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Jewish World Review March 4, 2003 / 30 Adar I, 5763

Laura Ingraham

Laura Ingraham
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The French PR machine crashes | San Francisco Even out here in peacenik-land, one senses that patience is wearing thin for the French. After watching the French Foreign Minister Dominque De Villepin on ABC's This Week, one Democrat friend asked: "Was he trying to win us over or insult us?" My brother, who speaks fluent French, and is a self-avowed Francophile, has cancelled his trip there this summer. Suddenly Evian costs the same as Poland Springs in the grocery stores.

As US authorities continue to pick off top al Qaeda operatives, it's time we really start to focus on another threat to our national security-the French. Maybe that's a slight overstatement--but not by much. Day by day we are learning more about how little we have in common with the country whose people were liberated by our soldiers almost 60 years ago. De Villepin, in the much-heralded interview with George Stephanopolous, unwittingly exposed this growing divide, and his country's feckless, hypocritical stance against a brutal, dangerous Iraqi regime.

After this Q & A (which was more like Q & Q since he failed to answer any of the important questions about Iraq), there should be no dispute about the following:

  • France prefers an Iraq with Saddam in power.

  • France thinks 1441's "serious consequences" means permanent inspections.

  • France thinks 1441's "immediate compliance" mandate means Iraq should cooperate when it feels like it.

  • France doesn't regret its past role in helping Iraq build a nuclear reactor.

  • France thinks Americans are stupid.

Stephanopolous later said he believed De Villepin was attempting to "go over the heads of the US government and speak directly to the American people." Did De Villepin really believe our citizens would suddenly find the French position credible when he claimed that Iraq was now cooperating "on process and substance"? (Something even Hans Blix does not claim.)

George might as well have been interviewing Tariq Aziz. "You cannot say that a country should disarm and when a country agrees to disarm…that it's nothing," De Villepin said of Saddam's last minute decision to destroy his Al Samoud missiles. "He is, we are in the process of being able to disarm," he insisted. So from the warped French perspective, UN weapons inspectors are not only detectives, they are enablers.

Confirming the worst American stereotypes of France's appeasement mentality, De Villepin warned of "a burst of terrorism" if force is used "prematurely." This illogical thinking would prevent us from ever acting preemptively, and keep our country locked into a never-ending defensive crouch. It may be the French way, but it's not the American way.

As exasperating as De Villepin's answers were, so was Stephanopolous' failure to press him on his country's Iraqi oil interests. No matter how many times De Villepin invoked the "world community," we know that France is only concerned with one thing in this debate-France. Its economic interests, its standing in Europe, its ability to stand up to the world's cowboy superpower-this is what motivates France's refusal to force Iraq's disarmament.

What the French may never fully comprehend is that none of that will ultimately matter in a world where weapons proliferation goes unchecked, where dictators are able to manipulate democratic leaders like marionettes. Memo to Jacques: If you want to be considered as a 21st century authority on the perils of war, why not starting spending some money on your own military? But that's right, De Villepin reiterated that "France is not a pacifist country."

French eateries in San Francisco conspicuously fly large American flags as if to assure prospective customers that "we're still with you." Yes we remember that after September 11th, France said "We are all Americans." That was a warm and welcome gesture. But today we need more than gestures, we need action and real commitment.

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JWR contributor Laura Ingraham is the host of a radio show syndicated nationally by Westwood One Radio Network and the author of "The Hillary Trap: Looking for Power in All the Wrong Places". Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Laura Ingraham