17 November 2004

French Diplomacy

Richard at EU Referendum has a go at Jaques Chirac, for complaining that the invasion of Iraq made the world "more dangerous", but not doing anything to make the world safer, like joining in.

Now there are reasonable arguments that invading Iraq made the world more dangerous, and also reasonable arguments that it made the world safer. Personally I'm in the John Kerry camp: I think it was right. Then again, perhaps it was wrong. Well, maybe it was right. Hmmm, actually I'm not sure.

(Strangely, Kerry's views, despite being so closely aligned with my own, failed to impress me).

But enough dithering, I'm talking about Chirac. The point is that Chirac did try to make the world safer. He tried to stop the invasion. The interesting point is that he thought he could stop it. He really believes in this Diplomacy stuff. I call it "Diplomacy" with a capital D, because to me, diplomacy is just making deals: what do you want, what have you got to offer, what threats can you make. Chirac, and, descending into generalisation, the French, seem to believe in Diplomacy, a force independent of economies and armies, by which France can influence the rest of the world.

Of course, there is one way in which a nation can gain what it wants by negotiation without offering rewards or punishments: it can trick other countries into doing what it wants. If there is such as thing as Diplomacy, it is another word for trickery. One would think that governments would be fairly immune to being deceived into acting against their interests, but then again, the history of the EU would tend to contradict such an assumption.

The irony in this case, of course, is that Chirac not only believed he could prevent the invasion, he also seems to have convinced his friend Saddam Hussein of the same thing. The result of Diplomacy was to give him the confidence to defy George Bush and the U.N., something that even I am sure made the world a more dangerous place.

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