By Dick Morris
February 18, 2003
The objection of France and Germany to acting on the obvious necessity of disarming and dismantling Saddam Hussein's regime is not the first breath of a new age of peace but the last hurrah for outdated ex-colonial powers seeking to throw around a weight they don't have.
It is quite like the Suez War of 1956 when Britain and France felt they could go it alone and, without even informing the United States until the last minute, launched a pre-emptive attack, allied with Israel, against Egypt. Their goal was to re-conquer the Suez Canal which the Egyptian dictator Nasser had seized.
While initially successful militarily, the two European powers soon found themselves isolated on the global stage as President Eisenhower, outraged, threw his lot in with the Soviet Union in demanding a cease fire and a pullback. The lesson, never lost on Britain but apparently lost on France, was that neither nation had the clout to go-it-alone anymore without American backing.
The legacy of France's and Germany's last stand against United States' Iraq policy will be decades of impotence, just like Paris and London experienced after Suez.
The U.S. will invade Iraq in a matter of weeks and will win quickly. The diplomatic maneuvers of Chirac and Schroeder will be revealed as the bankrupt and powerless posturing of two has-been nations. The world will see how little they count and how minor the United Nations really is in the scheme of things. France's veto and Germany's voice will be consigned to the irrelevancies of history. Nobody will ever take them seriously again.
But that's the minor point. The major point is that there will no longer be an organization within which they can or will be taken seriously. The United Nations will not, in the future, be the relevant forum within which to make decisions about international action. Just as nobody would think of asking the U.N. General Assembly what it thinks because it is dominated by nations with no power and less legitimacy, so noone will ask the Security Council for its opinion either because it can be impeded by the veto of powerless powers. Nor will NATO, by the time the French and Germans get through with it, be the mechanism to use for joint action.
All of these prerogatives will be pre-empted, de facto, by the internal decision making entities of the United States and, because of her courage in doing what is right, Britain. If Paris or Berlin want a say, it will have to be at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, not in Brussels or in the U.N.
Morally, the French and German positions - and the denunciations of U.S. policy by our domestic peace demonstrators -- will be undermined and undone by the reality of what Saddam Hussein is doing behind closed doors. Oddly, the French and German governments, the U.S. Democratic Party and the American left have now all become the hostage to the question of whether Saddam is a man of good will. If he is found, posthumously, to have been wrongly accused and we find none of the horror stories about weapons of mass destruction were true, they will triumph. But if our troops find the labs, bio-bomb factories, chemical weapon stockpiles, and nuclear research programs Secretary of State Powell says are there, the voices of France, Germany, and the American left will be stilled for a long, long time to come.
Why are the French and the Germans walking into this trap?
For the same reason Britain
and France did in Suez. Ego and an inability to perceive how
the world had changed. Just as in 1956 London and Paris did not
grasp that global politics had become bi-polar, Paris and Berlin
do not now grasp that it is uni-polar. In both cases, the powers
of the ancient regime reflexively acted on past assumptions before
their irrelevancy was brutally brought home to them. As it will