Originally created 02/19/03

France is part of problem



There's a joke going around that France will soon be sending its "special ops" unit to Iraq - to train Iraqis in the art of surrendering.

Someone also has suggested that the famous "Chicken Dance" song is now the French national anthem.

Growing American resentment of France, perhaps at an all-time high, is no joke, however. Consumers are promising to avoid French products, some businesses are taking the word "French" out of things such as french fries, restaurants and bars have poured out French wine and politicians are mulling over restrictions on French imports.

While government sanctions are dubious and unlikely, individual Americans are free to express their disdain for America's most strident diplomatic foe in the Iraq crisis.

And French President Jacques Chirac is only making things worse with his unbridled arrogance and unyielding intransigence. Earlier this week he attacked Eastern European leaders sympathetic to the U.S. cause for having missed a great opportunity to shut up.

"It is not really responsible behavior," Chirac said. "It is not well-brought-up behavior. They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet."

The same might be said of Chirac by Americans who, unlike him, seem to remember when Americans had to bail out the French in several little military skirmishes last century.

Talk about not being well-brought-up! Chirac's tirade was beyond arrogant. It may belie an undercurrent of desperation in Paris: The power structure in Europe is shifting, with the decline of French power and influence and the influx of Eastern European countries into the European Union and NATO.

France's only opportunities for relevance these days seem to flow from obstructionism and the kind of bubbling superciliousness that can only be bottled in France.

Rather than instruct Eastern European leaders on how to comport themselves, Mr. Chirac might instead want to pay more attention to the terrorism that seems to chronically brew under his upturned nose.

It is just such oblivious conceit as Chirac and his countrymen have demonstrated that allows madmen such as Saddam Hussein to be appeased and nurtured.

Jacques Chirac is part of the problem, and is making sure his country will never be part of the solution.