April 16, 2004

Three Corner Wars and the French

Steven Den Beste is currently ending his rant against Bruce Rolston with the following question "Are we not permitted to consider other French actions, and Australian actions, before concluding that the Australians are steadfast friends and the French are enemies in all but name?"

I think SDB is losing the threads of his own argument here. He and I (and I'm guessing Bruce too) agree that we're in a three corner war. Three corner wars are pretty ugly affairs and often will have shifting alliances. This is not perfidy, merely rational behavior, trying not to end up on a losing side. The best strategy that I can imagine in such a conflict for the stronger party (which I believe is the US side) is to create an alliance with the lesser opponent against the greater one and then win it all in the end.

For both the Islamists and the empiricist US, the EU is the lesser opponent. The EU's logical position is to play both sides against each other for their own maximum benefit so that each side, exhausted, becomes weaker than the EU. This behavior does not make them perfidious, or an enemy (whether full out or in all but name).

A very bad move would be to push the French further into the Islamist corner. They won't go too far, but they can certainly go around to the back door and negotiate a separate peace with Bin Laden. We're all little fish on the grand scale of international influence but SDB is a bit bigger than the usual blogger. He should have chosen his words better.

The truth is that the United States of America holds a plurality of military, economic, and geopolitical power in the world. The natural reaction of everybody else has always been to form a grand alliance to reestablish the balance in the Great Power game. The US, if it is to avoid that historically common fate, has to avoid giving unnecessary offense.

The French have been our allies. They can be our allies once again. What they are now is confusing to us and they should clarify where they stand. If we leave a door open for them, we improve our own position. We should follow our national interest in this, not an emotionally satisfying but counterproductive labeling exercise.

Posted by TMLutas at April 16, 2004 10:08 PM