Politics & Policy

French Dangers

The French at the U.N.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said at the U.N. Friday that France was opposed to war with Iraq and that inspections should be given more time because they are working. He added, however, that inspections “cannot go on indefinitely.”

But if the French truly believe inspections are working, why can’t they go on indefinitely? Because 1) the French know that inspections can only be even mildly productive as long as American forces are in Kuwait, and 2) it is likely we can only realistically keep troops there for six months or so.

The only reason Saddam Hussein is even engaged in a public charade of destroying a few al Samoud missiles is because some 200,000 U.S. soldiers are sitting across the border in Kuwait. As history has shown, without the very real threat of force or its actual application, Saddam will ignore the demands of the U.N. and its inspectors.

So let’s be clear that inspections in and of themselves are not working; it is the threat of force that is responsible for what meager concession Saddam has made. If our troops were to depart with Saddam still in power, the Iraqi dictator would go right back to blocking inspections and pursuing his WMDs.

Since there is no one else to provide the credible threat of force if the U.S. leaves, the French position ends in one of two ways. Either Saddam beats the rap and stays in power (i.e. defeat) or Frances acquiesces to a U.S. attack when France feels comfortable with it. That may not be until sometime this summer, after we have spent billions of dollars keeping our troops in Kuwait and when the heat and sandstorms in that part of the world put our soldiers at greater risk.

The conceit of the French to gamble with the lives of American soldiers like this is breathtaking — even more so when the French foreign minister unctuously claims that his primary concern is how many “American boys” will die in Iraq.

It is almost as if de Villepin is General George McClellan to President Bush’s Abraham Lincoln and Bush has to ask the Frenchman’s permission to use the military. (Lincoln: “If McClellan is not using the army, I should like to borrow it for a while.”)

French perfidy also increases the threat to the U.S. from North Korea. Their obstinacy at the U.N. dragged the Iraq question on for many months more than necessary (Iraq should be already be liberated), which has given North Korea dictator Kim Jong Il a window of opportunity to ratchet up his insane policy of confrontation with the U.S.

Kim has cranked up the bellicose rhetoric, threatening to repudiate the Korean War armistice if he does not get his way. Just recently North Korean fighters buzzed a U.S. surveillance plane on a routine mission. And there is every reason to believe that North Korea will use the beginning of hostilities in Iraq as cover to abandon all pretenses and announce that they will be making material for nuclear bombs.

Maybe the North Koreans are merely creating the illusion of crisis in order to force the U.S. into bilateral negotiations in the hope that will lead to the aid the regime desperately needs. But it could be more sinister than that.

In a 1998 article in the Washington Times, Colonel Joo-hawl Choi, a North Korean who defected in 1995, said that North Korean forces are prepared to attack South Korea under three scenarios: “Following a U.S. troop withdrawal for South Korea; amid social instability in South Korea; or if the United States is distracted during a regional conflict in another part of the world.” Choi added that North Korean military readiness is “unquestioned.”

Too bad the same cannot be said of France’s friendship with the U.S. France’s actions have put U.S. troops at greater risk in Iraq and have inhibited our ability to deal with the increasingly unstable situation in North Korea. If this is what the French mean by fraternité, who can blame Americans for feeling that we have had about as much as we can stand.

— The Honorable J. D. Hayworth is a congressman from Arizona.


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