August 31, 2004

Iyad Allawi to Le Monde

Some no nonsense talk to France from the Iraqi PM (translation mine).

Q: Pensez-vous que l'affaire des otages franais provoquera un changement de la politique de la France en Irak ?

Translation: Do you think that the French hostage situation will provoke a French change of policy in Iraq?

Allawi: Les Franais, ainsi que tous les pays dŽmocratiques, ne peuvent pas se contenter d'adopter une position passive. Les AmŽricains, les Britanniques et les autres nations qui se battent en Irak ne se battent pas seulement pour protŽger les Irakiens, ils se battent aussi pour protŽger leur propre pays.

Les gouvernements qui dŽcident de rester sur la dŽfensive seront les prochaines cibles des terroristes. Les attentats se produiront ˆ Paris, ˆ Nice, ˆ Cannes ou ˆ San Francisco. Le temps est venu d'agir contre le terrorisme, de la mme faon que, jadis, l'Europe a combattu Hitler. Tous les jours, des dizaines de personnes sont tuŽes en Irak. Elles ne meurent pas parce que nous traversons une crise nationale majeure, mais parce que nous avons dŽcidŽ de combattre le mal. C'est pourquoi toute la communautŽ internationale doit nous aider, au plus vite, pour amŽliorer la sŽcuritŽ de notre pays.

Un jour, les Etats-Unis ont dŽcidŽ de dŽbarquer en Normandie, pour Žliminer Hitler. Ils ont essuyŽ de lourdes pertes pour accomplir cet objectif. Il se produit la mme chose aujourd'hui. Les peuples doivent prendre leurs responsabilitŽs. La dŽcision d'aider l'Irak Žtait courageuse. Laissez-moi vous dire que les Franais, malgrŽ tout le bruit qu'ils font - "Nous ne voulons pas la guerre !" -, auront bient™t ˆ combattre les terroristes.

Translation: "The French, like all democratic countries, can't content themselves with adopting a passive position. The Americans, the British and other nations that are fighting in Iraq are not only fighting to protect Iraqis, they are fighting to protect their own countries.

The governments that decide to stay on the defensive will be the next targets of the terrorists. Terrorist attacks will occur in Paris, in Nice, in Cannes or in San Francisco. The time has come to act against terrorism, in the same fashion...that Europe fought Hitler. Every day, tens of people are killed in Iraq. They are not dying because we are going through a major national crisis, but because we have decided to combat evil. That's why the entire international community must assist us, as rapidly as possible, to improve the security of our country.

...the U.S. decided to disembark in Normandy, to eliminate Hitler. They suffered heavy losses to accomplish this objective. The same thing is happening today. People must assume their responsibilities. The decision to assist Iraq is courageous. Let me tell you that the French, despite all the noise they make--'We don't want war!'--will shortly have to fight the terrorists."

Some of this rhetoric is exagerrated, of course. Still, Allawi is right to remind France of the civilizational stakes at play. And, despite sarcastic simpletons in Le Monde's chat rooms, the latest Le Monde masthead indicates that some in France are starting to listen:

Cette guerre que mne le terrorisme se rŽclamant de l'islam concerne, nous le savons depuis le premier jour, toutes les dŽmocraties. Personne n'est ˆ l'abri, aucune diplomatie ne peut prŽtendre constituer une quelconque ligne Maginot qui nous protŽgerait mieux que nos voisins espagnols ou italiens de la volontŽ de mort qui est ˆ l'Ļuvre depuis les attaques du 11 septembre 2001. On touche lˆ aux limites de l'antiamŽricanisme qui semble trop souvent tenir lieu de politique Žtrangre franaise.

Translation: "This war of terrorism that claims Islam concerns, we knew from the first day, all of the democracies. No one is safe, no diplomacy can pretend to constitute a Maginot line that will protect us better than our Spanish or Italian neighbors from this willingness to die which is at work since 9/11. We have touched the limits of anti-Americanism that seems too often to take the place of a French foreign policy."

Not quite, "we are all Americans". But not your typical Le Monde fare either.

France is clearly in shock--partly because they are confronting the fact that non-participation in Iraq doesn't guarantee security for its citizens. Zut alors.
Also doubtless alarming, it is dawning on some in France that Chirac and de Villepin's hysterical policy of contain-America-at-all-costs looks increasingly amateurish and incompetent in the face of existential perils.

Evil still stalks the planet, Jacques. Welcome to the post 9/11 world. And 500 troops in Afghanistan is not a contribution worthy of a soi disant major power. Unless it's a power in deep decline, that is...

UPDATE: The French, it appears, weren't too happy about the Iraqi PM's comments:

Les propos de M. Allaoui "inacceptables"

Les dŽclarations du premier ministre irakien, Iyad Allaoui, qui, ˆ la suite de l'enlvement des deux journalistes franais, a critiquŽ la position de la France face au terrorisme (Le Monde du 31 aožt) "ne sont pas acceptables", a dŽclarŽ, lundi 30 aožt, la porte-parole adjointe du Quai d'Orsay, CŽcile Pozzo di Borgo. "Ces dŽclarations semblent en effet jeter un doute sur la dŽtermination de la France dans la lutte contre le terrorisme (...) La France mne sans rel‰che une action rŽsolue contre ce flŽau et elle a toujours apportŽ son soutien et sa contribution ˆ toutes les initiatives de la communautŽ internationale dans ce domaine", a-t-elle ajoutŽ. Paris rappelle que la France a "plaidŽ en permanence pour la recherche d'une solution politique" en Irak et estime que "la tenue d'Žlections libres et dŽmocratiques doit permettre de rŽunir les conditions d'une vŽritable reconstruction politique et Žconomique de l'Irak".

Translation: The declarations of...Allawi....[where he] criticized France's position on terrorism "are not acceptable," declared [a Quai D'Orsay spokeswoman]. "These declarations appear to throw in doubt France's determination in the fight against terrorism...France has been leading a resolute action against [terror] without respite and has always given its support to all initiatives of the international community in this domain," she added. Paris also recalled that France has "all along strived for a political settlement" in Iraq and believes that "holding free and democratic elections will provide the conditions for the true political and economic reconstruction of Iraq."

They still don't get it.

Posted by Gregory at August 31, 2004 01:15 AM

My understanding about France's position regarding the current War On Terror is that while it may be driven by many things, one driving factor is that France can't afford to go war like the UK and others can.

Even if France were 100% behind what the coalition is doing, I don't think France could contribute much more militarily than it is already.

I don' think France wants to admit how weak it has become militarily. If I were France, with such a large population of Muslim fundamentalist sympathizers, I wouldn't want to admit my weaknesses either.

I'm not sure what more France could contribute beyond what they have already. Diplomatically, perhaps they have a lot to add. Militarily I don't see it.

Anyone have a different view on France's military capabilities that I'm unaware of? By military I mean traditional, not nuclear.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at August 31, 2004 02:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The French Government has enough troops to intervene in Africa when ever it suits---How many French Soldiers are in the Ivory Coast right now?

The French have made their power play, and it has failed miserably.

Posted by: Eric Blair at August 31, 2004 02:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It brings to mind a quote attributed to Norman Swarzkopff (sic) ..."going to war without France is like going bear hunting without your accordion".

Posted by: Mike Winter at August 31, 2004 02:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

France can't afford to go to war? Perhaps, but it seems perfectly willing to engage in inflammatory anti-American rhetoric to the detriment of its own citizens (not to mention those of the allies and Iraq). Now they (the government) have undergone a rude awkening.

Posted by: Alex at August 31, 2004 02:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If France merely became a cheer leader instead of a detractor that would be a very good start.

A different attitude towards Iran would be a sign of helpfulness.

Posted by: M. Simon at August 31, 2004 03:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I am constantly reminded of an encounter between an American and two French women. Their brief encounter ended with the French women saying to the American .. "Chirac is protecting us, who is protecting you ?"
Ah, yes .. who is protected ?

Posted by: J_Crater at August 31, 2004 03:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

While I agree that France could do more, as could the Germans, the size of their deployable force is open to question. Both countries rely on conscripts to feed their military machines, and thereÕs only so much training and utilization one can get out of short-termers.

That means that careerists form their battle-ready forces. I have no idea what their retention rate is, but with GermanyÕs active force of 270K, only about 10K are regarded as deployable outside the EU. I donÕt know if that includes the 5k German active duty military in CONUS at any given time.

For what itÕs worth, Canadian ground forces officers I knew in Germany (Lahr) in the late 1970s regarded the French garrisons nearby with disdain.

Finally, the Europeans donÕt have airlift or logistics. TheyÕve always focused their military planning and expenditures on defending their own borders, and not always seriously as the Belgian military establishment shows Š great bands, fantastic hairdressers, but not known as savages in the heat of battle. The Europeans donÕt have the spares, depots, systems, and airlift to support a deployed force for any duration. NATO has always relied on the US, and France has just enough force mobility and commercial savvy to keep uranium flowing from Africa to its reactors (70% of French electricity comes from nukes).

One last swipe at France Š their current aircraft carrier has the propellers from its old one. The flight deck has proven to be too short. They wonÕt have a floating airbase they can take out of the Mediterranean until their next carrier Š theyÕre piggybacking on a Brit buy Š comes out of the shipyard several years from now. Oh, the Brits are buying two carries, the French one. Need I write more?

Posted by: The Kid at August 31, 2004 03:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Why anyone would seriously consider the craven French capable of any resolute action escapes moi. WWI enfeebled them, WWII removed what was left of their spine. They like to delude themselves that they're punching above their weight, but we all know otherwise. In a generation the Moslems will be running the show and all the women of France will be wearing headscarves. The French excellence in haute couture will ensure they are attractive.

Posted by: Jerry at August 31, 2004 03:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

We shouldn't be too upset that the French are siding with the Muslims. France is an easy-to-manage enemy but as an ally, they're absolutely treacherous.

Posted by: Arty at August 31, 2004 04:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Never has Europe been so wealthy, so prosperous, so populous, it's cities so clean and pretty, it's youth so handsome. And it does nothing.
No morals, no ethics, no courage, it's future decided by others. Europe can pay now in the hundreds, or later in the millions. But She must pay. Nuclear weapons exist. The Islamofascists want them. It's a matter of time. Somehow, someway, someday. Goodbye Paris, Berlin, Rome.

Posted by: Paul Coyle at August 31, 2004 04:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The French here in Afghanistan are part of ISAF - which is a NATO driven entity. Support mechanisms are in place already. If France wanted, it could deploy more troops here - or Iraq if it so decided. Not overwhelming numbers mind you, but they still have the ability to make some greater impact, should they choose to do so.

Posted by: Major John at August 31, 2004 04:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Posted by: Barry Meislin at August 31, 2004 02:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

My, my so much resentment against the French ... I guess the bottom in line is that Toqueville was right, Americans just can't stand criticism ... And the French are guilty because -gasp- they dare not follow in lockstep with Bush. Good for them. The truth is that French foreign policy has been consistent in its support of Arab secular regimes for the last 40 years. The French make no bones about this and about protecting their interests. They identified islamism as a major threat years ago and believe that progress in the middle east can more easily be achieved by supporting regimes that fight extremism -such as in Morocco or Algeria or Lebanon-, regardless of their democratinc shortcomings, and encouraging change in these countries, than by pursuing wildly oscillating and self-defeating policies that help propagate extremism on the one hand while claiming to fight it on the other - these swings lead to entirely unreasonable and wildly contradictory policies such as the neo-con project for wholesale democratization of the middle east by force. French realism is refreshing at a time when America is falling into in cheesy nationalistic propaganda and irrationality and sentimentality. The statement that France is an ally of islamic extremists, or hope to stay out of this fight, is a smear. France has been fighting islamic extremists for years - since they bombed Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 80s. For many years, at time when America was courting Islamists as a counterweight to Soviet influence in the middle east, and arming the Mujaidin in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and propping up the regime most responsible for the spread of Wahabbism, Saudi Arabia , and later playing footsie with the Taliban, the French were warning of the danger. For this reason, they were -and continue to be- a major target for extremists.

Posted by: Mark at August 31, 2004 02:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Can you please speak up? I can't hear you over the poop de couchon that's spewing from your mouth. "French realism is refreshing at a time when America is falling into in cheesy nationalistic propaganda and irrationality and sentimentality" is the most hilarious line I've read in ages. Ah yez, les Americains, so sentimental, unlike us French...

No one begrudges the French for pursuing their own interests, dude. It's what nations do. But A)claiming that there is no threat from the nutball Islamic fringe; B) claiming there isn't any financial interest that's driving French middle eastern policy; C) acting unilaterally when it suits them, as in the Ivory Coast; and D) seriously thinking the U.S. is more dangerous than the mustache-wearing turdballs in the Middle East; now that's senitmentality.

Posted by: Rob at August 31, 2004 04:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"The time has come to act against terrorism ..."

What a concept. Acting against terrorism with well purposed resolve. Or alternatively we can equivocate, tergiversate and commiserate with great displays of angst and irresolve.

"... existential perils."

Yea, little things like that. So easy to forget when there is such a variety and lineage of pseudo-intellectual anti-Western and anti-American pieties to choose from, in large part to prop up little more than egoistic facades.

"The decision to assist Iraq is courageous."

And obviously so. The very fact this needs to be argued and advanced as such is a telling reflection of the vacant, reality averse qualities the various derivations of the old sclerotic Left brings to bear in this debate.

Posted by: Michael B at August 31, 2004 04:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm still ROTFL over Allawi's dig at San Francisco.

Posted by: Karl at August 31, 2004 04:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Americans would have to think about it and swallow real hard, but we would PROBABLY react stongly about San Francisco being blown up.


Posted by: leaddog2 at August 31, 2004 05:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If you document yourself you will see that when the USA was busy in building what we call today 'terrorism' in fact Europe, mainly France and Spain, were fighting it.
No it seem strange that they are labelled cowards or whatever.
About Prime Minister Allawi(who was involved in terrorist actions) its message seems more like blackmail to France than anything else...

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