As much as I would rather not editorialize the same subject as every other paper across the globe this week--that is, America's foreign policy--the temptation is too great and the lapses of intelligence too significant to ignore. However, it's not the United States that deserves our attention this time, it's their detractors, specifically France, and their correspondingly ignorant arguments.
For the simple reason that they make me angry. One would think that having the Second World War rip through their beloved home would have taught the French to appreciate effective international intervention with aggressive dictators, yet they seem to want to treat Iraq with the same gentle touch Chamberlain so effectively applied to Nazi Germany in Munich. The British learned their lesson, so why didn't France?
Come to think of it, France is really in no position at all to critique anyone's foreign policy. Quickly glancing at the Ivory Coast, we have a chance to watch French appeasement in action. They've done an excellent job of dictating to the good citizenry of their former (if not de facto) colony how they are to get along and share their nation with the nice, polite rebel forces which have been ravaging the country in civil war for the past five months. The stinging irony of all this is of course the anti-French protesters calling for American intervention in the Ivory Coast. Mind you, I doubt America is willing to clean up another French colonial screw-up (cough, Vietnam, cough). Who could blame them?
Then there's the oil. Though there is an intelligent argument to be made for the oil motive, it's certainly not the one being made by most anti-war advocates, including the French. The American military will not be marching into Iraq and setting up a colony, drilling their oil and sending it straight back to the States. Their intention is to stabilize the region so they can trade for oil in the future, not steal it. There's also an argument to made for France's motive in keeping America at bay--they have a huge oil interest already underway in Iraq, though I'm sure they wouldn't stoop so low as to let that influence their policy.
This brings me to my final point: no one should be surprised if the U.S. behaves in its own best interest. If it didn't, it wouldn't be doing it's job. Why does the world expect the U.S. to always act selflessly? When the U.S. acts altruistically, it's usually in their best interest to do so--for example, the Marshal Plan, to which France owes so much--which is all we should truly expect from them. It's truly a great injustice when we expect the U.S. to rid the world of all our bogeymen and then ask them to cow to the stubborn complacency of marginal nations like France, Belgium and Germany.
America is not out to kill Iraqi children, Saddam has done so with his own domestic policies. America is in no immediate threat from Iraq, but Israel and Turkey are. If America believes that disposing of Saddam Hussein will protect the lives and interests of its people, then it is obliged to do so, regardless of French public opinion, to which President Bush is not accountable.