Yesterday, I read some news that led me to a startling conclusion. I had discovered a new rule, a new principle of international relations that tied together a bunch of events and trends. And like all great insights, it is stunning in its simplicity:
There is no situation so bad that it cannot be exacerbated by the French.
Pearl Harbor? The attack that led to the United States entering World War II, and ultimately leading to the liberation of France? According to some French military officers, the attack was laudable.
The China/Taiwan conflict? Why, back the Communist dictators against a flourishing democracy!
And now we have the French attempting to intervene in the Zacarias Moussaoui case. Some are even saying that France wants to take custody of him, a French citizen of Moroccan extraction, and imprison him for us.
Just how bad an idea is this? Let me count the ways.
Un. The French have a very sizable and very boisterous, even rebellious, Muslim population. They have been demanding more and more concessions to their “culture” and “faith” and “way of life” from the France, under threats of violence, and (quelle surprise) been getting them. It wouldn’t take long at all for freedom for Moussaoui to rise to the top of their lists of demands, once he is in the custody of the French government.
Deux. The French have a long-established history of conceding to demands, yielding in the face of violence and threats of violence. The first time a French citizen is kidnapped and offered for Moussaoui, he’ll be loaded up with cheese and wine and stuck on the first Air France flight to wherever he wants to go.
Trois. France’s foreign policy seems centered around providing a “counter” to the United States, attempting to block whatever we wish to do with an almost-Pavlovian passion. If we are for something, they automatically oppose it without bothering to consider the issue on its own merits.
Quatre. Moussaoui’s crimes were uniquely against Americans and the United States as a nation. We have the right and the duty to punish him for his actions against us, and to surrender him to any other nation would not only be a violation of our sovereignty, but a betrayal of all those who died on 9/11 and their families who counted on the United States to bring about some measure of justice.
I could go on, with reasons cinq through dix and beyond, but the point is stunningly simple: this is not France’s affair. They need to worry far more about their own problems (and they are legion) and butt the hell out.
I am reminded of the buildup to the war in Iraq. While we were attempting to recruit allies, France was doing all it could to stymie us. They openly bribed African nations to oppose us in the UN, and leaned heavily on the newly-liberated countries of Eastern Europe to stay out of the matter. Jacques Chirac said, after the fact, that they “missed a great opportunity to shut up.”
Good advice, France. Practice what you preach.