Tuesday, March 11, 2003
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I WAS WRONG ABOUT FRANCE:
I WAS WRONG ABOUT FRANCE: Last month, I was among one of many in the Blogosphere who said that France would eventually capitulate to United Nations action against Iraq. Some bloggers still believe in this outcome.
Alas, I must admit that this story demonstrates that I was clearly wrong:
"In a dramatic break with the United States, President Jacques Chirac said tonight that France would veto a United Nations resolution threatening war against Iraq.
'My position is that whatever the circumstances, France will vote no,' Mr. Chirac said. He added that he had 'the feeling' that Russia and China, which also have veto power in the Security Council, are prepared to follow France's lead.
Speaking calmly and deliberately during a live television interview in Élysée Palace this evening, Mr. Chirac said he was convinced that the United Nations inspections process was working and that Iraq could be stripped of its dangerous weapons without war.
'The inspectors say that cooperation has improved and that they are in a position to pursue their work,' Mr. Chirac said. 'This is what is essential. It's not up to you or me to say if the inspections are working.'
He added, 'We refuse to follow a path that will lead automatically to war as long as the inspectors don't say to us, "We can't go any further."'"
1) France has now switched to the German position. That first highlighted passage makes it clear that there is simply no point to further deliberations at the Security Council. Saddam Hussein could be caught on tape sitting on a nuclear weapon, or threatening to shoot down U-2 overflights, and France would not change its mind.
This isn't a case of the French behaving as obstreperously as the Americans. For all of the bluster, the U.S. actually demonstrated a willingness to compromise at the Security Council, in the crafting of 1441 and more recently. France has now joined Germany in stating flat-out that it doesn't matter what Iraq does.
2) France is buckpassing on top of its buckpassing. It's not just that Chirac is buckpassing on enforcing Iraq's compliance with Security Council resolutions -- now he's buckpassing on interpreting the effectiveness of the enforcement process itself.
3) The French do want automaticity -- in the other direction. Just read the highlighted parts -- it's pretty clear that there is no circumstance under which France would decide to go to war.
UPDATE: TNR's &c offers a different interpretation.posted by Dan on 03.11.03 at 10:27 AM