Michael J. Totten

Friday, February 14, 2003

The Costa Ricanization of France

The New Republic says the wailing from France is the death-rattle of empire.

When [the Cold War] ended, the self-importance of Europe finally became an illusion, a psycho-strategic disorder. The kicking and screaming of France and Germany in recent weeks is the direct consequence of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the termination of the cold war. In these new circumstances, Europe is rather lacking in strategic ontology. Indeed, Europe has gladly acquiesced in its withdrawal from grand historical action, exchanging the burdens of military power for the blandishments of a continent-wide embourgeoisement, for what Robert Kagan has rightly called a "post-historical paradise."


There are some European states, some NATO members, who understand the justice of the American campaign and the necessity of American leadership. If Americans are from Mars, some Europeans are from Vilnius. And Spain and Italy have demonstrated that even old Europeans know how to exist in the present. But then there is Belgium, which roars that the weapons inspectors in Iraq must be given more time. There was once a great French poet whose cherished term for mediocrity was l'esprit Belge. This week l'esprit Belge is running wild in geopolitics. Never mind. The bruised ego of Europe is less dangerous to the world than the hidden arsenal of Saddam Hussein. And our cultural affinity for Europe has outlived our strategic affinity for Europe. The American sense of the world is right and clear: nation-building in Kabul and Baghdad, vacation-building in Paris and Berlin.

Belgium and France have become Costa Rica; a small disarmed democracy that chooses to recline and enjoy itself in peace. There is nothing wrong with being Costa Rica. Not a thing. It's a beautiful country with wonderful people. It's a place worth visiting, and a place worth living in.

But unlike France, Costa Rica is absolutely without pretension. It is geopolitically insignificant, and it knows it. It never had an empire of its own, and it never lost much. Its peaceful and liberal values kept it free of the military dictatorships that ruled most of Latin America in the 20th Century. Good for it. Not a bad way to go at all.

France has made the decision to be like Costa Rica. But it still sees itself as the world power and empire it once was. It cannot reconcile the contradiction. Thus the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the acting up, and the lashing out.

Damn Funny

Click here. Do it now. You will thank me.

Unprofessional but Necessary

Here is the cover of today's New York Post.

February 13, 2003--
WASHINGTON - Weasel so-called allies France and Germany will hear fresh evidence today of Iraqi stonewalling, at an 11th-hour showdown with the United States in the U.N. Security Council.

Hunter S. Thompson once wrote that in order to understand Richard Nixon, you can't be objective. You have to be subjective to grasp how nasty and slimy he was.

Thompson is infamously yellow, as is the New York Post. Bless them both.

This is What Fascism Looks Like

Saddam's state-run media printed the following in celebration of the first anniversary of September 11th. (Via The Wall Street Journal.)

This is the mind of Saddam Hussein. This war is not blood for oil.

Deterrance Ain't What it Used to Be

There are plenty of flaws with the "We can deter Saddam" argument. James Lileks puts his finger on the biggest one.

MAD worked in the Cold War.

Bulletin: this is a hot war.

There are some who say Saddam would never nuke us because we would just nuke him back. But would we? Should we? The "peace" crowd puts forth this argument. Nice, huh? I'm a hawk. A real hawk. And there is no way I will ever support the nuking of Baghdad. Not a chance, no matter what happens.

You can almost imagine how it would play out - would the US take its evidence to the Security Council to ask for permission to nuke Iraq? It’s not ridiculous to think we would, since that seems to be the squinty aperture through which we have to shove all our big hot bricks. But the idea of Colin Powell demanding that the UN sanction a nuclear reply is preposterous - never mind the automatic veto such a thing would get. It’s impossible to imagine Powell calmly requesting that the world bless cold-blooded mass murder. He wouldn’t do it. Bush wouldn’t do it. The Congress, the American people wouldn’t stand for it. The voices that insisted It’s Clobbering Time would be outnumbered 100 to 1 by those demanding impeachment. MAD, in its awful way, was moral because it made the price of immorality too great to consider. But the Containment argument - hey, if he does nuke us, we can nuke him back - isn’t MAD, it’s just crazy. It presumes we could step back, pause, sift through the intel, then kill a few million people to make a point.

We’d never do it. We’d hold televised benefits for Baltimore. We’d all remember the victims of 5/23. We’d buy the DVD compilations of news footage, archive the papers that landed on our stoops the day after. We’d find life returning to normal, eventually - but we’d never feel at ease again. The worst thing ever had happened, and to our surprise the world hadn’t ended. But the world had changed. Our better nature had prevailed - and we were certain to suffer again because of it, right up until the day we lashed out and became everything we never wanted to be.

The good news: that’s not going to happen.

The bad news: we’re going to war, to make sure it doesn’t.

Amen to that. Peace on Earth. No nuclear war.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Liberals Versus Leftists

I've received a lot of email from people asking me if I can identify the firm dividing line between liberals and leftists, if one even exists. I know that one exists, but in my own mind I usually just resort to the standard "I know it when I see it" formulation. Salman Rushdie is a liberal, and Noam Chomsky is a leftist. What do they have in common? Not a damn thing.

But if you want something a little more substantial, try this on for size.

Geoff Pynn at Too Much Text writes

Maybe I'm naive. But I have no interest in regime change in Iraq unless the new regime has three prominent features: friendliness to the US, hostility towards terrorists, and a commitment to democracy. Just one or two won't do. And I want to know that the Administration feels the same way.

I don't quite agree. One of the above is better than none of the above. Nevertheless, a free Iraq that meets all of Geoff's criteria is obviously the best outcome.

There's something fascinating about Geoff's post, other than the fact that it represents a liberal viewpoint. Allow me to change just a few words, and watch what happens.

I have interest in regime change in any county if the regime has three prominent features: friendliness to the US, hostility towards terrorists, and a commitment to democracy.

That is the leftist view. It is diametrically opposite the liberal view. My hatchet-job excerpt sums up the views of the "peace" rally organizers ANSWER and NION. It is their organizing principle, which is why the word "peace" gets quotation marks. It is also what makes them illiberal.

Fiskin' Time

This week's Portland Mercury is running a three-paragraph love letter to Fidel Castro by Julianne Shepherd called In the People We Trust.

Most Americans have strong feelings about Fidel Castro.


The U.S. government has certainly done a good job of trying to defame him...

Defame? As in "defamation of character?" You mean, the US government is lying about him?

...due to its mortal fear of all that threatens the corporate powers that be.

I thought Fidel's police state had something to do with it. And the fact that he dared Kruschev to launch a nuclear strike against America. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

And Fidel-- having led a willing Cuba to socialism, and assisted revolutionaries in many South American countries, not to mention playing a key part in the end of apartheid and the independence of Namibia--scares the shit out of our government.

It scares the shit out of the Cubans. Especially those in the dungeons and those who drown or get shot trying to swim to Miami. You could always set the Cuban exiles straight, though. Perhaps you could have your article translated in Spanish and published in South Florida. They'll appreciate your insight.

The CIA has tried to assassinate him over NINE times.

Over nine times? Well, how many times? Ten? Eleven thousand and two? Do advise.

After watching Fidel, Estela Bravo's mostly glowing portrait of the man, I am convinced that Fidel Castro is the last living patron saint of the people.

Bravo's portrait must have been awfully glowing. I mean, he is a dictator and all. Maybe he's like the Mexican PRI, though. So democratic they don't need to have elections. But seriously, you really think Castro is the last living patron saint of the people? What about Kim Jong Il and Saddam Hussein? Don't they count, too? Saddam got 100 percent of the vote, after all. Kim is the "Dear Leader" of the Koreans. The people love them so.

Yes, I know that he currently suppresses free speech and dissidence, which is hypocritical, and with which I wholeheartedly disagree.

How is Castro being a hypocrite? If the ACLU suppresses free speech, that's hypocrisy. Fidel is a dictator. He is just doing his job, dear.

But as a figurehead, he's airtight, and right now this country's people's movement desperately needs a leader with the charisma, passion, and courage of Castro.

What on earth can this mean? Casto is a figurehead? Then who is really in charge, if not Fidel? The ghost of Marx? And what does it mean that he's airtight? Is he planning to swim to Miami, too?

(Medea Benjamin, where you at?)

Who knows? Does she know that she's supposed to be the next dictator? I'm sure she's honored that you think so.

In straight documentary style, Fidel chronicles Castro's life from his beginnings in rural Cuba, through his school days (though curiously skims over his attempt at major league baseball).

Hmm. Is baseball the only thing the film "curiously" skims over? I mean, it is a straight documentary. Does it explain how the informant system works? Does it describe the torture chambers? Does it skim over the brutal oppression of gay people, or does it glowingly describe that, too?

Through footage and photos, it illustrates how he led the overthrow of Batista (whose regime cost the lives of over 20,000 citizens) with his good friend Che Guevara.


His speeches are impassioned...

Yeah, they're funny sometimes, too. His sense of humor and irony are his best qualities, don't you think?

--the man's manifesto is called History Will Absolve Me, for god's sakes--

An unfortunate title.

and whether fighting on the frontlines against the 1961 American invasion (because he nationalized American oil companies stationed in Cuba), cutting sugarcane himself to help boost the economy, or making friends with the likes of Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, and Kruschev, Fidel has lived an extraordinary life.

He sure has. It would be fun to be dictator, huh? Absolute power corrupts absolutely, unless you're a Communist, in which case everything you do is just to help out the little guy and the rural folk.

By the end of the film, I was bawling.

I don't blame you. Totalitarian propaganda often produces extreme reactions in people.

Where are the leaders like this in America?

They belong to ANSWER and NION, and they organize the anti-war rallies you like so much.


That was my initial reaction to your article, Juliann. I couldn't help but be sarcastic. But I thought about it a little while longer, and I decided to add a last note. You're what Lenin called a "Useful Idiot," and you're a servant of evil. You disgrace yourself completely, and it's worse because you have no idea.

Japan Threatens North Korea with War

Today Japan threatens North Korea with war if Kim Jong Il prepares a missile strike.

The temperature of the planet just rose a few more degrees.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Waiting for War

Bush will pull the trigger any day now. George Tenet expects Al Qaeda to strike this week.

Tanks and ground troops guard London's Heathrow Airport. Missile batteries are deployed in Washington, D.C. Supplies are cleared off shelves as the Feds tell us to stockpile and protect our homes from chemical and biological attacks. The CIA says North Korea has ballistic missiles that can hit the West Coast, where I live.

And yet Portland is calm. I don't see any panicking. Most people talk of other things. I had a six-hour phone-conference meeting today, and it was boring and banal. My wife and I have a date at the theater tonight.

I don't plan to stockpile. We have food in the house already. Water is plentiful in Portland during the Winter. I'd feel like a goofball if I went to Home Depot and bought plastic cloth and duct tape. (If I lived in Tel Aviv, that would be another matter.)

And yet the air feels heavy, as it does in the Midwest before air raid sirens announce a tornado on radar.

I want to pet my cats and watch a stupid movie. I'd like to take a drive to the coast, or walk in the snow on Mt. Hood.

But I am glued to the news. My Web site stats are higher than normal today. Everything is moving fast, yet nothing is happening.

This is how it feels to wait for war.

What's in Your Basement?

If you're more worried than I am, go read Ken Layne today. He's ready for the end, and feels alright about it. He'll eat and drink well, and have extra smokes to spare. He can watch DVDs when the power goes out, and blog when the Internet fails.

If you do decide to stockpile, stash an unabridged copy of The Stand while you're at it. There's good advice in there. Stephen King tells you how to survive the breakdown, and how to be a human being while doing it.

The Ugly German

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said to Donald Rumsfeld on TV yesterday, "Excuse me. I am not convinced."

Well. Some people are more dense than others. Some are both dense and sinister.

Columnist and Atlantic Monthly editor Michael Kelly digs up the dirt on Mr. Fischer. The guy is a real piece of work. Before he became Germany's foreign minister he was a violent, Jew-hating, terror-sympathizing street thug. Caught on film beating police officers. Plausibly accused of throwing Molotov Cocktails not at tanks or storefronts but at live human beings. Hiding the Red Army Faction in his house. Chumming it up with genocidal terrorists in Algiers.

This is the guy who sneered at Donald Rumsfeld on TV yesterday. He is Germany's Foreign Minister.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

The New Hitler-Stalin Pact

So it looks like Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein are allies, after all. What, you're not surprised? Well, the peaceniks sure are, even though the (liberal) New Yorker magazine reported it nearly a year ago. Peaceniks said it was "impossible" for Al Qaeda and Saddam to team up. They have different philosophies!

Well, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is an old saying of the Arabs. So is this one: Me and my brother against my cousin. Me and my cousin against the world.

Not to mention the precedent of the Hitler-Stalin pact, known to those of us who bother to read history. And the fact that America works with Saudi Arabia (!) despite our very different philosophies.

This is just the most recent prediction and assumption the peaceniks got wrong. Heck, I think they've been wrong about everything since September 11th.

We still don't know who attacked us.

The brutal Afghan winter will lead to the starvation of millions.

America is committing genocide in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan will be the next Vietnam quagmire.

Taliban soldiers are tougher than Americans.

Bombing the Taliban will only create more terrorists.

The Afghans will hate us.

Removing the Taliban won't help women.

The Arab street will rise up.

Israelis committed war crimes in Jenin.

We are mistreating prisoners in Cuba.

America is going it alone.

The Iraqi people hate America more than they hate Saddam.

Saddam is cooperating with the inspectors.

Saddam and Osama will never work together.

These questions are no longer in dispute. The facts are known, and are well-documented.

How many times do peaceniks need to be wrong before they re-evaluate their worldview and their default assumptions? How many blunders before they read a little history for precedent and context?

I used to be a peacenik. A long time ago. Whoops, I thought, when my views of the Gulf War were proven baseless and stupid. Might want to rethink this stuff.

Just Ignore Them

British military historian John Keegan says OId Europe goes too far in its pro-Saddam obsructionism.

Over the weekend the government of the United States was confronted by the possibility that its preparations for military action against Iraq might be frustrated by a Franco-German scheme to enlarge and extend the United Nations' powers of inspection within that country. France, Germany and Belgium announced Monday that they are invoking an unprecedented NATO procedure to prevent America lending support to Turkey to defend its border with Iraq. Washington was disconcerted and dismayed by last week's move. It is incensed by Monday's veto, as it is being described. Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. Defense Secretary, described the Franco-German action as a "breathtaking event" that would "reverberate throughout the alliance."

Perhaps we should just ignore them. Sorry if it sounds arrogant, but they are only as important as we allow. They are like weak schoolyard bullies who insult other children, but can hamstrung by being ignored.

Call their bluff. Quote Mark Steyn from last July. (No link.)

You don't want Bush to topple Saddam? Fine. Sign a mutual defense pact with Baghdad. That's what real powers do.

Recommended Reading

Are you a liberal interventionist hawk? Tired of idiotic peacenikkery that makes our side look stupid? Relief is at hand. Vodkapundit has a list of Liberals for Liberation.

Follow his links, and you'll have enough reading material to last 'till the war starts.

Europe's Fifth Column

Khidhir Hamza worked to create nuclear weapons for Saddam Hussein until he defected to the West. In today's Wall Street Journal he argues what many have suspected; that Russia, Germany, and France have been bought off by Saddam Hussein and supply him with his weaponry.

They are his patrons. They are his armorers. And they are his allies.

Those who complain (quite rightly) that the United States supported Saddam Hussein in the 1980s should refocus their ire on Europe's fifth column, who continues to support him to this day. Saddam's principal goal is the acquisition of the weapons of genocide, and the deployment of those weapons to "expel" the Kurds and the Jews from the human race.

Saddam Hussein imported his ideology from Nazi Germany and his tactics from Stalinist Russia. That Germany and Russia are supporting him now, and that France (who surrendered to Germany) has surrendered to Saddam, is an awful echo of the darkest days of the 20th century.

The dramatic upsurge in eliminationist anti-Semitism amid the clamor for appeasement make it all the more disturbing.

Monday, February 10, 2003

Another Liberal for Liberation

Timothy Noah at Slate has jumped over to the hawk side.

Part of me looks at my fellow liberals who belatedly get on board and wonders, what took you guys so long? I was in favor of overthrowing Saddam Hussein years before September 11. The reasons to take out the garbage in Baghdad have only increased since then. (I will say it is satisfying to have the majority come around to my way of thinking about this, as they eventually did with Bosnia and Kosovo as well.)

Frustrating as it is, we should be glad it takes some people a long time to make up their minds, and that they have at last come around. They help confirm that the case for war is irresistable. That the anti-war arguments can't survive evidence and analysis. That the hawks are really right.

It has been said that conservatives make the best revolutionaries because they know the system is truly beyond repair. The same can be said for reluctant warriors, and it means something that they are everywhere now.

Act Four

September 11 didn't change everything, as some have said. It simply started the ball rolling. Before this is all over with, everything really will have changed. The defeat of the Taliban and the probable demise of Osama bin Laden was just the opening act.

The delegitimization of Yasser Arafat was the second act. The liberation of Iraq will be the third.

Mark Steyn hints at the broad contours of the fourth.

The trouble with the UN is simple: At its inception, its structures reflected the realities of the Second World War victory parade; then, from the '50s to the '80s, it reflected the realities of the Cold War stalemate; now it reflects not the new reality--a unipolar world dominated by a hyperpower--but the denial of that fact. For most of the participants in this week's meeting, the UN is not a reflection of geopolitical power but a substitute for it, a means by which the Lilliputians can tie down the American Gulliver. The fantastical, unreal character it adopted after the collapse of Communism sealed its fate. Wednesday was merely a confirmation.

Two or three dozen countries will join the war to liberate Iraq. If the Americans and British are wise, they'll play up the smaller fry, let their generals handle some of the press conferences, talk up their war heroics. All the late 20th century arrangements--the European Union, NATO and most definitely the UN--are about to be remade.

Don't be a bit surprised when it happens.

Saudis See Writing on the Wall

The House of Saud announced today that it will implement democratic reforms.

I'll believe it when I see it. But even if they are only going through the motions, it's a win for us and the people who have to put up with that regime. Hypocrisy almost always precedes real reform.

This is a direct result of the looming regime-change in Iraq. We Americans are not going to tolerate menacing Middle East dictatorships any more. Every tin-pot despot in the region knows what time it is.

Propaganda Megaphone at the Washington Post

David Ignatius decides he wants to be a propaganda tool for Ba'athist dictator Bashir Assad in Syria. Here's a nice sample:

Assad fears that rather than moving the region forward, an Iraqi war will set it back for decades -- reinforcing old attitudes and ideologies. If war comes, he fears that terrorism will increase and events may spin out of control.

Assad fears terrorism will increase?

David! Syria is one of the largest supporters of terrorism on Earth. And if you haven't noticed, Syria is ruled by the Ba'ath party, just like Iraq. The Ba'ath Party imports its ideology from Nazi Germany, and its methods from Stalin.

A little context would be nice. "Equal time for Hitler" is not what media critics have in mind when they grouse about bias.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

The Death of NATO?

Turkey has asked its NATO allies for military assistance in preparation for a possible attack by Saddam Hussein, and Belgium is threatening to veto that assistance. This is an abrogation of the NATO alliance. When one NATO member is under threat, all others are required to assist it.

The EU snubbed Turkey in the latest round of EU admissions. And now it will leave Turkey (along with the US and Saddam's democratic Iraqi opponents) in greater danger during war time.

NATO really is dead. And the idea that Christian civilization is at war with Islamic civilization is looking increasingly dubious.

We have far better friends in the Muslims on the Balkan peninsula. We will soon have better friends in the Muslims of Iraq.

What a great irony it will be when a liberated Baghdad is friendlier to the United States than Western Europe. If Europe doesn't get its act together fast, the very idea of the West will be a meaningless anachronism.

Update: France and Germany (surprise!) are also blocking aid to Turkey.

Living Up to Expectations

In my previous post I said that one of the things I like about the neocons is that they are unafraid to fight the Republican Party. I cited Andrew Sullivan as an example of who I'm talking about. Then I pop over to Andrew's site, and he has four posts in a row criticizing the Bush Administration with strong language. "Worse than Reagan." "Illiterate." "Awful legacy in the making."

I'd make posts like his myself, but I'm more interested in foreign policy at the moment (for obvious reasons), and others are doing a fine job of it without me.

Credit Where It's Due

A reader writes and comments on the my post about the Kosovo War and requests I give credit where it is due.

Hi, I greatly enjoy your blog, as a liberal who also
supports overthrowing Saddam for the sake of the Iraqi
people. I do have to say something though about this
statement from one of your Thursday entries:

"It's also worth recalling that Republicans were
foursquare against the [Kosovo] war, and did everything they
could to jam up the works."

That's true of most of the Republicans who were in
Congress, but the neocons, who have been driving the
effort within W's administration to overthrow Saddam,
actually did support Clinton on Kosovo. Bill Kristol
and the Weekly Standard above all were quite
supportive. Kristol actually said "Republicans have
been misled by their ... hatred of Bill Clinton" into
opposing Clinton on Kosovo. And I know Wolfowitz was
another supporter. So credit where it is due, and all.

Lee Razer

Yes, it is true. Some of the neoconservatives did get over their loathing of Bill Clinton and supported him on Kosovo.

This is one of the reasons I find the neocons the most respectable faction of the Republican Party. There is a certain kind of liberal (like myself) and a certain kind of conservative (like Bill Kristol and Andrew Sullivan) whose ideas overlap occasionally. This is partly because the neoconservatives are ex-liberals or ex-leftists who haven't ditched every idea they once held dear. And it's also due to the fact that neoconservatives are intellectuals, are morally serious, and are willing to challenge their own party when it is wrong.

I have next-to-nothing in common with the Wall Street Republicans, the paleoconservative Old Right, the neo-Confederate Southern Right, or the fundamentalist Christian Religious Right. I might agree with them on occasion by purely random chance, but that's it. But I can do business with the neocons, and I don't mind if they say the same about me.

"Root Cause" Idiocy

Western Leftists have had a ball posing as the moral superiors of everyone else, denouncing their own country and civilization for evil actions abroad which are the "root cause" of Islamofascist blowback.

Well. The terrorists who bombed the nightclub in Bali confessed and spelled out what the "root cause" of anti-Australian violence was really all about.

Two Indonesians accused of involvement in the deadly bombings last year on the island of Bali say Americans and Australians were deliberately targeted in the attack, according to a report Monday.

The Oct. 12 attack's alleged mastermind, Imam Samudra, told police Australians were targeted because of Canberra's close ties to the United States and its involvement in international peacekeeping efforts in East Timor in 1999, Australian Broadcasting Corp.'s Four Corners current affairs show reported.

The "peacekeeping effort" in East Timor was a major cause of the Western Left in the 1990s. And that's great. I supported that, too. And so it was my leftist foreign policy that triggered the rage in Bali.

Fine. I take full responsibility. Islamofascists hate Western Leftists. Great. I'm glad. I would hate for those bastards to approve of anything I've ever done or said or stood for.

The difference between me and the rest of the left is that I don't denounce my countrymen and fellow Westerners as "evil" "terrorists" who deserve to die for their "crimes against humanity."

And so I want to know, I mean, I really want to know...will the rest of the Left denounce itself for liberating East Timor? Or will it ever learn?

Terror Insurgency in Iraqi Kurdistan

Al Qaeda fascists assasinated top-level officials in the PUK government in Northern Iraq today, ominously echoing the assasination of the Northern Alliance leader on the eve of September 11.

This doesn't necessarily mean Al Qaeda plans a mega attack on the US tomorrow. But it does remind us that America is not the only enemy of Al Qaeda, that liberal and secular Muslims are to be killed as "infidels" as well. Good luck appeasing these guys, "peace" creeps.

Just try explaining the "root cause" of a terror campaign against a secular leftist Muslim proto-democracy. What, exactly, have such people done to deserve this? Do advise.

Paris and Berlin, Capitals of Unreality

France and Germany don't want the US to invade Iraq. Rather, they want the UN to invade Iraq and seize control of the country. They say this is an alternative to war.

I don't see how a UN invasion is "not war," while a US invasion is. Besides, the UN invade Iraq? Puh-leeze. The UN and whose army?

They sure have backed themselves into a corner. If a UN invasion and seizure of Iraq is what pacifists and appeaseniks want, this perfectly demonstrates how pacifism and inaction are nothing more than avoidance behaviors and denial.

Impotent, Irrelevant, and Incompetent

Jack Kelly says France's efforts to make itself globally significant are backfiring, and instead doom it to irrelevance and disgrace.

Going to war without France is, in the words of former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Jed Babbin, like going deer hunting without an accordian.

The French have no objection to unilateral military interventions. They are engaged in one now in the Ivory Coast, where they are getting badly kicked. This is a typical result. The French haven't had a battlefield success since the time of Napoleon. The Germans whipped them in the Franco-Prussian War, and again in World Wars I and II. The Vietnamese kicked them out of Indochina, and the Algerians kicked them out of North Africa.

The only value the French could have in a "Coalition of the Willing" would be to teach the Iraqis how to surrender. But — on the evidence of the first Persian Gulf war — the Iraqis already have this down pat.

I hope if France offers to help in Iraq the US says "no." It we say "yes," it will only encourage them to be jackasses again in the future, in whatever dimished capacity they are allowed.

Copyright 2003 Michael J. Totten