2003 February 08 Saturday
Containment Or Preemption Against France?

Think about it. A nuclear armed nation controlling a key location on the continent of Europe has allied itself with a corrupt arms-proliferating regime in the Middle East. I realize that well-informed people can have honest differences about matters of grand strategy and I certainly respect Richard Perle's strategic acumen. But shouldn't we be talking about preemption instead of containment as the appropriate strategy to use against our enemy France?

France is no longer an ally of the United States and the NATO alliance "must develop a strategy to contain our erstwhile ally or we will not be talking about a NATO alliance" the head of the Pentagon's top advisory board said in Washington Tuesday.

Richard Perle has called France an erstwhile ally. This is confusing in itself. France used to be allied with the United States? When was this? Perhaps I'm not old enough to remember that era. But lets take Perle's word for it. This throws a whole nuther light on European politics. Great Britain and other countries in Europe have been pursuing a strategy of appeasement thru the facility of EU Common Agricultural Policy food aid to prop up the French regime. One can understand why frontline states are reluctant to take on the French militarily. The French are a nuclear power after all. But can we trust the French to refrain from exporting their weapons technology to our enemies? It seems doubtful.

We come then to the question of what is an appropriate policy for handling France. The UK has been trying a strategy of engagement with their sunshine policy. They have even gone as far as opening rail links to France so that East Asian goods can travel across Asian and Europe to Britain. The leader of the UK has summit meetings with his French counterpart and tries to maintain his composure in the face of numerous provocations. But what has this strategy bought him? Most recently one result has been a French-crafted proposal for a political union that would destroy the sovereign independence of his great nation.

Appeasement is not working. The French, demonstrating the strength of their paranoid internal system of indoctrination, straightfacedly blame the United States for all the political crises of the world. Not matter how hard Secretary of State Colin Powell has tried to placate them the French can't see beyond their ideological label of United States as a capitalistic hyperpower oppressor. Their doctrinaire hardline at the United Nations and in other fora demonstrates the intractability of the French regime. It is clear that only a strategy of preemption will work against it.

Its time we take the French threat seriously. Once the Iraqi regime falls we should begin to build up our forces in England in preparation for a lightning strike to take down the 5th so-called Republic.

Update: I finally recall what Perle must have been referring to: The United States were allied with France during the US Revolutionary War of Independence against the British colonial oppressors. So Perle was correct to speak of France as our erstwhile ally. Plus, we were allied with France briefly during WWI. So we've been allied with France twice. Of course, more recently we fought the French in North Africa. Since then we've been in a Cold War with them, France having outlasted the Soviet Union as a tenacious enemy. Therefore as an enemy France has more in common with Cuba and North Korea than with the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 February 08 12:20 AM  Europe and America

Richard R. Fernandez said at February 8, 2003 1:44 AM:

The current "War on Terror" is a war within a war. The United States represents a subversive force to a shrinking, but still considerable number of states. In particular, it is a threat to the unconditional legitimacy of the state system. The post-colonial world grew comfortable with the notion that borders were inviolable, however absurd; that the installed powers in national capitals attained to international respect and deference however brutal and dysfunctional they might be.

The the sacrosanctity of North Korea, Iraq and Cuba was guaranteed by the Cold War. There were patrons to choose from. The ultimate atomicity of the state was expressed in the United Nations, where Liberia was just as much a country as China.

France is leading the effort to stop America at all costs; even if this means making cause with medieval Islam. It fears that a war on Iraq may have the same effect in international relations as Concord did to the status quo in colonial America. It will sweep away the ancient regime and substitute something yet unguessed for it.

But it will happen anyway, and the problem America faces is not how to "contain France". Rather it is how to manage the forces that will be unleashed by the weakening the state system. These forces are titanic. Much of the world consists of countries created by mischievous colonial mapmakers; countries which are now breaking apart of their own absurdity.

The current international system has now reached the stage where the inviolability of the state cannot be reconciled with the maintenance of the general peace. Iraq, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Central Asia, the Balkans and Central Asia are all questions crying out for answers that the UN does not want to provide. France wants the status quo preserved at all events, for therein lies the last dregs of its former power. Yet the old world is already dead, in ashes along with the World Trade Center, and its replacement is not yet in sight.

Tom Roberts said at February 8, 2003 7:56 AM:

But why invade France? They haven't any oil, and the wine from California is just as good. Give the Moslem immigres a few decades and the wine might be spoilt also.

Michael said at February 8, 2003 9:09 AM:

Richard,you seem to presume that the U.S. will be able to maintain it's own territorial integrity.
It won't.

Randall Parker said at February 8, 2003 10:00 AM:

Tom, The post is satire. It is a subtle attempt to draw a parallel with North Korea without mentioning it by name. There's a proposal to build a train connection between North and South Korea so that Europe can trade with South Korea via trains that run across Russia. So I mentioned the Channel Tunnel train connection to make the parallel. Ditto for the CAP funding from the EU. Ditto for the mention of ideological indoctrination. I'm making fun of the French.

Richard Fernandez said at February 8, 2003 2:27 PM:


The reason that borders are dissolving today is that borders are forming -- based on more stable ethnic, religious or political lines. Yugoslavia has just vanished, but you can say will equal truth that Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia and Kosovo have emerged. France and the UN are trying to prop up the old framework because the great part of their power is bound up in it. The USA, of all the great powers, understands that a tectonic shift is under way comparable, if not greater than, the process of decolonization at the end of the Second World War. And it is determined to attempt to manage this change.

You are correct in observing that the US territorial boundaries are not exempt from these forces. But given the dynamism of the American idea, these boundaries are likely to expand, rather than contract. The idea of an expanding American boundary was a natural one for more than half of this nation's history. It is perfectly plausible to envision a United States joined by parts of Canada, and perhaps Australia. Then of course, there is Mars. Seriously. Mars is to America what the Australia was to Britain in the age when they dominated navigation and sail.

One thing is certain. The boundaries of the world at the end of the next century will not resemble those of today. It is a shame that France and the UN should think so.

Tom Roberts said at February 8, 2003 3:37 PM:

Randall: So was my response, unless anyone truly believes that the world is "all about oil and booze"...

Randall Parker said at February 8, 2003 4:15 PM:

Tom, Thick me.

Okay, in the spirit of your post: If we took over the French government and installed a puppet regime then the puppet regime would vote our way in the UN Security Council. This would make life easier for Tony Blair since he could then more easily get UN approval for UK participation in US wars against rogue regimes.

Randall Parker said at February 8, 2003 4:20 PM:

Tom, One other thing: Yes, if we installed a puppet government in France we'd still have to deal with Russia and China on the UN Security Council. But Frnance is also a member of NATO. If we invaded France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg and installed puppet regimes in all of those countries then we could have a united NATO in our war against terrorists and against regimes developing WMD. I doubt that the Eastern Europeans would object.

Tom Roberts said at February 9, 2003 1:20 PM:

The French customs agents and gendarmes could also be given remedial English and etiquette lessons so that English and US tourism would be much pleasanter. But we are now dealing with impossibly unrealistic future possibilities.

Joe Katzman said at February 9, 2003 8:29 PM:


You should tag these with a "parody" label; some people might not see the joke as well as the serious points you're making.

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