Friday, September 19, 2003

France and the Iraq Train Wreck

Thomas Friedman certainly knows a lot more about the middle east than I do (and "a lot" being an understatement), so I usually defer to him on these things. But I was a bit surprised to see him apparently jumping on the 'Blame France For it All' bandwagon. His article does make a good argument that France's continued resistance to assist in Iraq is harming the overall situation, not just for Iraqis and the U.S., but the whole region. However, the argument is much the same that many make against the Democrats, that unless you blindly cheer for the war, than you are hoping for the U.S. to fail (and therefore must be on the side of evil).

But think of the Iraq situation as a train - that before the war it was dangerous, but under control. The French, along with many (most?) throughout the world, said that there might be a different way to derail the train. Of course the U.S. went ahead without them (calling the detractors names in the process) and bombed the hell out of the train. The war has since sped the train up and removed its brakes, so it is now careening wildly faster. And now that the train is out of control, and heading for a cliff, the U.S. is telling the French that if they don't get on the train now it will be their fault that it goes off the cliff.

It is much easier to point fingers and try to cast blame on other people, but that does not help the situation. Sure the French could be more helpful, but I can understand why they are reluctant to send in troops (Friedman implies that France's intentions are quite sinister). We need all the help we can get, but we will have to work hard to get that assistance, and cannot expect to have everything the exact the way we want it, with all the assistance on our terms. The Bush administration bears the burden of the Iraq problem, and so they need show they have a way out of it. The administration needs to show that their solution is in everyone's best interest, and that is not just a plan that is just good enough to make Bush look good in time for the 2004 election.

Our War With France

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