I was going to write about something serious this week. Instead, with the indulgence of my long-suffering editor, I’ve decided to write about the French and the U.N. Our insufferable weasel pals are at it again in the U.N., the media, and everywhere else they can stick their refined noses.
A few weeks ago, our bestest buddy poet and sometime diplomat Dominique de Villepin — the French foreign minister who declined in March ’03 to answer the direct question of who he wanted to win the Iraq war — was reassigned by President Chirac to the post of Interior Minister. In the U.S., that would be the equivalent of demoting Colin Powell to head of the National Park Service. But in France, it’s a promotion. The Interior Ministry, we must remember, is responsible for law and security, and runs the French equivalent of the FBI and domestic counter-terrorist activities. De Villepin, who has been a Chirac protégé for almost thirty years, is being groomed for the prime ministership. Our French friends are setting themselves up for another decade of anti-American antics.
Back in January, French defense minister Michele Alliot-Marie said, “The American administration cannot stay so long in the eyes of its own public opinion on such bad terms with one of its oldest allies.” (She apparently believes that relations with France are something the average American actually gives a rat’s patootie about.) I don’t know if her statement resulted in the call I got last week, but it seems likely.
The very nice lady on the other end of the phone identified herself as a French conservative seeking to publish her writings in America. As she explained, she has no way to get published in France because the media elites there are entirely liberal, and no conservative voice can be tolerated by them. That’s the term she used over and over: the elites. In her view, only the elites are capable of writing or publishing. The common Frenchman (i.e., peasant) — amongst whom the only conservatives roam free — lacks the resources and the intelligence to do it for himself. The thought of publishing anything without the permission of the elites was impossible according to my interlocutoress. I told her that was impossible in a free country. “France,” she explained, “is not free.”
Sounding the theme of Miz Alliot-Marie, this lady said she wanted to publish a series of scholarly articles that were bound to help mend the estrangement of her land and mine. She was sure that if Americans only knew how close our nations had been since America was born, we’d surely mend the fence. That’s where I stopped her.
I TOLD THIS KIND SOUL that there were very few Americans over the age of twelve who haven’t been taught the role of the French in our revolution, and our payment of that debt in blood — twice over — freeing France from German invasion. I told her, perhaps in terms that were less gentlemanly than they should have been, that we don’t need to be told what we already know. And that we don’t really give a damn anymore because France is irrelevant to the America political equation.
She was a bit shocked. She, like the few other French conservatives who may exist, still looks down on us poor ignorant bastards across the pond and assumes we regard them as important. She was so certain that if only we knew how much we had in common, we’d come back to Paris with a smile on our faces. Her refrain, that America was Roman and France was Greek (the classical analogies are a bit lost on me), was the basis for our misunderstanding. Too bad that it’s more than just G.I. misunderstanding that divides us.
I told this lady that it would be far better for her to ask American help to save her nation from its current system of government. Were she to ask for American help in extending the Vast Right Wing Media Conspiracy to France — and end the obstacle to publication of the works of all three French conservatives placed there by the “elites” who control French media — she’d probably succeed in getting us foolishly generous Americans to fund a French-language edition of TAS to every French bookstore. Maybe Roger Ailes would broadcast Fox News with French subtitles. (The EUnuchs would probably jam the signal). If they want to start another French Revolution, we’ll donate the grease for Madame Guillotine’s blade. In truth, as I told her, there is only one remedy: a French initiative to mend the fences. We’ve done it too many times, and we’ve always been answered with more enmity and opposition. It’s a fools’ errand for us. As is this week’s renewal of the U.N. kabuki dance.
ONCE AGAIN (SIGH) we are back at Kofi’s playground to beg for another resolution. And, of course, we won’t get it. This time, we want the Kupcakes to bless the partial turnover of Iraqi sovereignty on June 30, and allow us the last word on the WMD search in some U.N. report. Doesn’t anyone in Foggy Bottom and the White House see the nuttiness in even asking for this? With Monsewer Chirac (and Bad Vlad and Hu Jintao) still holding a veto in the Security Council, why would he ever allow us anything more than another chance to put our eye in the way of his sharp stick?
To think that the U.N. will allow us the last word on anything is absurd. To think that the U.N. would allow us the last word on the “legitimacy” of the Iraq war is to misunderstand the U.N. in the most profound sense. It is a mechanism to constrain America, not to cooperate with it in defense of freedom. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we will win the war against terrorists and the states that sponsor them. That can happen soon after we leave the U.N. to its errant ways, and get on with bidness.
TAS Contributing Editor Jed Babbin is the author of the forthcoming book, Inside the Asylum: How the U.N. and Old Europe are Worse than You Think.