When Bush and co. were pushing for war in Iraq, France led the opposition at the UN. I was and remain unhappy with France’s opposition because I believe it was just as poorly motivated as Bush’s war stance: it stemmed from France’s lucrative oil contracts with Saddam Hussein’s government and significant Iraqi debt towards France which the US is now asking France to forgive.
But there’s another issue which Clinton addresses in a recent interview with Le Monde (ignore the out-of-context and misleading title of the article).
Opposition to a premature war is one thing, but France and Germany went beyond that stance: they were effectively opposed to war against Iraq in all cases, no matter what the UN inspectors might discover. This meant the UN would never believably threaten war. Yet threatening war is usually more important than actually fighting war.
So the French were just as guilty as the US of refusing to judge the situation objectively, based on the inspectors’ report. In prematurely closing the door to an objective UN assessment with all possibilities on the table, the French handed American neocons a freebie. If the UN refused to help regardless of the situation on the ground, what would have been the point of involving them in the first place?
That’s not to say the French are to blame for Bush’s irresponsible war in Iraq. But maybe a more objective stance from France might have tempered the neocon extreme.
Sometimes, one extreme helps another. The outcome isn’t pretty.
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