I was talking politics with some co-workers, and the conversation turned to the burning of Paris and France. After I expressed my opinion that the French were reaping some of what their policies have sown, my friend commented, “It sounds like you don’t like the French.” She was right, but only partially. I have no beef (or boeuf) with the French people. I don’t know them, but I assume that they are composed of saints and sinners, much like citizens of the U.S. My sister-in-law spent 18 months living in France, and loved it there. I have visited Paris several times, but I am no more qualified to judge the French people after my visits there than foreign tourists are fit to judge the entire U.S. after a handful of visits to Washington D.C. Hereafter, when I say I have a problem with the French or that I dislike the French, I am referring specifically to the French government and not to the French people as a whole.
I have inherited some of my dislike of the French from my father. He remembers flying missions over the harbor of Hanoi in Vietnam and seeing merchant ships flying the French flag, providing supplies to the North Vietnamese. The term for what they did is “giving aid and comfort” to our enemies. If an American company had done what France did during that war, it would be considered treason.
Since France has given aid and comfort to our enemies, can we truly consider France to be our ally? How many times does a friend have to stab you in the back before you take him off your Christmas card list? While it’s true that France came to our aid during our fight for independence from England, any lingering debt for that aid was paid in full with American blood during both World Wars.
I bring up the instance of France working against us in Vietnam because they appear to be backstabbing the U.S. again. During the run-up to the war against Saddam Hussein, French President Jacques Chirac told President Bush privately that France would stand with the United States. France’s Foreign Minister–and later Prime Minister–Dominique de Villepin told then-Secretary of State Colin Powell the same thing. Then the French proceeded to stab both men in the back by announcing publicly that France would never support the use of force against Iraq.
At the same time, the U.S. came by a document suggesting that Saddam Hussein wanted to buy yellow-cake uranium from Niger. Sec. Powell used this document as one of the reasons why Saddam Hussein needed to be removed from power. Once Powell had publicly voiced support for the document, word was leaked that the document was actually a fake. Rocco Matino, the Italian who brought the document to light, revealed in court that it had been created by the French and handed to him to pass around to various intelligence agencies. Why would the French want to pass off bogus documents to the U.S.? I believe they sought to publicly embarrass the U.S. They didn’t want to support our fight against Saddam Hussein, and the continuing Oil for Food scandal suggests that many French officials were benefiting financially from the status quo in Iraq. They did not want the U.S. to step in and stop the flow of money from their Iraqi cash cow. So the French first planted the document and then exposed it as a fake to slap at the U.S. and muddy the waters.
To this day, liberals point to the 2003 State of the Union address and its now infamous 16 words, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” The British still stand by their assessment of Saddam’s desire for uranium, and the discovery of tons of yellow-cake uranium in Iraq shows that Saddam Hussein had purchased it. But France was still successful in angering many Europeans and turning them against the U.S. This was the political equivalent of letting loose with a nasty fart and blaming the guy next to you. And getting away with it.
At this point in the story, enters the liberal cause célèbre — Joseph Wilson IV. The forged documents happened after Wilson went to Niger, so they could not have been the reason he was sent. James Lewis points out in his article in The American Thinker why Wilson went:
The reason why Wilson had to travel to Niger in person to “investigate,” while drinking mint tea with his uranium mining friends, was to establish his bona fides – to make him an instant “expert witness” on Saddam’s dealings with Niger. Did French intelligence urge Wilson to make his trip and enlist his wife Valerie to propose him? Without that trip, Joseph C. Wilson had no special claim to any expertise about Saddam’s weapons. It was Valerie Plame who was the CIA WMD expert, but it was Wilson who became the front man.
Notice that the modus operandi for the Wilson trip was much the same as for the Niger forgery: a classic con game. Find a sucker, tell him what he wants to hear, and use that credulous embrance[sic] by the mark to destroy your enemy. In the first case the sucker was Colin Powell. In the second case it was the New York Times Op-Ed page. In both cases the enemy to be shafted was George W. Bush and the administration. This is how disinformation is supposed to work.
Joseph Wilson has succeeded in generating a huge media storm and becoming the enfant terrible who spawned the brouhaha over the revelation that his wife, Valerie Plame, works for the CIA. Liberals and the press (but I repeat myself) have called for heads to roll over her “outing,” but I’m sure this is not in the literal Islamofascist sense.
Wilson has a multitude of French connections, so the idea that he is operating under French direction is not inconceivable. He met his first wife in Washington D.C. at the French embassy. His second wife was a French diplomat. His third wife, Plame, wrote in a CIA memo, “my husband has good relations with both the [Prime Minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts)…”
Lewis points out that there isn’t a smoking gun which proves Wilson is a French tool, “but it is certainly at minimum, an interesting coincidence that a man with such extensive and intimate French connections should be conducting a ferocious nationwide crusade against the President of the United States, who also happens to be hated by the French government.” Lewis also wrote, “While we do not know all the facts, there is no question that Joseph Wilson has acted precisely as we might expect from an agent provocateur.”
To some extent, I can understand why the French might be doing what they appear to be doing. After all, France has its own agenda: it desires to lead the European Union and act in opposition to the United States. Raising a political stink with faked documents and with misinformation from the Francophile Wilson I recognize as normal nation-statecraft, but when the opposition turns deadly or provides aid and comfort to America’s enemies, a certain line has been crossed. Lewis points out how France has moved into the second category:
French hatred of American power is the reason why France pressured Turkey (anxious to enter the EU) to block the US IV Infantry Division from crossing Iraq’s northern border to help knock over Saddam Hussein. Had the IV ID hit Saddam from the North while Tommy Franks attacked from the South, the current Iraqi insurrection might have been crushed even before it got started, the Baathist hardcore unable to flee north to the Sunni Triangle and entrench itself among the small percentage of Iraqis who benefited from Saddam’s rule. The original plan envisioned just such a pincer movement. We therefore owe many of our 2,000 soldiers’ deaths to deliberate and malicious French sabotage, with thanks to Dominique de Villepin and Jacques Chirac.
Is there concrete proof? No, but these events do seem to have a whole mess of French fingerprints all over them. I didn’t see French ships aiding America’s enemy as my Dad did in Vietnam, but I am starting to see enough suggestions that France is working to thwart our efforts to make Iraq a better place.
Now you know why I don’t like the French government very much.