Consider the practical effects of French cheerleading for Saddam:
* Saddam should feel hopeless by now; instead, he has been led to believe that, even if war cannot be averted, he has a real chance of defeating the United States diplomatically by fighting our troops to a bloody stalemate. He believes - thanks to the French - that the more blood he sheds, the likelier he and his regime are to survive.
* Saddam will be even more inclined to employ weapons of mass destruction on as wide a scale as possible, certain that France and his other supporters will excuse his behavior as an inevitable response to American aggression, not proof that he possessed such weapons all along.
* The war is delayed, day after day, giving Saddam ever more time to strengthen his defenses, while American troops sit in the desert, watching Saddam wire his oilfields with explosives, dig in his troops and prepare a massive defense of Baghdad. Our troops are ready now, and each delay only weakens our readiness compared to that of our adversary.
* The French support for Saddam encourages terrorists, Iraqi-sponsored or otherwise, to believe that wartime actions against the United States could have a decisive effect, given the opposition to American policy even among Washington's traditional "friends."
The last point is easy to undervalue. Terrorists - and Saddam himself - do not live in our world of abundant, competitive information. Rather, they live in worlds of enthusiastic self-delusion and megalomania. The ruthless French defense of Saddam - an unspeakable dictator - has played into the fantasies of tyrant and terrorist alike, convincing them that they are stronger than they really are, that they are not alone, and that it is America which is evil and vulnerable.
Readers may note that I have not even raised the issue of recent reports that French firms continued to help Iraq improve its armaments into the early weeks of this year. Although one of the many reasons the French do not want us in Baghdad is that they don't want us going through Iraqi archives and uncovering the extent of their complicity in Saddam's defiance of sanctions, the material aid French firms may have provided to Iraq is a trivial issue compared to the moral and diplomatic encouragement Paris has given Baghdad.
Ultimately, this grotesque resurgence of French "diplomacy" will fail. France is weak, ill-defended and hated in Africa and much of the Middle East with a quiet hatred that goes far deeper than the topical anti-Americanism so much in evidence. Nor will its attempts to glorify itself at America's expense provide France with any security. The terrorists will not reward France for its pandering; on the contrary, I expect we shall see a major terrorist strike in France this year. The French do not merely live in a bad neighborhood - the bad neighborhoods live within France. The French are bribing their executioners in the expectation of mercy.
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Ralph Peters in the New York Post does not mince words.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 6:18 AM