February 28, 2003

KRAUTHAMMER IS RIGHT:

France is not doing this to contain Iraq — France spent the entire 1990s weakening sanctions and eviscerating the inspections regime as a way to end the containment of Iraq. France is doing this to contain the United States. As I wrote last week, France sees the opportunity to position itself as the leader of a bloc of former great powers challenging American supremacy.

That is a serious challenge. It requires a serious response. We need to demonstrate that there is a price to be paid for undermining the United States on a matter of supreme national interest.

First, as soon as the dust settles in Iraq, we should push for an expansion of the Security Council — with India and Japan as new permanent members — to dilute France’s disproportionate and anachronistic influence.

Second, there should be no role for France in Iraq, either during the war, should France change its mind, or after it. No peacekeeping. No oil contracts. And France should be last in line for loan repayment, after Russia. Russia, after all, simply has opposed our policy. It did not try to mobilize the world against us.

It should be expensive to cross the United States on an important matter. And this is an important matter.