crypto and public policy

When One Extreme Helps Another

Filed under: Policy July 21, 2004 @ 6:07 pm

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.


  1. greggy:

    “But maybe a more objective stance from France might have tempered the neocon extreme.”

    Not in a million years. This suggestion ignores a mountain of evidence that the neocons could never have been stopped by rational or objective analysis. The froggies may not be angels, but they sure as shit are not even secondarily responsible for the mad fantasies of Perle, Wolfowitz, & Co. from seeing the light of day.

  2. Ben Adida:

    Greggy, you’re right that the neocons would not have seen the light of day, and I certainly don’t claim that in my post. However, the other people involved, say the more moderate Republicans, might have seen an option to be more reasonable without losing face.

    And certainly, I’m not claiming that the French are responsible for Wolfowitz and co. I’m only saying that, if the French’s goal was to truly prevent war, they might have had a better card to play. But you’re right, not playing that card doesn’t constitute responsibility.

  3. Aaron Swartz:

    Is all that stuff about the French true? I assumed it was just the usual conservative propaganda.

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