I Haven’t Bashed The French In A While.

OpinionJournal: The Coalition Grows: Senators urge “internationalizing” the Iraq force. It’s already happening.
For some reason it seems the French and Germans consider it better to have a UN force in place in Iraq when it was the UN that refused to enforce its own resolutions:

That said, French military planners are drawing up contingency plans to send troops to Iraq in the unlikely event that France is asked to help fulfill a United Nations mandate, senior French officials said. France could put together a force of 8,000 to 10,000 troops, they added.

France is in effect setting the bar for troop deployment so high that Washington will either not ask for French troops or will refuse to accept French conditions for sending them under a United Nations umbrella, officials suggested.

“In one sense, we were sending a signal to Washington,” said one senior French official. “We didn’t want to be faced with having to say no.” He added, “The French Army would feel humiliated to go to Iraq and be put in the same category as the Poles or the Uruguayans as part of the cleanup team.”

Note the arrogance. “Part of the cleanup team.” Iraq is now a “peacekeeping” operation and that’s what the French specialize in; certainly not anything as nasty as war.

Even if they offered their troops without a UN mandate we should refuse them, unless it was unconditional. I mentioned this a few weeks ago:

Increasingly, dealing with Europe is an exercise in realpolitik — principle gives way to expediency. The first question that leaps to mind is: what will it cost us? Not just monetarily, but in terms of policy? How much will we have to compromise with radical Islamists because of Europe’s involvement when we should be seeking to capture or kill each of them? The radical Islamists, not the Europeans.

The work that’s in front of us — guerilla fighting, deBa’athification and the like — is not the kind of thing the French would be useful for anyway. They don’t approve and they don’t have the stomach for it. The Germans I don’t know about.

Besides, the author of the article below has it exactly right: we need countries in there that are committed to the task at hand and the end goal, not hung up on procedure and institutions — especially procedure and institutions that failed to accomplish its goal even after issuing sixteen resolutions.

What the Bush Administration is not doing is precisely what it shouldn’t be doing–internationalizing the effort with countries not committed to seeing it succeed. We’re talking primarily about France and Germany, whose interest in Iraq barely extended beyond oil and arms contracts, and which never thought the Iraqi people were worth their trouble.

In theory, it would be great to have some of their combined 550,000-man NATO-compatible forces at our disposal but not at the cost of giving them or the United Nations substantial say over the future of Iraq. Given the French and U.N. fondness for Saddam Hussein, we couldn’t expect them to endorse de-Baathification or human-rights tribunals. Yet both policies are essential to convincing Iraqis that the days of tyranny are over. The Iraqi people also remember who wanted to oust Saddam, and who didn’t.

The beauty of U.N. Resolution 1483 is that it gives the U.S. and Britain, as “occupying” powers, total authority and flexibility to rebuild the country. Unlike, say, Bosnia, there is no confusing division of authority between the military and civilian administrators. Centcom Commander John Abizaid and Coalition Provisional Authority chief L. Paul Bremer both report to the same man: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Clarity of mission and a clear chain of command, as is pointed out, is a virtue and I don’t see the value in involving any institution that would disrupt that, specifically the UN.

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