Monday, September 22, 2003
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Jacques Chirac flunks international relations theory
Today is the beginning of comprehensive exams for some graduate students in my department at the University of Chicago. To those students -- good luck, and stop wasting time reading this drivel!!
I thought about the exams after reading the New York Times' exclusive interview with Jacques Chirac (see also the accompanying news story). For Chriac, I could provide a set of customized questions after reading the interview. Three samples:
In what way will the transfer of de jure sovereignty without de facto responsibility accelerate statebuilding in Iraq? Is sovereignty without responsibility merely an example of organized hypocrisy, or is there normative content to this concept?
Please reconcile your theory of emerging blocs with the statement that the U.S. and Europe share the same values and interests.
Given the history of uprisings against Saddam Hussein prior to 2003, please identify a theory -- any theory -- of world politics that would be consistent with your prediction.
Alas, I fear Chirac would not pass the exam. His international relations worldview is about as clear as.... as.... Salma Hayek has been on what she wants in a man. [Where the hell did that come from?--ed. If you read Salma's comments, you'll see that it's an apt analogy!!]posted by Dan on 09.22.03 at 10:53 AM
I actually don't think Hayek is contradicting herself. She says most men act macho because they're weak and can't really confront things. To her, a manly man would be able to get in touch with his feminine side without fear or shame, because real masculinity involves the strength to confront things directly and honestly.
I can't help with Chirac, though.posted by: Joe G. on 09.22.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]
Thank you for defending my honor Joe. You've got balls but you're sensitive and sophisticated enough to understand the nuances of my complex position. Thus I would like to reward you by re-enacting my dance from the movie "From Dusk til Dawn", only this time I won't turn into a vampire and bite you (unless you want me to, you stud you).
Oh, and Chirac is a weenie. Nice work Dan.posted by: Salma on 09.22.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]
WOO-HOO!!posted by: Joe G. on 09.22.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]
In what way will the transfer of de jure sovereignty without de facto responsibility accelerate statebuilding in Iraq?
Why will the transfer of sovereignty necessarily be absent the transfer of responsibility? Put the reconstruction effort (ie money) under Iraqi control, with UN oversight, and voila, responsiblity is theirs.
Please reconcile your theory of emerging blocs with the statement that the U.S. and Europe share the same values and interests.
GM and Ford presumably share the same values and interests (ie liberal democracy, free markets and free trade, minimal government interference). Would you say they were not competing blocs?
posted by: flory on 09.22.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]
Chirac was playing footie in Iraq for years, and raking in the dinar... piastres... shekels... francs...
Until that American storm hit, and
"Why will the transfer of sovereignty necessarily be absent the transfer of responsibility? Put the reconstruction effort (ie money) under Iraqi control, with UN oversight, and voila, responsiblity is theirs."
In the spirit of Drezner's examination motif for this post, I ask in the guise of a professor:
"Please read through the above statement. List and describe all of the logical fallacies contained therein."
To get you started, I will point out the easiest ones.
First of all, instituting "UN oversight" would merely be substituting the UN for the U.S., in terms of who would have ultimate de facto responsibility.
And where is this reconstruction money coming from? (And don't say the oilfields. They won't be reliable sources of income until the country is secure, which it won't be quite a while yet.)
Don't you think those who are supplying the funds, whether it be the U.S., the UN or some combination, will insist on the ultimate authority over how it is spent? And won't that prove Drezner's point -- that de jure authority means little without de facto responsibility?
Chirac's push for immediate Iraqi sovereignty -- with UN oversight, naturally -- is in reality simply a cynical power play to replace the U.S., which Chirac is virtually powerless to control, with the UN, where he has a major say, and veto, over what transpires. It's not about "Iraqi sovereignty" at all. Just as Chirac's opposition to the war in the first place wasn't about any rarified principle, either.
Chirac's greatest sin of course was that he was RIGHT - right about the nature and extent of the threat that Saddam posed, right about the legitimacy of an armed intervention in the eyes of the rest of the world, and right about the the fact that rebuilding Iraq will require international cooperation. The fact that he was right makes him doubly guilty in the eyes of a US public opion whipped into hyteria by a slavish media.
After all is not Chirac that said that Saddam was actively pursuing WMDs and that he was conspiring with Al Qaeda and that the Iraqis would greet us with flowers and sweets and that the oil of Iraq would pay for the reconstruction and that everything would be just honky dory and that if you had doubts about this war you were a commie and traitior and deserved to be shot on the spot. It is not the French media that fostered a climate of mass hysteria (tonight at 8:00: "Battle for Freedom!" Right after "Joe Billionaire"!) or published lies (France issues passports to Saddam loyalists, French firms sell weapons to Iraqis, Saddam is in France ... etc)...
I was in Paris this summer and its all to the benefit of the French that they do not respond to the hysterical provocations of the US media. They're acting like grown ups - like their president in fact. Come to think of it they are the country rationality and the enlightenment so this makes sense.
The climate of hate and anger and hysteria that prevails in the United States is deeply worrying. This country is going down the tubes. Perhaps I should move to France and hang out with Johnny Depp and other Americans who haven't gone off the deep end.
posted by: proton on 09.22.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]
Well, au revoir already.
Cordially...posted by: Rick on 09.22.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]
C'ya. Don't leave any of your dirty laundry behind you either.posted by: quark2 on 09.22.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]
"I think he could have been overthrown without a war. I think that political pressure would have led to Saddam’s disappearance."
That's probably right but we couldn't put real political pressure on Saddam because someone's oil companies (TotaFinaElf) was making deals with him, and someones leaders were announcing they would veto any attempts to overthrow him in the Security Council.
When threats are believed you get Charles Taylor leaving Liberia, when they are not war becomes far more likely. Thanks Jacque.posted by: ruprecht on 09.22.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]
I don't think anyone believes for a second that the U.S. was not going in, no matter what, so the argument that the French precipitated war by threatening to use their veto is really disingenuous . This administration had made up its mind and they were not going to let facts get in the way. In fact that is what hardened the French position in Jan-Feb last year. The French had believed the US was serious about inspections and believed they were dealing in good faith. They then came to the realization that the US was only paying lip service to the UN and that war was about to start in March regardless of any progress in the inspections process. They had been duped - this led to the now famous meeting where Powell was summoned to hear de Villepin not very skillfully state that they were sticking by the inspections regime and would push for it to be carried out to its conclusion, that is until the inspectors themselves declared they had hit a wall.
The argument that France opposed the war because of oil contracts is just plain silly. 1. French interests in Iraq are not nearly as sizeable as Fox News or WSJ or Telegraph or NY Post claim. 2. France stood a much better chance of benefiting economically by being PART of the coalition (and being part of the reconstruction process) than by opposing it. In fact getting rid of Saddam and being part of the coalition was the best way to profit from the oil contracts.
You are ignoring a great many facts.
Money - the TotalElf Fina contracts were swetheart deals worth BILLIONS of dollars, and France had been pushing for the *lifting of sanctions* so that they could actually happen. Why in the world would France push for the lifting of sanction if the best way to profit was by knocking off Saddam? Not to mention the millions they were making in the Oil-For-Food ("food" apparently means "palaces" in Arabic) programs - meaning they were eager to trade those millions for the money to made if the sanction s were lifted... In what way could reconstruction (split among many parties, if France were to get a peice) possibly compare?
Let's see, billions of dollars in oil versus a slight ratings bump for a few months, split among many competitors...
Not to mention that to say that those media companies can control this implies that they have Bush in their pocket... not even the most liberal have said that (they just say it about the oil companies).
"Disingenuous"? Disingenuous is when the UN resolution required full, complete, and immediate cooperation on the part of Iraq; the inspectors say they are not getting complete cooperation (in a public report to the UN); then the inspectors declare that they are going to keep inspecting anyway.
What part of "last chance" and "complete cooperation" do you not understand? Oh wait, it's really just your semi-kinda- last chance, like all the others...
The "inspection regime" returned their results - Iraq did not meet the requirements set out in the resolution (voted FOR by France, if you recall).
So, what are the "serious consequences"? Apparently, to the French, serious consequences are business are usual. Pardon me if I think that is a pathetic, back-stabbing joke.
How many final chances? How many resolutions? How many years of sanctions and second chances? How many innocent people fed through industrial plastic shredders (among other things)?
"Chirac's greatest sin of course was that he was RIGHT"
No, even if he WAS right (for the sake of argument, I will grant the point for now), his greatest sin was stabbing us in the back. "Serious consequences"... like the same failed inspection regime that has been going on for years. oooOOOOOoooo.... it's so scary... so SERIOUS...
"The climate of hate and anger and hysteria that prevails in the United States is deeply worrying."
It must be really scary in your little world in your head. Here in the real world, there has been no increase in crimes against muslims (other than a very, very small bump right after 9/11 - certainly smaller than the increase in crime against Jews in Europe... oh, now THERE's a climate of hate and anger!), the "hysteria" level has been far, far smaller than the hysteria over Y2K, and the anger is completely justified - I think the deliberate targetting of thousands of civilians is worth being angry about.
You want to go live in France? Go right ahead - here in America, you are free to do that... as opposed to Iraq under Hussein.posted by: Deoxy on 09.22.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]
- I stand by the statement that the French had more to gain economically if they had been part of the coalition and that they opposed the war in spite of these interests.
- "Why in the world would France push for the lifting of sanction if the best way to profit was by knocking off Saddam? "
- As far as I know all UN officials involved in the inspections were cautiously satisified by their progress and recommended that the inspections continue. It was possible at the time of course to believe, as claimed by the U.S. media, that they were incompetent and that the Bush administration had in its possession exclusive information on Saddam's WMDs. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to believe this. The shocking truth is that the U.S. had zero evidence to back up their claims. The inspectors have been vindicated (so much for 'failed inspections').
I'm afraid this administration has lost all credibility. American power is important for the stability of the world, unfortunately it has been wasted on vain and ill-conceived project.posted by: proton on 09.22.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]
I want to hearken back to an earlier statement by proton, if you don't mind:
"I don't think anyone believes for a second that the U.S. was not going in, no matter what, so the argument that the French precipitated war by threatening to use their veto is really disingenuous."
Sorry to contradict you, but apparently one rather key player in all of this who did believe the U.S. was not going in was Saddam himself.
Several members of Hussein's leadership have insisted in post-war interviews that Saddam believed even up to the last minute that the U.S. would not actually attack. According to these insiders, Saddam was a voracious consumer of the international media, and was led to believe that Bush ultimately would never defy international pressure to stay out of Iraq. This belief by Saddam encouraged him to continue to play games with the inspectors.
Incidentally, leftists who argue that the failure to discover mass quantities of WMDs in the wake of the war means they never existed in the first place, and that Bush "lied" about their existence, still haven't explained why Saddam would endure a decade of sanctions and brinksmanship to protect something he never had.
Proton, perhaps you can explain why the French stopped backing the inspections in 1996 and abstained from the vote that enabled UNSCOM? How did they back up the inspections in 2002/03? What credible (and I mean credible) alternative did they offer to the options of sanctions or war? How would France have participated in putting that alternative into practice? Did Chirac sell a nuclear reactor to Saddam or didn´t he? Did he really spend over 2 million Euros on 'groceries' when he was mayor of Paris? Why is it so damn important not to remove Saddam from power? Give me a few examples where the French put 'legitimacy in the eyes of the world' above their perceived national interests.
I read the German newspapers, by the way. You know, France´s great ally. Compared to the dumb anti-American hysteria of the last months, the US media look relatively balanced and reasonable to me. I wonder if the French media you praise are able to display as much self-criticism. From what I have seen in translations...well, enlightened is not the word that came to mind.
And this I know for certain: no one here in Germany or in France gives a shit about the Iraqis.posted by: Werner on 09.22.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]
While we´re at it, Proton: Is it your impression that France is trying to help the reconstruction of Iraq? How? As our foreign minister once shouted at Mr. Rumsfeld: "You have to make the case. I am not convinced."posted by: Werner on 09.22.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]
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