Friday, March 07, 2003
The CW once had it that France would come along in the end, for fear that not doing so would make irrelevant the UN Security Council, and with it, France itself. Looking back, this line of thinking presumed that France was interested in being taken seriously by the US. Given what is going on in the UN, this view can no longer be taken seriously. As a number of pundits have pointed out, France is looking to be the champion of the 'everybody but the US' club.
This reminds me of school, all those very many years ago. There were always some kids who weren't 'cool', whatever the reason - maybe it was their lack of physical ability, their lack of looks, their unwillingness to put out, their lack of easy access to drugs. And, periodically, some of these kids - it was often the kids others would call nerds, geeks and prudes - would seek to rally each other and start their own group as a counter clique to that of the cool kids. Yet, this attempt always failed, and always for the same reasons: first, this clique didn't really stand for anything other than as a self-appointed counter to the cool clique, which people pretty much realized wasn't a good enough reason for a clique to exist. Most importantly, associating with this group meant acknowledging, and making permanent, your own lack of coolness. Not that everybody was cool, or even had the potential of every attaining coolness. It was simply that most kids harbored dreams of becoming cool, of getting invited to the cool party, and joining this counter group was announcing to the rest of the school that you felt you had no chance of joining the cool clique and that you had given up on those dreams - forever.
As for how this relates to the current dance, France seems to believes that there are some number of countries in the world who want to join this anti-US club and the French are putting themselves up at the head of this club. The flaw in this thinking is that most countries would rather be with the US - its trade, its protection, its culture - than with the French. These countries really don't want to publicly and permanently tag themselves as 'losers' by giving up on those hopes. Even if these countries don't agree totally with the US position on Iraq, they're not going to go and shoot their aspirations in the foot by jumping on what will be the French non-bandwagon.
So, France is out there doing what it can to establish itself as leader of the counter-clique to the US. I'm afraid that they will be unpleasantly surprised by the lack of interest other countries will have in joining. It's all so unnecessary - the French actually were invited (I don't know why, but that's a different matter, altogether) to join the club, but just decided not to. So, the **** with them.