I hear a lot of people trying to figure out what France’s real motives are for staunchly opposing war with Iraq. Ironically, one of the ones I hear most often is the possibility that France is holding out due to its oil deals. These are usually the same people who say with absolute conviction that oil has nothing to do with the United States’ reason for wanting war.
What bothers me is the consistent assumption that France has base motives. Maybe they do, but let’s just step away from the situation and think about this logically. Could it be that France feels that avoiding (or postponing) a war is as much a moral issue as Bush thinks going to war is? Chirac has the support of a huge majority of his people and, in fact, a huge majority of the people worldwide. Most other governments in the world agree with Chirac as well — that the inspections are working, even though we have to keep Iraq under duress to make them work. But here in America, it’s played as though France’s behavior is outrageous.
I don’t agree with the French position, but their efforts at thwarting war have been no more outlandish than ours in promoting it. Just as France is obliquely threatening the potential EU membership of Eastern European countries that support war, we’re threatening countries that oppose war. Just as France is dismissing new UN resolutions that put the rubber stamp on a war without any consideration, so too are we dismissing new compromise deals that would give the inspections more time.
My point here is that we need to be a little less sanctimonious about France. Not only are their views in line with most of the rest of the world, but their behavior is no more strident than our own. I just think we need to be more honest with ourselves.