You see these occasional speculations as to why France might have opposed a US-led war on Iraq. I personally think the answer is pretty obvious; France does not want the US to have a free hand to do whatever it wants in the world. “Aha,” cries my hypothetical right wing strawman. “So you think France is in the right?” No, I just think it’s a perfectly natural reaction to have when confronted with a hyperpower. It doesn’t mean they’re acting in the best interests of the United States, and it doesn’t mean they’re really allies after all. It just means that I don’t think they’re malevolent, evil, or otherwise deserving of censure.
However, there are plenty of people who simply don’t get that. The train of thought appears to go something like this: the US has noble motivations, and if you sympathize with the desired ends who cares if the US is running the show? Nobody; thus, anyone who objects to US actions must not sympathize with the desired ends.
Yeah, well. I like having a clean living room, but if Cheney broke into my apartment while I was at work and neatened everything up, I’d still be pissed off.
Anyhow, one of the common speculations is that France has a financial motive to oppose the war. This speculation contains within it the implicit assumption that if France participated in the war on Iraq, the US would still screw it out of redevelopment contracts; otherwise, why wouldn’t France just help out? Well, some say, France has been arming Iraq and violating sanctions. William Safire said so.
OK. So the next time someone makes that claim, here’s your takedown.