March 26, 2003

There's Something Terribly Wrong...

...about a demonstrator who carries a sign saying, "Boycott France!"...

...in the middle of a town named "Lafayette."

Posted by DeLong at March 26, 2003 07:10 PM | TrackBack

Comments

It's as ironic as anti-interventionist Francoweenies telling us that we should be grateful for French interventionists Lafayette, Rochambeau, and deGrasse - men whose examples the weasels refuse to follow.

I've never been a big fan of boycotts, but even when they're appropriate, they should be targeted at companies for what companies do, not for what their governments do. So I'll continue buying French...uh, well, I haven't been in the habit of buying French products, anyway.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson on March 26, 2003 07:55 PM

There's something wrong about torching a replica of the statue of liberty in France.

Posted by: Fred Boness on March 26, 2003 08:13 PM

I agree but where is this story from?

Posted by: Bobby on March 26, 2003 08:23 PM

Interventionist Francoweenies? Please. Spanish conservatives will not be amused by obscene references to the late Generalissimo's anatomy and sex life. Antoni Jaume might be, though.

Now that I think about it, Lafayette, Rochambeau, and DeGrasse were not interventionist enough. They could have finished the war in a matter of days if only they had had some flying ships-of-the line drop loads of bombs on London to shock and awe King George and Parliament, and thus turn all of Britain into a fief of the Dauphin the way it should have been in the first place. Technology can be very inconvenient sometimes.

Posted by: andres on March 26, 2003 09:27 PM

"Terribly wrong"? Ironists live for, and salute, this sort of thing. Admit it, the guy is a genius and you just wish you had thought of it.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on March 27, 2003 07:30 AM

It is very convenient to focus the attention of the ignorant on France. That way they forget that it is most of the world that refused to lend legitimacy to this war.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 27, 2003 09:11 AM

Back in the day when there was still some hope of a 2nd UN resolution, the idiots on Pravda (er, I mean Fox News) would always attack the French on the grounds of their resistance to a "date certain" -- seemingly oblivious to the obvious French syntax of that phrase.

Posted by: P O'Neill on March 27, 2003 09:18 AM

Yes. We report. You decide.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/23/opinion/23DOWD.html

I prefer Mureen Dowd -

"You repent. We decide."

The chesty "you repent, we decide" Bush doctrine was cooked up pre-Bush, fashioned over the last 12 years by conservatives like Mr. Perle, Mr. Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, Douglas Feith and Bill Kristol....

Posted by: lise on March 27, 2003 10:56 AM

andres, I sure would not worry about a joke on a dictator befriended by the US governments of any sign on the premises of its anticommunism, in spite he did despise most things coming from the USA, starting with freedom. That goes a long way toward explaining the latest CIS survey which gave a 90.8% of spanish people against the war. And the CIS is controlled by the governement of Aznar.
Now myself I am not propense to such language, maybe because my father thought every body is evil and did not let me to live anywhere there were other kids of my age, so I could not develop a taste form such expressions.

JP Stijns, some times I have the feeling that Iraq is not the true target of the war, only a place to do a convenient show of power. In fact I would not be surprised to learn that France was always the intended target.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on March 27, 2003 11:54 AM

"[...] some times I have the feeling that Iraq is not the true target of the war, only a place to do a convenient show of power."

What good is a preemptive strike grand strategy if you don't find a place to showcase it on? And that place better have oil. That way it will pay for most of its own reconstruction as has been made clear by this Administration. Then, conveniently, reconstruction will be contracted to companies whose ex-owners are now "serving" the Administration. Shall we expect them to make substancial campain contributions in 2004? Nah, that would be... so shrill it would sound like reality.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 27, 2003 12:27 PM

I think people are missing the gravity of the situation, because both sides are still concentrating on saying it's the other guys fault. de Villepin, in a meeting in London yesterday, couldn't bring himself to say that he hoped the Coalition would win the war. And we know what the neo-Cons think of France.

There is a movement in France to move ahead with a two-speed Europe. This means France-Germany- Belgium move to a closer political and military union; anyone who agrees to their rules is welcome, anyone who doesn't stays out. The wild card in this is Germany, because it may have to give up at least in the immediate term on Eastern Europe, who are naturally pissed with the French. The French are arguing that the sheer force of France-Germany will attract other countries later on the appropriate terms. It is not clear that the Germans will accept this risk, but clearly if Americans do not accept or understand the dynamics of the current situation (and want to humiliate Germany as well as France post-Iraqi war), then Germany may have no other choice.

Now bring in Russia. Unthinkable only a year ago, a French-German-Russian axis is a possibility if not a likelihood. It provides a sufficient political, military, and economic counterweight to Oceania (U.S., U.K., Australia, maybe Japan).

Now before we continue on this path, it would seem that all parties should ask whether this world is really desirable. Do we want a bipolar world again? Do we want *this* bipolar world? Does the U.S. really want to lose, without firing a shot, the Europe it spent forty-five years defending from Russia? OK before the Russians were the "bad" guys then and now maybe they're not. But the map says differently.

And do the French really want to cast off the Americans? Considered in the harsh light of day, do they really think it is in their interest to prefer Russia? Do they really think that this Europe would be stable? Or are they committing precisely the error of wishful thinking which they accuse the Americans of vis-a-vis the Middle East? Do they think such a Europe can keep up the American economic dynamic? If it can't what will happen?

What we are getting in France is a "pensee unique" of depressing proportions. France is right, France has always been right, France will always be right. Or even worse, Chirac is right, Chirac has always been right, Chirac will always be right. Yet he, with his sidekick de Villepin, is leading France to disaster. And on the other side of the Atlantic, we have either the ruthless neo-cons, who really think America can be all-powerful, and only seem to welcome more enemies, or the left, which is only looking to 2004 rather than understanding that by 2004 it may well be too late.

What we have is a game of chicken, where two adults are racing cars at each other with the expectation that the other side will blink first.
Maybe someone will blink. But what happens if no one does?


Posted by: Andrew Boucher on March 28, 2003 01:54 AM

I don't think the French had the technology to "shock and awe" London. The Spanish once did, but some bad weather in 1588 changed that.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson on March 29, 2003 07:02 PM

"I don't think the French had the technology to "shock and awe" London."

No duh. That wasn't the point I was trying to get across.

Andrew, if you are right and power-mad neocons are in power in the white house for an indefinite duration (and if you think it will be too late by 2004 what do you suggest we on the "hard left" do? Beg? Overthrow the government?), then I'm afraid that it will be better for the rest of the world that we go into a bi-polar situation. Think about what would have happened if the US and Britain had sat on their isolationist asses and allowed Stalin to overrun the entire continent after defeating Germany. No, the neocons are not murderous like Mr. Dzugashvili, but they seem to be disturbingly drunk on power and somebody needs to knock some deterrence into their skulls.

I don't think the Russian, German and French governments are made of saints, but at least they seem to be following popular opinion in their own countries. Unless France, Germany, and Russia solidify their position and enlist active support from China, I'm afraid Tehran or Riyadh may be next on the Pentagon's list. If such a coalition is a bad thing for geopolitics, then the neocons will have to stop their plans for near eastern conquest, which will be a good thing overall.

Posted by: andres on March 29, 2003 08:13 PM

andres: Your comments would be an example of what worries me: it seems like you're saying you prefer the formation of a FGR axis that stops U.S. hegemony to the neo-cons winning. First, it is a bad strategy to hold, because it borders on the traitorous. And such an attitude loses middle America and basically hands the next election to Bush and the Republicans.

It's the same as those on the Left who try to paint Bush as stupid. I don't know whether Bush is or not. I don't care, and what's more I don't think it's so important. What is important is, anyone who uses that argument against Bush and the Republicans, automatically loses middle America, who just sees another guy proclaiming he's so smart - not only compared to Bush, but compared to *them*. If someone's really that smart, he'd keep his mouth shut, and instead talk in a way which will convince other people. (I'm not saying that you are one of these calling Bush stupid, I don't know. What I'm saying is, the manner in which one argues one's position is important, and the Left doesn't take this into account as it should. And that's one reason why it loses elections.

I think you have to have confidence in the world and the nature of power. The neo-cons aren't going to win, because they have overestimated American power. Full stop. Maybe the neo-cons really believe America is the Greatest Nation since the Roman Empire, but they don't seem to realize that in their own backyard the economy is falling to pieces. In the next few years, America won't be capable of sweeping its streets, much less playing centurion half-way across the globe. So the creation of a FGR axis is not going to be necessary (and, indeed, in any case it wouldn't be sufficient) to stop American power. That's going to stop on its own accord.

On the other hand, a FGR axis would be very, very bad for the U.S. and for Europe in the short-, medium- and long- term. I would rest easier if anyone in the U.S. was actually militating against it - not as a partisan point against Bush, but just as a very bad thing for America (and, incidentally, a bad thing for France, Germany, and Russia). Maybe I'm reading the wrong newspapers (and the wrong blogs), but I just don't see any anxiety or any concern out there. And that worries me, a lot.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on March 30, 2003 07:42 AM

Mr Boucher, I do not share your confidence in the world and the nature of power. The neo-cons want to set the USA and the world in a way pleasing to them, they may not be able to do a better world (which is not in their mind), but they can set a worse world in which the USA would be better off than the rest of the world: the one-eyed man is king in the land of the blind.

Neither do I share that "a FGR axis would be very, very bad for the U.S." and much less "for Europe in the short-, medium- and long- term. I would rest easier if anyone in the U.S. was actually militating against it[...]" It is an affirmation that flows from a prejudiced standpoint, in this case that only the USA has the right to prosecute an international policy, and that it has to repose only on USA internal interests, because it is bad for France to seek benefits, it is bad for Germany to seek benefits, etc. but it is right for the USA to seek benefits.

Rather the USA will endeavour to tackle their own problems only if they see that they can no longer send them abroad.


DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on March 30, 2003 08:24 AM

Antoni Jaume: "It is affirmation that flows from a prejudiced standpoint..." Says you, I guess. I thought I was affirming it only because I'd rather not witness WWIII.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on March 30, 2003 11:07 AM

"Your comments would be an example of what worries me: it seems like you're saying you prefer the formation of a FGR axis that stops U.S. hegemony to the neo-cons winning. First, it is a bad strategy to hold, because it borders on the traitorous. And such an attitude loses middle America and basically hands the next election to Bush and the Republicans."

Andrew, if it is borderline treason to pray that somebody in the outside world stops your own government from the insane policy that it has embarked upon, then such treason would be a dime a dozen in any country which has ever had aspirations for hegemony. Russia, Germany, and yes, Iraq, have had plenty of such borderline treason--many Iraquis privately gave thanks that their government was defeated in 1991, though no doubt they would have preferred that it be eliminated altogether.

As for losing middle America, you have to face the fact that middle America is already "lost" and will stay lost as long as Bush and co. can keep a reasonable tally of military successes rolling in. Much as I wish that this is the last war before Nov. 2004, I wouldn't be surprised if Bush decided to wag the dog just once more right before the election, and if he does, middle america will rally around him even if the economy is going to pieces.

Does this sound too pessimistic? For example, in 1982, Argentina's military government wagged the dog, and in spite of suffering from high inflation and unemployment, middle Argentina (uselessly) rallied to the flag and supported the Falklands invasion. Fortunately for Argentina, the British kicked them out with heavy casualties and most Argentinians woke up to the fact that their rulers were a bunch of murderous incompetents. Would this have happened if the blue and white flag had continued to fly over Port Stanley? I doubt it.

Now before anyone asks, I pray to god that our troops win this battle forthwith in order to minimize both casualties and the damage to America's international reputation. However, I very much fear that only a solid FRGCh diplomatic coalition will be able to stop the tanks from rolling on to Tehran either before or shortly after Nov. 2004. I doubt anything else will succeed, and I hope it does because there is nothing more criminally wasteful than US and British soldiers continuing to die in the pursuit of an illusory mideast empire (a set of supposedly democratic puppet states is an empire by any other name).

Posted by: andres on March 30, 2003 12:44 PM

AB, you said:
"Antoni Jaume: "It is [AN] affirmation that flows from a prejudiced standpoint..." Says you, I guess. I thought I was affirming it only because I'd rather not witness WWIII."

A world war may happen, but now the USA are the prime suspect. Not so long I guessed it would start between India and Pakistan, poor countries with nuclear weapons and an history of war. The USA could have helped in quenching such a state, but they choose not to. Pakistan is still high on my list of propective culprits: not a democracy, integrism, lot of youngs, short life expectancy, a culture of war, nuclear weapons.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on March 30, 2003 01:35 PM
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