I know that I may seem to be (according to some of you) overemphasizing the European question in my notes. I think I am not. I think that the French Gambit is serious, has less to do with Iraq than it seems at first sight, and has more to do with French ambition in Europe, misperception of reality, and (as George Will calls it) moral infantilism and monomania--anti-Americanism. A news story in Sunday’s New York Times, as well as an op-ed by Niall Ferguson, confirms the seriousness of the French ambition and what is at stake. This has had a great deal to do with the semi-suicide that Europe attempted in the twentieth century. And this explains why my grandfather, my father’s father, said to me when I went back to Hungary to visit him for the first time in 1968: "Don’t come back here again. Go back to America, far away from this place. It is hopeless." He was talking about Europe as a whole, not just Hungary.
While this British writer puts a more Anglo-European spin on the issue, he admits that Chirac has made a "strategic choice" that will have massive consequences. This French writer essentially agrees. And it is unlikely that the old Europe will come out on top, says the Editor of The Jerusalem Post (also note Chirac’s peccadilloes, amusing).
See this UPI article and then this one for a good history of the problem from an economic point of view; how France and Germany went from robust economies of the mid-1960’s to very restricted economic growth by the 1990’s. And there is no plan to get out of it; only an attempt to waylay the impending disaster. While I understand that the most immediate question is how France will vote when we present a new resolution on Iraq to the Security Council, these larger concerns are the matters driving things and they will have long term consequences, lasting well after the time Iraq has been rebuilt and the political landscape of the Middle East has been changed. Besides, I still think that France has played its last card and will go along with us on another Security Council resolution. They cant afford complete isolation.