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So far as I can tell, there are three reasons given for France’s opposition to our Iraq policy: its financial interests in Iraq, its long-standing desire to express its independence from the United States, and the presence of Muslim immigrants in France. The last reason gets the least emphasis, but I suspect it’s the most important. This breach between France and the United States is very serious, with great consequences within Europe and beyond. I don’t believe that France is doing this simply to make a show independence, or even for money. The Muslim presence in France right now is massive. It is a real worry for the French. There is a lot of politically inspired agitation–some of it violent–going on among the Muslim population. The social fabric is clearly threatened, and even token French participation in an invasion could set off an explosion. That may be the frightening truth behind all this. For more on France’s Muslims, have a look at Christopher Caldwell’s important piece.


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