Friday, September 05, 2003
Given the difficulties we are having in Iraq, the French are finding it hard to suppress their glee. Of course, a lot of this schadenfreude comes from the fact that the French are believing all too much of what they read in the Continental papers. The French government was against our invasion of Iraq because they had a comfortable and profitable relationship with Saddam's regime. Indeed, France's largest oil concern, TOTAL FINA/Elf, had signed a fat contract with the regime. My suspicion is that there was more than enough kickback money to go around and line the pockets of Continental leaders. I believe that the Iraqis had bought any number of European influence peddlers and decisionmakers.
However, the French may be feeling a bit left out in the cold, and very soon. It appears that Vladimir Putin has decided to let bygones be bygones and has voiced support for the American effort to put together a UN force for Iraq. I don't believe that the French will want to be seen as the turd in the punchbowl. Whatever hope they have of retaining their influence in that country will wane as the Russians, and Russian oil barons, step into the vacuum created by Chirac's obtuseness. Indeed, look for the French to find a way to sign on within the next week or two.
This all begs the question of why we need the U.N. in the first place. The reasoning is rather simple. We had been negotiating for a big Indian presence in the country. It was seen as necessary to get a Bandung Conference country to add some heft to the occupation. Indeed, the Americans wanted to get the Pakistanis involved, as well. How and ever, both nations need the fig leaf of a Security Council Resolution to provide the patina of legitimacy to an American operation. The fact that the Russians appear ready to deal should accelerate the process, however.
But there is an even more compelling reason. Successful as our occupation has been, there is a greater need to free up American troops for hunter group activity. Americans are stretched thin on the ground in Iraq. They move about in convoy, and a convoy is RPG bait. The Americans want to give the safe areas to the Indians, the Pakistanis, and the Turks so they can concentrate on flooding the zone in the Sunni heartland.
Is this a change in strategy? Sure. But it is the nimble quarterback who can audible during a drive.
What matters is whether the game is won; no one will remember if you called a halfback option or a post pattern.