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Mark Steyn: It's not really about Saddam
National Post (Canada) ^ | 02/14/03 | Mark Steyn

Posted on 02/14/2003 3:30:04 AM PST by Pokey78

Saddam is what Alfred Hitchcock called the MacGuffin. Like the top-secret formula in The 39 Steps or the uranium in Notorious, he's the pretext for the movie, but he's not really what the movie's about. Despite the best efforts of the French and Germans, the old butcher will be gone in a few weeks. The real debate in Washington is about the speed and scale of post-Saddam Middle Eastern reform: There are legitimate differences about that but the "post-Saddam" bit of it is taken for granted. As noted in this space many months ago, he's being taken out first because he's the weak link in the chain of Arab despots. All the other stuff -- the chemical weapons, the ties to Islamist terrorism, the material breaches -- is true but ancillary.

Likewise, for M. Chirac, Herr Schroeder and their little Belgian chum, it's not really about Saddam, either. To be sure, they would like him to remain President-for-Life and their joke "plan" to send in blue-helmeted UN troops was designed to achieve just that. This isn't because, as some have argued, they're worried that when the Yanks open up the filing cabinets they're going to find a lot of invoices from France and Germany. As must surely be clear after these last two weeks, Messrs. Chirac and Schroeder don't embarrass easily. The wily Continentals will shrug off whatever turns up in Saddam's basement: It's just business, nothing personal, c'mon, we're all men of the world here, right?

No, for them what this movie is about is much closer to home. To the dozy "experts" on this side of the Atlantic, the notion of a "split" between America and "Europe" is so appealing they don't seem to care that the only real split is between Chirac, Schroeder and Belgium's Manekin Pis, on the one hand, and everybody else. America has never been isolated. Oh, sure, concede the cynics, Bush's Anglosphere poodles in Britain and Australia are snuffling his gusset, but no one else. Well, there's those seven Continental countries that signed that letter to The Wall Street Journal. Hah! scoffed Robert Scheer of The Los Angeles Times, nothing but a bunch of nations "you can buy on eBay." Really? Italy? Spain? Next, the Vilnius Group got on board: That's pretty much every country in the Baltic and Eastern Europe. "Everyone's feeling better. Albania signed on," sneered Mark Shields on CNN.

Oh, dear, oh, dear. Are there no foreigners good enough for Shields, Scheer and the other "multilateralists"? Brits, Aussies, Italians, Poles, Lithuanians: none of 'em count. During the Great War, Irving Berlin wrote a song about a proud mother watching her son march in the parade: They Were All Out Of Step But Jim. In this war, according to the picky multilateralists, they're all out of step but Jacques. Well, President Chirac can do the math: On the Continent of Europe, the majority of nations support the Anglo-American position; Belgium supports the Franco-German position, and the rapid crumbling of support for the Schroeder government at home suggests, if he's not careful, that the axis of weasels is going to be down to Paris and Brussels, Monsieur Evil et Mini-Moi. Chirac is playing a high-stakes game -- Schroeder is merely the dumb moll who's along for the ride and way out of her league -- and it's important to understand that the swaggering Texan gunslinger is a mere proxy for his real target: Tony Blair.

To the French, something very astonishing has happened: "Europe" was supposed to be France writ large, a "union" built in France's image. To that end, they took it for granted that the entire Continent would inevitably come to be as semi-detached from NATO as the French have been since 1966. To M. Chirac, Tony Blair is the odd man out, with his strange Anglo-Saxon hang-ups about the transatlantic alliance. But, as has become obvious, to the Czechs, Poles, Bulgars, Romanians and everybody else, it's Chirac who's the misfit.

What to do about this appalling lèse-majesté?

Answer: Get rid of Blair.

Sounds crazy? Not necessarily. Look what happened a month before the last Gulf War. Mrs. Thatcher: riding high in October, shot down in November. She went to a big EU get-together, fired off a couple of rhetorical volleys that the Eurodefeatists in her own party found a little too vulgar, and next thing you know she was being carried out by the handles. The fact that she was George Bush's buddy availed her naught. Arguably, this changed the course of the war: It was Maggie who'd stiffened Bush's spine after the seizure of Kuwait in August 1990, famously telling him "this is no time to go wobbly"; I think it's safe to assume that she would have advised the President that calling it quits before Baghdad and leaving the thug on his throne was wobbliness of the worst kind, and she may well have carried the day. But by that time she'd been gone three months and the talk was all of "no-fly zones" and "UN-designated safe havens."

So look at it from M. Chirac's point of view: Why shouldn't that happen again? Blair's line on Iraq is unpopular with his own parliamentary party and its supporters throughout the country. Why not put the skids under him? Who knows what could happen in three or four weeks? After all, in some ways, Blair is more dangerous than Thatcher: the latter saw herself as an Atlanticist rather than a European; Blair sees himself as both -- which, to the likes of Chirac, is a contradiction in terms. But that's evidently not how Mitteleuropa and beyond views it. Let Blair emerge from an Anglo-American war on Iraq with his worldview resoundingly confirmed, and it's possible that Europe will develop in ways that are not in France's interest.

The EU is far more important to Chirac than NATO is. The EU is a French creation, NATO an American one. So the French decision to block Turkey's request for mutual aid is entirely consistent with its long-term priorities: It has no objection to NATO as a moribund talking-shop, but it has zero interest in supporting it as a functioning mutual defence pact dominated by the Anglo-Americans. For Turkey, on the other hand, NATO membership is an indispensable component of its national identity -- as a modern, secular, western Muslim nation. To flip the finger at Turkey is to risk doing grave damage not just to NATO but to one of the few functioning Islamic states. I think it's very difficult, after the Franco-German-Belgian mischief-making, to carry on dignifying them even nominally as "allies."

The German government is currently in the hands of some pretty grubby characters, the generation whose views on America and terrorism were formed in the student riots of 1968. Belgium is not a serious country: Its last performance on the world stage was the weekend before September 11th, when, in its capacity as President of the European Union, it was at Durban grovelling to Mugabe and Co. for the evils of western civilization. Is it worth maintaining the pretense that the Anglo-Americans and these fellows share common goals? My distinguished colleague John O'Sullivan gets very impatient with the surrender-monkey cracks and thinks the Continentals are still worth the effort. I seem to be making a lot of movie comparisons today, so here's one more: The O'Sullivanite tendency sees this as The Road To Baghdad with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby as America and Europe: they snipe and squabble and scheme and pick each other's pockets and fight over the girl, but in the end they're there for each other. I don't think so. The French have an interest in a Europe that's a counterweight to America, but none at all in a Europe that's as pro-American as Blair and the Vilnius Group are. For them, that's what the picture's about -- and Saddam and Turkey and NATO are just MacGuffins.

For the rest of us, what's at stake since September 11th, since that Durban conference even, is the survival of "the West" -- an elastic term that has traditionally stretched from trigger-happy Texas to statist Sweden. If M. Chirac's vision of Europe prevails, we can pretty much guarantee, from his performance this last month, how the UN, NATO, the ICC, and all the rest will develop. Therefore, it is necessary that he emerge from the ruins of Saddam's presidential palace as dazed and diminished as possible. That's not the main reason for going to war, but it's now an important sub-plot.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Germany; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: bubyesaddam; bushdoctrineunfold; marksteynlist; surrendermonkey
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1 posted on 02/14/2003 3:30:04 AM PST by Pokey78
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To: Howlin; riley1992; Miss Marple; deport; Dane; sinkspur; steve; kattracks; JohnHuang2; ...

2 posted on 02/14/2003 3:31:41 AM PST by Pokey78
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To: Pokey78
Mark Steyn bump! Let's tell the French to go where they can jolly bugger off.
3 posted on 02/14/2003 3:34:46 AM PST by goldstategop
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btttttttttttttttttttttttt
4 posted on 02/14/2003 3:37:57 AM PST by dennisw ( http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/weblog.php)
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To: Pokey78
As always, it looks as if Steyn has nailed it.
5 posted on 02/14/2003 3:42:18 AM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Pokey78
If only all political pundits had Mark Steyn's clarity of vision and dizzying fluency! How can it be that this invaluable voice hasn't yet been syndicated all over America?

Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
Visit The Palace Of Reason:
http://palaceofreason.com

6 posted on 02/14/2003 3:48:15 AM PST by fporretto (Curmudgeon Emeritus, Palace of Reason)
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To: scholar; Bullish; linear
Ping
7 posted on 02/14/2003 3:51:11 AM PST by knighthawk
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To: fporretto
I don't know, but thank the Lord that Al Gore invented the internet so we all can read Steyn's columns. ;-D
8 posted on 02/14/2003 3:51:29 AM PST by Pokey78
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To: fporretto
Steyn's analysis of French motives (EU yes, NATO no) and of Blair's vulnerability is powerful.

Chirac's trick is to keep Labor in and replace Blair.
If the Tory's come in he'll be worse off.
9 posted on 02/14/2003 3:52:30 AM PST by edwin hubble
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To: Pokey78
A loud standing ovation out here in Oregon !!! ... Bravo Mark Steyn ! .... Bravo !

Mr. Steyn really gets it!

10 posted on 02/14/2003 3:57:48 AM PST by ex-Texan (primates capitulards toujours en quete de fromage!)
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To: Ichneumon
As always, M.S. is a great read with analysis that's not found elsewhere. He doesn't simply rework and parrot the convential wisdom.

I think he's spot on regards Chirac and Blair. Blair has major exposure from the far left in Labour and they'd like nothing better than to push him off the train.

That's why I believe we (US) will make an effort at securing some sort of additional (18th) resolution regards Iraq over the next couple of weeks. It's to give Blair domestic cover.

Question is: How firm (or squishy) will Chirac be? Will he use the veto to scupper Tony and the U.N.?
11 posted on 02/14/2003 3:58:23 AM PST by G L Tirebiter
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To: Pokey78
IMHO this is one of Steyn's most serious pieces, and most informative. Hat off to him...
12 posted on 02/14/2003 4:15:31 AM PST by chilepepper
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To: Pokey78


French PM: "It's Great to Be Collaborating with Germany Again!"



13 posted on 02/14/2003 4:17:21 AM PST by MeekOneGOP (Bu-bye SADdam. You're soon to meet your buddy Stalin in Hades.)
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To: G L Tirebiter
I cannot believe I am defending Blair, but he has been stalwart throughout this whole ordeal, when it would have been remarkably easy for him personally to simply play politics.

I think he is wrong on many issues, but I give him credit for having his eyes open to the threats facing the world and the courage to act in a manner which will cause him political harm but just may save his nation's future.

14 posted on 02/14/2003 4:19:52 AM PST by William McKinley (You're so vain, you probably think this tagline's about you)
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To: Pokey78
...thank the Lord that Al Gore invented the internet so we all can read Steyn's columns. ;-D

LOL !



Check out Al Gore's REVIEW of Cast Away.
15 posted on 02/14/2003 4:27:05 AM PST by MeekOneGOP (Bu-bye SADdam. You're soon to meet your buddy Stalin in Hades.)
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To: William McKinley
I agree with you about Blair. He always reminded me of Clinton without the libido. Lady Thatcher he ain't.

That said - he's played an invaluable role in marshalling the non-Axis of Weasel Euros to our side.

And I beleive he'll stick with us even if it emperils his position at the head of his party.
16 posted on 02/14/2003 4:30:09 AM PST by G L Tirebiter
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To: Pokey78
Mark,

This was an awesome display of mental ability. My hat is off to you for this amazing linkage. I have never thought that it could be this intricate, however, you have cleared my brain to accept such intrigue. Thank you for this eye opening article.
17 posted on 02/14/2003 4:49:27 AM PST by Core_Conservative (Prayer for those who Serve our Country - I also pray for our President for the Wisdom of Solomon)
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To: Pokey78
Oh, come on. I know I'm showing my ignorance here, but does Belgium REALLY have a leader called Manekin Pis?
18 posted on 02/14/2003 5:07:38 AM PST by I still care
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To: Pokey78
I am just as incensed by subsidized heating oil, Amtrack, and other boondoggles as I am by agricultural subsidies. I don't approve of any of them. And as for the hard-working farm families of the Klamath Basin, I feel sorry for them and wish them well. I work with hard-working farm families out here on the other side of the continent. My point is that the government induced their ancestors to settle this land by making a promise to them that it cannot fulfil. The climatic history of the interior west is capricious. Rainfall regimes for Western basins during the Holocene (last 13,000 years or so) have oscillated between "Xeric" (Mediterranean-like, with some rain during the winter) or "Ustic" (enough rainfall for small-grain or grass agriculture, but with dry spells during the growing season), on the one hand, and "Aridic" (desert) on the other. These aridic spells can last for 50 years or more, which dries up the whole watershed. It is quite possible that the current 3-year drought which has hit the interior west might last for a couple of generations. At some point, an extended drought will make watershed-irrigated agriculture in the West impossible, and many people will be displaced.
19 posted on 02/14/2003 5:14:21 AM PST by Renfield (13)
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To: Pokey78; MadIvan
Fantastic!

In unrelated news, a FreeRepublic member named MadIvan was seen dashing into the Channel at Dover. Crawling through icy seas, he appears to be headed toward Calais at a record-setting pace.

Mr. Ivan was said to be holding a SAS standard issue combat knife clamped between his teeth. A taxidermists' manual and a tourist guide to the presidential Elysée Palace in Paris were reported missing from his local library branch.
20 posted on 02/14/2003 5:16:27 AM PST by tictoc (How I wish I had kept my old MAD magazine issues)
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To: Pokey78
<< ..... the only real split is between Chirac, Schroeder and Belgium's Manekin Pis, on the one hand, and everybody else. America has never been isolated. >>

The only "isolation" America has ever practiced -- as defined and/or noted by the world's liberals -- has been to occasionally adhere to Constitutional restraints upon the uses of Our Nation's Blood and Treasure -- and to, rarely, act in the interests of individual Americans without first pretending to need EURO-peon counsel.

The old EURO-peons, spoilt by eight years of the craven prostrations of dead and decadent EURO-peonist KKKli'tonista co-serial-rapists and other gargoyles [Can't you just picture them; Shilala, Hitlery, Herr Reich, (The Fourth?) Hubbell and his daughter, et al -- and state's mouth-frothing Rubin and grotesque Notat Allbright all lined up waiting for a Monacaesque slobber at Manekin Pis] -- consider anything even slightly less amoral than that squalid parade to fit their new definition of "American isolationism."

&*&^%$#@ them!!
21 posted on 02/14/2003 5:21:29 AM PST by Brian Allen (This above all -- to thine own self be true)
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To: Pokey78
Like Rush Limbaugh, Steyn validates my beliefs. Love him.
22 posted on 02/14/2003 5:25:30 AM PST by moneyrunner
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To: Pokey78
Is there a Steyn ping list? Is so, I'd love ot be added. :)
BUMP!
23 posted on 02/14/2003 5:27:30 AM PST by BunnySlippers
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To: I still care

This little guy is in charge of the whole country.

24 posted on 02/14/2003 5:31:30 AM PST by RobFromGa (It's Time to Bomb Saddam! (any day now))
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To: I still care
Manekin Pis is a statue of a peeing boy in Brussels. It's a famous tourist attraction. Here's a link to a photo:

http://www.worldisround.com/articles/12611/photo5.html
25 posted on 02/14/2003 5:40:03 AM PST by Renfield (13)
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To: MeeknMing
Classic!!!

Post of the month. JimRob Rack'em !

26 posted on 02/14/2003 5:53:52 AM PST by philo
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To: Pokey78
The rift is easily explained. Iraq is a SOCIALIST country, led by the Arab Baathist Socialist Party. This socialism was imported from Michel Aflaq and France, who assisted Saddam in using his Leninst tactics to achieve power.

France and Germany are also trending socialist, and so this is not about anything but the old Cold War rift...capitalism v. socialism.

The danger of Saddam is that he is the Lynchpin which unites the Socialists (France, Germany, Russia, China, North Korea) with the Islamofascists (Al Queda, Wahhabists). THAT is why he must be taken down and the link between the nuclear armed socialists and arabs be severed.

27 posted on 02/14/2003 5:55:59 AM PST by ez (WHERE'S THE OVERNIGHT POLLING ON THE ESTRADA FILIBUSTER???)
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To: I still care

Guy Verhofstadt Prime Minister of Belgium

28 posted on 02/14/2003 6:06:31 AM PST by Robert DeLong
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To: BunnySlippers
You have been added.
29 posted on 02/14/2003 6:13:26 AM PST by Pokey78
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To: Pokey78
Thanks, Pokey.

Steyn does again....and again and again......
30 posted on 02/14/2003 6:23:16 AM PST by conservativemusician
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To: I still care
Manekin Pis is a famous staue of a little boy urinating into the accompanying fountain. Located in beautiful downtown Brussels
31 posted on 02/14/2003 6:25:32 AM PST by Rummyfan
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To: Robert DeLong

There is an uncanny resemblance.

32 posted on 02/14/2003 6:31:24 AM PST by TomB
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To: Pokey78
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. It's not France being different "just to be different". It's France being "different" to wreck the Atlantic alliance, sever European ties to America, and remake the Continent in its image. It's the one explanation that fits the evidence best.

I love Steyn, but that may be his best piece of analysis yet.

33 posted on 02/14/2003 6:32:12 AM PST by XJarhead
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To: Pokey78
but thank the Lord that Al Gore invented the internet so we all can read Steyn's columns

LOL - good one!

34 posted on 02/14/2003 6:34:09 AM PST by shattered
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To: Pokey78
Ahhh, Steyn. Bump...
35 posted on 02/14/2003 6:48:27 AM PST by eureka! (The Lamestream Presstitutes are not an honest bunch, are they?)
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To: Pokey78
We're not worthy!

We're not worthy!

36 posted on 02/14/2003 6:59:55 AM PST by Remole
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To: Pokey78
...Monsieur Evil et Mini-Moi.


37 posted on 02/14/2003 7:07:23 AM PST by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: Pokey78
Steyn is more than merely brilliant in his writing; he is uncannily perceptive in his analysis!
38 posted on 02/14/2003 7:10:06 AM PST by Gritty
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To: Pokey78
What a strange world we live in, when Labour's Tony Blair is more conservative than Jacques Chirac, the leader of a French party that crushed the socialists in their recent election.

I guess that proves that Iraq isn't a conservative/liberal issue, despite how it's playing out in the country.

39 posted on 02/14/2003 7:17:18 AM PST by Dog Gone
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To: Pokey78
bttt
40 posted on 02/14/2003 7:29:20 AM PST by Tares
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To: Gritty
Yes, you can count on MS to finally get it right. Iraq and the WOT is all a distraction from the real game, which is what the post-WOT world is going to look like. The French/EU are going to end up being on the wrong side of history. It's pretty clear now that they are no longer an ally, An adversary, no, but a rival, yes.
41 posted on 02/14/2003 7:29:50 AM PST by Snerfling
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To: Pokey78
Please add me to your Steyn list as well. Thanks in advance.
42 posted on 02/14/2003 7:36:55 AM PST by pgyanke (Just die so we can finally have peace! - Paraphrased from UBL)
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To: Pokey78
Thanks for the ping.

Steyn's article makes perfect sense to me. He's been on to Chrirac for a while. Now he neatly ties together the scheming of Schroeder, Verhofstadt and Chirac. Brilliant analysis.

I too, hope that Blair can hang on. He may be a social liberal, but at least he's not afraid to face a real danger head on, and damn the consequences. (Unlike that despicable coward, the impeached X42). That's my definition of a leader.
43 posted on 02/14/2003 7:38:11 AM PST by baseballmom
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To: XJarhead
"Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. It's not France being different "just to be different". It's France being "different" to wreck the Atlantic alliance, sever European ties to America, and remake the Continent in its image. It's the one explanation that fits the evidence best."

Which is the missing link in my failure to understand the EU - and how the French could EVER agree to the dissolution of their beloved French Franc currency in favor of the Euro. I NEVER could understand the French ceding their Franc nor the Germans their Deutschmark.

But after reading Steyn, it NOW all makes sense. The French, after years of impotency, founded the EU and the Euro-as-Viagra to attempt to once again be a factor on the world stage.

Michael

44 posted on 02/14/2003 7:44:38 AM PST by Wright is right!
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To: ez
The rift is easily explained. Iraq is a SOCIALIST country, led by the Arab Baathist Socialist Party. This socialism was imported from Michel Aflaq and France, who assisted Saddam in using his Leninst tactics to achieve power.

I don't think France & Germany care a bit about the form the Iraqi goverment. As Steyn says in his article: this isn't about Iraq or Saddam.

45 posted on 02/14/2003 7:50:01 AM PST by Tallguy
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To: Pokey78
It sounds like Chirac's best move right now would be to get in touch with Labor party dissidents and try to take down Blair from underneath.
46 posted on 02/14/2003 8:08:15 AM PST by xm177e2 (smile) :-)
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To: ez
Ba'athists are not really socialists. If anything, they are more like Hitler's "National Socialism," and France and Germany have no love for that.
47 posted on 02/14/2003 8:09:10 AM PST by xm177e2 (smile) :-)
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To: xm177e2
Ba'athists are not really socialists. If anything, they are more like Hitler's "National Socialism," and France and Germany have no love for that.

France & Germany HAVE BEEN more in tune with the international Socialist movement, but France has always had a National Socialist movement just below the surface (think Le Pen). The Germans lack such an internal struggle because of their post-WW2 laws that prevent the political organization of the rightwing variety. BUT now that Frenchman & Germans are beginning to think of themselves as EUROPEANS first, they can resume being National Socialist.

Changing the national affiliation apparently makes it OK.

48 posted on 02/14/2003 8:16:58 AM PST by Tallguy
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To: Pokey78
To flip the finger at Turkey is to risk doing grave damage not just to NATO but to one of the few functioning Islamic states.

I'd like to flip the finger to France and Germany. On the floor of the UN. During primetime.

BTW, I am not sure that Turkey can be classified as an "Islamic state" ala Iran or Saudi Arabia. Others can speak to this, but I do not think that the religion of Islam is mated to the state in Turkey as it is in those other places.

49 posted on 02/14/2003 8:22:08 AM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: Pokey78
Steyn is brilliant. I really hope Chirac and the British lefties don't get Blair, although in the long run it could help the Tories by splitting Labour and taking it left again.
50 posted on 02/14/2003 9:21:08 AM PST by colorado tanker ("Hi, my name is Hans and I'm here to inspect you" (oveheard pick up line))
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