April 26, 2005

MEMORANDUM TO: OPINION LEADERS

FROM: GARY SCHMITT

SUBJECT: April in Paris?

We wish. In reality, the chilly disregard the French government continues to show for U.S. interests continues apace. Three recent examples:

  • During last week's visit to China, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin reiterated Paris' intent to see the EU lift its arms embargo against China. More remarkably, he also stated that his government had no objections to China's recent decision to pass its anti-secession law - a law that sanctions the use of military force against democratic Taiwan.

  • Also last week, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier rejected Secretary of State Rice's suggestion at a NATO ministerial meeting that NATO should be ready to help with logistics and planning in Darfur if asked to do so. He then went on to block a second important U.S.-backed initiative: to begin using the transatlantic alliance as a forum for debate on wider strategic issues. All of this comes on the heels of French efforts within NATO itself to frustrate needed increases in funding for alliance operations and staffing.

  • And finally, in mid-April, at a meeting of the foreign ministers of the European Union members, France's Michel Barnier led the opposition to a proposal to send an EU border-monitoring mission to Georgia. This follows Moscow's veto this past winter of continuing the OSCE border-monitoring operation in Georgia, an operation that had kept Russian military threats along Georgia's border in check.

Over the past month, Chirac's government has made it clear that: one, it sees appeasing both China and Russia - the major non-democratic powers in the world - as in its strategic interest, and two, it will not support the Bush administration's efforts to revive, as Secretary Rice said of NATO, "the premier forum" for transatlantic dialogue. France is providing military help in Afghanistan and in the war on terror and, for that, Americans should be thankful. Nevertheless, on the broader strategic front, Paris continues its efforts to push the U.S. out of Europe and use other powers as a way to check American global leadership.