France Screws The Poodle Again

OpinionJournal: Au Revoir, Petite France: In one blow, Chirac shattered the U.N., NATO and the EU.
France couldn’t have done a better job of sabotaging every multilateral institution they claim to value if they had set out to do so. Matters were made worse — actually better in my view — when France threatened to veto any resolution “allowing” America and Britain to administer a post-war Iraq.

French President Jacques Chirac, a staunch opponent of war in Iraq, said on Friday the United Nations must be at the center of efforts to rebuild the country whatever the outcome of the conflict.

He ruled out any retroactive U.N. blessing for the U.S.-led war to oust President Saddam Hussein or any resolution that gave Washington and London post-war administrative control in Iraq. “This idea of a resolution seems to me to be a way of authorizing military intervention after the event, and so is not, in my point of view, fitting in the current situation,” Chirac told a news conference.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair earlier said London wanted two new U.N. resolutions setting up a trust fund to use Iraqi oil wealth to rebuild the country and creating a post-Saddam administration.

“France would not accept a resolution which authorizes military intervention and gives the United States and Britain administrative powers in Iraq,” Chirac said.

“Whatever the results of the military operation…it must be rebuilt, and for that there is just one forum — the United Nations,” he added.

Some commentators in France fear that the United States will now dominate the process of reconstruction of Iraq.

Responding to Chirac’s remarks, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States was consulting with members of the U.N. Security Council “as to what is appropriate as we move forward.”

“All I know is that the liberation of Iraqi is under way and we want to do it in a way that will demonstrate to the world that we come as liberators, that we’re going to put in place a better life for the people of Iraq, a representative form of government,” Powell said.

Given France’s complete disdain for everything that’s occurred thus far, including them would be a horrible mistake and, thankfully, they have now given us a perfect excuse to avoid the UN altogether. The only possible help the UN could be is that they could persuade other countries to cough up money for Iraq’s rebuilding and, frankly, I’d rather we paid for it ourselves than end up in hock to that corrupt institution or the French. Both they and Russia can eat the debts owed to them by the Saddam-controlled Iraq.

In fact, I’m opposed to an additional UN resolution because it would legitimize the behavior of the French over the last few months. It would show that we can be rolled. Screw that, let them reap the whirlwind. Actions have consequences and they should be made to feel the full consequences of their marginalization.

Last weekend’s Azores summit foreshadowed a new era in geopolitics. It reminds us of the old wartime meetings between Roosevelt and Churchill in which the two leaders planned the next phase of the war against Hitler. As President Bush left the meeting assured of a French veto of the resolution, the world finally moved on from the stalemate of the previous two weeks at the U.N.

We shall see much more of this kind of diplomacy in the future, in which deals are struck on a bilateral or trilateral basis to suit the needs of the moment. Roosevelt and Churchill’s meetings were often attended by one or more government heads, whose presence was deemed relevant to the subjects discussed.

At the heart of the new diplomacy will be, of course, what Charles De Gaulle then (and Jacques Chirac now) bitterly called “Les Anglo-Saxons”–America and Britain, whose common culture and attachments to freedom and democracy make them not just allies, but “family.” Building on this sure foundation, the U.S., as the sole superpower, will make its arrangements with other states on an ad hoc basis rather than through international organizations.

We have to face the ugly fact: Internationalism–the principle of collective security and the attempt to regulate the world through representative bodies–has been dealt a vicious blow by Mr. Chirac’s bid to present himself as a world statesman, whatever the cost to the world. France is a second-rate power militarily. But because of its geographic position at the center of Western Europe and its nominal possession of nuclear weapons, which ensures its permanent place on the U.N. Security Council, it wields considerable negative and destructive power. On this occasion, it has exercised such power to the full, and the consequences are likely to be permanent.

One can only hope.

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