Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Has Richard Perle really said that France should now be considered hostile by the United States?

France is no longer an ally of the United States and the NATO alliance "must develop a strategy to contain our erstwhile ally or we will not be talking about a NATO alliance" the head of the Pentagon's top advisory board said in Washington Tuesday.

Richard Perle, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and now chairman of the Pentagon's Policy Advisory Board, condemned French and German policy on Iraq in the strongest terms at a public seminar organized by a New York-based PR firm and attended by Iraqi exiles and American Middle East and security officials.

But while dismissing Germany's refusal to support military action against Iraq as an aberration by "a discredited chancellor," Perle warned that France's attitude was both more dangerous and more serious.

"France is no longer the ally it once was," Perle said. And he went on to accuse French President Jacques Chirac of believing "deep in his soul that Saddam Hussein is preferable to any likely successor."
"Erstwhile"? He can't be serious. To characterize France's stance against the war in Iraq as an act actually hostile to the United States not only begs dozens of questions, but is disturbing and more than a little frightening in-and-of itself.

Although he is not an official of the Bush administration, Perle's position as the Pentagon's senior civilian adviser gives his harsh remarks a quasi-official character and reflects the growing frustration in the White House and Pentagon with the French and German reluctance to support their U.S. and British allies.
Indeed. It should be stressed that Perle may be a powerful satellite, but doesn't make U.S. policy. This doesn't mean that the U.S. is officially setting itself against France, and I rather hope they won't. Still, if France remains opposed to the war and the rhetoric from the U.S. attempting to discredit the U.N. (a judgement it is patently not objective enough to make) doesn't stick, the anger could turn from the body itself to the members of it.

One wonders how far this will go.

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