Friday, September 21, 2007

Sooner or Later, France Has to Revolt in the Right Direction

And you thought the whole word hated us, especially the French. (Or maybe it’s only that it's the the French whose good opinion the Left really yearns for.)

Alas, France’s new Foreign Minister, (successor to the duplicitous Dominique de Villepin, whose knife is still buried in Colin Powell’s back), “made news this week by warning that a failure to resolve mounting tensions with Iran could mean war.” (“Kouchner, French foreign minister, draws antiwar protesters in Washington”),

In response, Code Pink sent its delegation to the hotel ballroom Thursday where Kouchner was speaking to leap up and unfurl “pink banners that read: ‘Bush + Kouchner = Warmongers!’ One woman tried to climb onto the stage…. Guards escorted the protesters away as they shouted, ‘No war with Iran! No war with Iran!’”

I myself am looking forward to the outburst and arrests that I’m just certain Code Pink is going to stage next week during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s teach-in at Columbia University.

Anyway, it still puzzles the Left that Kouchner has taken such a hard position towards Iran. After all, as the International Herald Tribune explains, “Kouchner is a Socialist who joined the rightist government of President Nicolas Sarkozy and is also a founder of the Nobel Prize-winning humanitarian group Médecins sans Frontières.”

It was shocking that someone totally hip to the Socialist solution and founder of one of NPR’s favorite interview subjects (actually, Kouchner broke with MSF years ago over “the right to intervene and the use of armed force for humanitarian reasons.” should come out in favor of a military option in response to a military threat. How obnoxiously linear.

So right after Kouchner made his historic (dare we say revolutionary?) remarks about Iran’s looming belligerence and nuclear ambitions leading to a possible war, he felt pressure to backpedal. After the Code Pink demonstrators were removed on Thursday, Kouchner asked that they be allowed to return.

"But they are right," he told the crowd. As the chants continued from beyond the closed doors, he offered an undiplomatic, "But I agree, stupid!" drawing laughter. He directed the guards to let the protesters return….as the surprised members of the antiwar group Code Pink filed back into the room, Kouchner said, "I'm not in favor of war with Iran, I want to prevent the war - so they were right!"

He didn’t really think they were right, naturally, otherwise he would be stupid. When one of the reprieved Code Pinkos again started yelling about Iran, “he asked, ‘What do you propose?’ ‘Dialogue without sanctions,’ she replied. He laughed. ‘That's been done,’ he said. ‘This is not, let's say, a very strong position.’”

Which means, when translated from the French means, “alors, that’s très stupide, you want to get us all incinerated?”

What Kouchner means when he says he’s not in favor of war with Iran is that, he hopes it can be resolved short of that, without France having to surrender its sovereignty to an insane Islamic nuclear terror state. In other words, his position matches the American position exactly: let’s work this out diplomatically if we can, but we aren’t going to commit suicide:

Underscoring the changed U.S.-French dynamic, Bush warned Friday that the free world was "not going to tolerate" a nuclear-armed Iran. In Paris, Sarkozy said he favored stronger UN sanctions, which were discussed Friday at multi-nation talks in Washington.

Of all the world's problems, Kouchner said Thursday, Iran posed "the crisis the most pregnant with threats."

"Without exaggeration," he said to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "I would say that our responses to this situation today will shape the world in which we live tomorrow."

A nuclear-armed Iran, he said, was "unacceptable." And repeated good-faith efforts by the West to engage with Tehran, he said, had been rebuffed.

"To those who say that we should handle Iran with kid gloves since it could destabilize the region, I say this: Look at its adventurism today and imagine what it would be like if Tehran thought itself one day protected by a nuclear umbrella."

The United States, Russia, China and their European partners need to pursue dialogue with Iran, "while keeping our heads cool, as far as we can go," Kouchner said in his speech. But "dialogue without sanctions is unfortunately tantamount to weakness."

We already know that when Kouchner says “sanctions,” he means to include “war.” His position tracks exactly with the Bush insistence that, where Iran and its nuclear programs are concerned, we can’t take the military option off the table.

Maureen Dowd once intemperately conferred on Cindy Sheehan “absolute moral authority” to pass judgment on the Iraq war because she had buried a child killed there, which makes as much sense as saying that a mother who buried a child killed in a traffic accident has the right to tell the nation to stop driving cars. (“Why No Tea and Sympathy?”).

Kouchner’s authority is not absolute, but it’s pretty strong, considering that he is reaching back, in my opinion, to the disastrous foreign policy of his childhood, when France was overrun by Germany after years of unmistakeable indicators of what Hitler’s intentions were.

According to Militant Islam Monitor Kouchner was a Communist very early on. Though he wasn’t born until 1939, he would have known all about how Hitler’s early breaches of treaties against German rearmament were met by French unwillingness to strengthen its own military to meet the threat. The Communists played an important role in that defeat, out of loyalty to Stalin, who had made the agreement with Ribbentrop to divide up Poland:

From the moment when Stalin made terms with Hitler, the Communists in France took their cue from Moscow and denounced the war as ‘an imperialist and capitalist crime against democracy.’ They did what they could to undermine morale in the Army and impede production in the workshops. The morale of France, both of her soldiers and her people, was now in May [1940] markedly lower than at the outbreak of war.”

France fell to Hitler a month later.

Pacifism played the same deadly role in Great Britain, where even Hitler’s defiant withdrawal of Germany from the League of Nations left the “pacifism of the Labour and Liberal parties” unaffected: “Both continued in the name of peace to urge British disarmament, and anyone who differed was called "warmonger" and "scaremonger."

According to Churchill, Hitler’s threatening moves after 1933 from time to time resulted in League of Nations votes and protests, but “how vain was all their voting without the readiness of any single Power or any group of Powers to contemplate the use of force, even in the last resort!....All [Hitler’s] terrible superiority had grown up because at no moment had the once victorious Allies dared to take any effective step, even when they were all-powerful, to resist repeated aggressions by Hitler and breaches of the Treaties.”

I don’t care at this point if Kouchner is a Socialist. He and Sarkozy both recognize the threat of a nuclear Iran, and a spreading Islamism in Europe. A minority of likeminded people are also waking up in Germany, in Holland, in Denmark, and in Great Britain. Spending his first years in the Third Reich may have given Kouchner insight into the kind of terms insane dictators are more than willing to impose on lovers of diplomacy and appeasement.

All I know is, France’s new found rationality is a welcome development, even if it comes late.

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