So as I understand it, Socialist France wants to make nice with the US again. According to Reuters, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier is making improved relations with the US a top priority for 2005.
Well isn't that interesting! The recovery in Iraq is still progressing, albeit slowly. Free elections are set for the end of the month. And the investigation for the Oil-For-Food fraud is still going strong.
Now it's not like France NEEDS the US. They're one of the dominant voices in the European Union. The Euro is doing better than the Dollar in the exchange market. They're doing quite well on their own. In fact, if the US should ever collapse - (shut your mouth!) - France is perfectly positioned to be the next superpower... behind Russia and China, that is.
I'll give you three possible reasons why France is suddenly deciding to play nice:
#1: They're tired of the namecalling. France is synonymous with wine, cheese, socialism, and surrender. I suppose after being called a bunch of "surrender-monkeys" and linked to the "Axis of Weasels" for a while it gets rather annoying.
One of my favorite cartoons is "Get Fuzzy" by Darby Conley, and one of the main characters is a wimpy dog, whose owner asks him if he's French because he doesn't like to get confrontational about anything. The dog replies "But the French model seems to show that, ultimately, someone will do my work FOR me." Well that's France.
#2: They want in on Iraq's rebuilding. To the victor goes the spoils, and right now the countries that are getting contracts are the ones that helped us out in getting Saddam. The French made their decision to play antagonist in this matter, thus they were shut out of the contracts.
#3: They want a "Get Out Of Jail Free" Card. Like I said, the Oil-For-Food Fraud case is moving, and France was one of the key countries that profited from Saddam's illegal skimming. They figure if they play nice with the Bush Junior Administration, then their role in this matter will quietly go away.
Either of these reasons will do, and it is probably even a combination of all three. It could also be because France has an incredible influx of Muslims coming in from Alergia and other points, and religious extremism is running pretty high over there. It would probably help them if they had a friend with some clout to be the heavy hitter against the extremists so they won't have to.
My thought is that if Socialist France wants to make-up with the United States, then by all means please do. There are some things about the French that we certainly could pick up on, especially when it comes to secularism and certain social freedoms. But this should be not without conditions. Remember that we don't need France like we did in the 18th and 19th Century. If anything, France needs US!
France needs to come clean about their role in the Oil-For-Food fraud. Name names and list bank accounts. Help us with our case against Saddam. That will go a long way to helping out relations.
It would also help if the French government would stop being the chief antagonist in foreign affairs involving the United States. There's nothing wrong with voicing skepticism or having legitimate questions about a certain course of action. But realize that when you're up against a bunch of neo-cons running around in perpetual WAR mode, the worst place you could be is right in the path their tank treads. If you have objections, rise them and then stand aside and let the US either fail or succeed. Then at least if the US fails, you have the moral high ground to say "We told you so".
Resuming good relations with France shouldn't be a blanket forgiveness of sins or an agreement to forget past actions. As the late Ronald Reagan said about the Soviet Union, we need to "trust, but verify" when it comes to France. Otherwise it will all be just for show and we'll be back talking about banning French Fries and French Vanilla simply because of the name.