Friday, January 20, 2006

What The Hell Was Chirac Thinking?

Let me start by first saying I am not now, nor have I ever been a Frenchbasher. In fact I like the French. Like the indispensable help they gave us during the Revolutionary War, like the esteemed statesman Lafayette, the Statue of Liberty... and french fries. (Sorry, couldn't pass that up, and yes, french fries actually came from Belgium.. I think) Now to the matter at hand: As little Arnold was wont to say on "Different Strokes": "What you talking 'bout Jacques?" France will launch a nuclear strike on any nation that launches a "terrorist" strike on France. Huh? Did Jacques glug-glug too much cabernet sauvignon? Maybe yes, maybe no. But Chirac seems to pick an interesting time to say what he said. It was Thursday, the same day as the tenth anniversary of France breaking a nuclear testing moratorium in 1995. It doesn't take a genius to figure out given all the chest-thumping, war-drum-beating talk circulating now over Iran's nuclear program that part of Chirac's message was directed at the mullahs in Tehran. However, the smarter folks over at Deutsche Welle say his remarks merely reflect a reshaping of France's defense thinking. It's actually kinda simple: facing no Soviet bogeyman, or any other national enemy, for that matter, France's nuclear arsenal needs a target, any target, to retain its relevancy. So, if there are no nations worth bombing, you turn to the new bogeyman: the terrorists. France spends some 10% of its defense budget on a shiny nuclear submarine, "Le Vigilant." In fact, on the board of said vessel did Chirac make his remarks. Paris' war.... err, defense thinking is quite in line with Washington's. They're all itching to figure out a way to use those swell nukes. So, Paris in Washington are pursuing a policy of developing nukes which strike precisely at the enemy but without all the messy radiation fallout. It's insane, but, sadly sensible among the military elites who decide such things. One more thing on Chirac's remarks, they are ill-timed given the amped up tensions already out there over Iran. On the same day, that Yale dropout, and Vietnam five-time deferral, VP Dick Cheney added his own drum-beating bullshit, saying if Israel is attacked the U.S. will "obviously" support it militarily. Uh, like duh, really, dude? You had to really say this? We're talking Israel afterall. Nuff said. But all such talk is part and parcel to the Iranian gameplan, every page of it taken from the Iraqi attack playbook and leading, unfortunately, to the same ends. Let the farce of negotiations run their course making sure at every turn they have no chance of succeeding. That's followed by the grave announcements that no diplomatic effort has been spared to end the nuclear standoff peacefully. Finally, it's bombs away! God, I hope I'm wrong.

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