonymous said...

LA, thanks for your long answer.
What made me react to is the choice of your word. Maybe the verb "to hate" bears less strengh and power in English than in French.
I understand that -generally speaking- Palestinians hate Israelis and vice-versa. Or Serbs vis à vis Kosovars for example.
But by following your line ("I think that every group (based on race, ethnicity, nationality, or whatever) has people within its ranks that hate others that are different from them.") you might as well say that Argentinians hate Brazilians, Dutch hate Norwegians or Italians hate French, ad lib. Which eventually makes no sense.
Regarding the attitude toward the US, in which country can you safely say that there aren't people who "hate" it? There are far more people who feel uncomfortable with America in Spain or Mexico or Canada for example than in France. Even in GB, the feeling regarding America isn't exactly unbound love. The same goes in Japan.
According to your understanding of international relations, there's no reason to single out the French or France as the paragon of America as an object of hatred.
No, finally and contrary to what you may think, I don't object this use of the verb "to hate" that is so often to be found in the American media and among a large swath of Americans when they think France and the US.
I may commit a post at SF's about it.

Anonymous said...

regarding the inspections in Iraq. There were UN inspectors in Iraq, you perfectly know that. Chirac didn't have to convince Saddam to let them in and check. They already were in. As if Chirac was influential with S. Hussein...
See what CBS reported at the time.
http://tinyurl.com/66w9

But feel free to believe over 3720 American lives had been lost because of Chirac's opposition to this war.
Well, eventually you've convinced me: Chirac is responsible for the greatest American disaster after Vietnam.

Flocon

LASunsett said...

Flocon,

//there's no reason to single out the French or France as the paragon of America as an object of hatred.//

The post was about the media's perceived shift by the French government. Greg made a comment, I merely made a comment back. The word hate was only used as part of my answer and was not the central theme of the post or the comment I made to Greg.

If the post had been about Russia's perceived shift and Greg had made a similar comment, I would have used Russia instead of France.

And you are right, we are hated by certain people in almost every country. We are used to it. But even still, when there is a need, we still try to fill it. When Iran had a horrendous earthquake a few years back, we were prepared to send a lot of aid, but they turned it down.

//regarding the inspections in Iraq. There were UN inspectors in Iraq, you perfectly know that.//

Come on Flocon, you know as well as I do that Saddam wasn't cooperating. Sure, UN inspectors were in Iraq. But he played this "cat and mouse" game, the entire time. It even went back to the Clinton administration. Read here.


//Well, eventually you've convinced me: Chirac is responsible for the greatest American disaster after Vietnam.//

No one said that he, alone, was responsible for anything.

He didn't do much of anything except say don't do it, in a judgmental manner, all the while knowing that the oil for food scandal was in high gear. I do not recall him exerting pressure on anyone but the U.S. He certainly didn't put any pressure on Saddam, did he?

So you are right, he didn't do much at all, did he? Some great statesman he was.

Rocket said...

Flocon Ugh!

"There are far more people who feel uncomfortable with America in Spain or Mexico or Canada for example than in France. Even in GB, the feeling regarding America isn't exactly unbound love. The same goes in Japan."

Oh really? O'Reilly

Fortunately we are graced by the "vox humana" of the ultimate truth setting us on the straight and narrow. Flocon, Have you ever been to Japan? Flocon have you ever been to the USA? Flocon have you ever been to Britain? Flocon have you ever been to Palestine? Flocon have you ever been to Israel? Flocon have you ever been to Mexico?

You know nothing about the Japanese society so I suggest you don't set yourself as pendantic. You know nothing of the Israeli society so I suggest you you don't set yourself as pendantic. You know nothing of the Spanish society so I suggest you don't you don't set yourself as pendantic.

You take one word, "hate" and you throw volumes of "kiosque à journaux" inspired pendantic verbal detritus around it hoping to create a labyrinth of confusion through what you have established as your moral high ground.

Yet where have YOU been and what have YOU done that gives you this superior knowledge?

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/22/europe/22france.php

You have "maintes fois" established yourself as "hyper suceptible" to almost the point of schizophrenia when it come to any comments made about France.(ratatouille - anti French)etc Yet, your posts on blogs such as my good friend SF show your real ignorance of the world other than that of the world you have created for yourself behind the safety of your little kiosk.

Rocket said...

Link should be

http://tinyurl.com/ypsodr

Ben said...

Chirac's goal was to sabotage the American effort in Iraq... The chaos in Iraq is because of French...

Please, stop watching Fox News and try to use your head.

Why France is always the reason of all the problem of USA ? Oh, sorry, Ben Laden was French, and France killed Kenedy too.

The facts are : France, LIKE UN AND MANY OTHER COUNTRIES, (why everytime blame only France?) tried to prevent USA from doing this stupid war. Usa did this war. Today it's the chaos.

Well, it's so easy to say that a country is responsible for its own mistakes.