June 25, 2003

The Apogee of Free-Riding Wonderful

The Apogee of Free-Riding

Wonderful line from Dominique de Villepin's speech to the UNSC today:

"La prŽsence militaire amŽricaine et britannique dans la rŽgion appuie notre volontŽ collective. Chacun reconna”t l'efficacitŽ de cette pression de la communautŽ internationale. Nous devons l'utiliser pour aller jusqu'au bout de notre objectif de dŽsarmement par les inspections. L'Union europŽenne l'a rappelŽ : ces inspections n'ont pas vocation ˆ se prolonger indŽfiniment. Il faut accŽlŽrer le mouvement."

Translation for you non-Francophones: "The American and British military presence in the region reinforces our collective will [ed. note. pull out the Rousseau!]. Everyone recognizes the efficacy of this pressure from the international community. We need to use it to the end of our objective of disarmament through inspections. The European Union has reminded us: these inspections are not to last indefinitely. We must accelarate their movement."

How breathtakingly hypocritical! The U.S. and British forces, a good 250,000 of them, are in the region representing the collective will of the international community--including France and Germany, of course. But it is precisely the French that are reducing the efficacy of the troop deployment as a means to pressure Saddam since the French give the Iraqi leader hope that severe international dislocations (the tensions in NATO, at the UN, in trans-atlantic relations, etc) will stave off a conflict. It is the French that are the pivotal actor in preventing a "collective will" from materializng so that Saddam might, one could always hope against hope, feel so immensely pressured that he just might actually flee or crack.

But there's more. "We need to use it to the end of our objective of disarmament through inspections." [my emphasis] What is "it", I ask you? In de Villepin's purposefully opaque reasoning, it's the "pressure of the international community." But his previous sentence acknowledges that said pressure (the collective will again), essentially, results directly from the presence of U.S. and U.K. troops arrayed on the Arabian peninsula.

Ah, so the U.S. and U.K. will pay for their troops to languish in the desert through the summer, as Blix comes around for (another Villepin idea) status reports at the UNSC every three weeks. All bunched up in Kuwait too, just in case al-Qaeda or Saddam want to strike at them while they are based there waiting for Paris to be persuaded that inspections can't work?

And these troops, really, represent France's (as France, of course, is really undergirding the reasoned collective will of the international community) stolid will to bring Saddam to task.

Even for the Quai D'Orsay, methinks this was a rich performance. And can you say free-riding par excellence? Incroyable, mais vrai.

UPDATE: Elaine Sciolino has an update on Dom here. Like Jacques, of course, he "loves" America.

Posted by Gregory at June 25, 2003 07:31 PM
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