Hot off Drudge comes this UPI story:

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 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.”

Sure, the warbloggers and many real-world commentators have been saying this for months, some for years. But this is Richard Perle speaking, who holds quite some sway in Washington as chairman of the Pentagon’s civilian Defense Policy Board. His statement could end up influencing White House (and, yes, even State Department) policy for the length of this Administration — if not longer.

Now don’t go off the deep end and think we’ll be forward-deploying forces to the Italian Alps, or loading up a MEU at Dover for another cross-Channel assault.

What Perle seems to mean by containing “our erstwhile ally” is diplomacy, not threats. The (accidental?) Bush SOTU/Wall Street Journal maneuver last week looks now like a preview of more things to come.

The Gang of Eight was a start. Tomorrow’s Powell presentation to the UN will be another step. We already boxed France into a corner, and they can expect, I think, many more attempts just like it.

Anyone know the French for “howling”? Because we’re going to be hearing a lot of it.