Wednesday, April 02, 2003
1 in 3 Frenchmen hope for Iraqi victory.
I wonder if Ladbroke is making a market yet on civil war in France? I'm kind of serious here. There is a sizeable Muslim minority in France that is radically alienated from French institutions, geographically concentrated and surprisingly well-armed. There's also a sizeable minority of non-Muslim French who hate their civilization and would not defend it - the anti-globalization radicals. And, in the last Presidential election, one in five voters was willing to vote for a candidate of the radical right. Sounds to me like 40% of the country would willingly bring an end to the Fifth Republic, with one faction aiming to establish a radical left-wing regime frankly aiming to lead the Arab world and what is left of the EU against the United States and Britain, and with the other aiming to withdraw France from the world, expel a part of its Muslim population, and reassert a Catholic and ethnic-nationalist identity for the country.
Chirac is trying to ride the tiger. He opposes the U.S. enough to be a credible leader of the "non-aligned" world and tolerates anti-Semitic hooliganism to satisfy the mob. His goal is to keep the current establishment in power and leverage France's divisions into an advantage, positioning France as the "bridge" between East and West. He then hopes to spend the political capital earned by "standing up for France" on necessary economic and social changes (deregulation, more aggressive policing, etc.) and on consolidating France's position as leader of whatever remains of "Europe." But the tiger is going to get harder and harder to ride. Chirac's anti-American stance will raise expectations among the radicals that he has no hope of satisfying. And what happens then?
Wasn't it Louis XVI who said, "apres moi, le deluge"?