France has participated in naval drills with China off the port of Qingdao, a few days before the elections in Taiwan. This was China’s biggest ever joint military exercises with a foreign power. If you are convinced that the Spanish turn toward Old Europe is done a deal, you might want to see this few paragraphs from Eurosoc. The French-German rivalry is real, and the U.S. is continuing to conduct smart diplomacy as far as I can tell. By forgiving the German slight over Iraq, we have shifted the ground under French feet, and the Germans are once again talking about the importance of the trans-Atlantic relationship. Spain will not simply do the bidding of the French; it can’t afford to. Besides, the New European countries don’t want to be pushed around by the Old, their memories are too good. Note these two good paragraphs from Innocentsabroad:
"As a final point, a point which refutes the claims that the Americans are not particularly deft when it comes to diplomacy, especially the current administration, I would suggest that, judging by how the Bush administration handled the various European players in the build-up to Iraq and since the war, those making the decisions in the US government understand something of how Europe’s nations work. The administration touted Anglo-American commonality, befriended smaller European nations, quickly forgave grievances with the Germans and have allowed antagonisms with the French to simmer. In other words, the American administration has focused its hostility on the French as much as possible."
"I remember reading somewhere that during discussions prior to the Iraq invasion, Dominique de Villepin made the comment that the problem with the Americans is that they don’t read Machiavelli. The force of this statement was that the Americans failed to understand that much of what the French were doing was pure grandstanding in order to improve their international leverage. I think the Americans may very well have understood this. De Villepin seems to think that the core of Machiavelli is simple deception shrouded in the appearance of morality. If that’s the case, then I would suggest that the problem with the French is that they don’t read Machiavelli carefully. There is a moral message in Machiavelli, and it has to do with the morality of acquiring, something the French seem almost habitually unable to comprehend: a Machiavellian joke at France’s expense."
Did I already mention that the French are establishing closer ties with China? Yes, I guess I have. These French, they are so clever. No wonder they didn’t like Washington’s "Farewell Address" when it was delivered in 1796 wherein Washington argued against all "permanent alliances or enmities." (The French Amabassador called it "Machiavellian.") Washington understood the connection between morality and national interest, between rights, right, and consent. He understood why under this new, utterly unMachiavellian, regime he had to give up power: his great virtues gave him no special rights, and gave the country no special rights but to persuade the world of the right of self-government. The French have never understood this. You might want to study some of William B. Allen’s reflections on such matters, here, and here.