Ariel Natan PaskoAriel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers.
The simple explanation is that France is attempting to regain its glory days of being an international power broker. By resisting the United States and United Kingdom's direction, in how to treat Iraq, Saddam Hussein, and the specter of a 'Crazy State' developing and using, or spreading, Weapons of Mass Destruction to Islamic terrorist groups, France is flexing its diplomatic muscles once again. It wants to prove that it is in nobody?s back pocket. There is some merit to this argument.
France has a long history of counter-intuitive behavior. Two of the most recent examples are its long support for the Common Market, the European Union, and quite possibly, a United States of Europe, and its behavior - or should I say, lack of it - in regard to NATO. An older example is France's support for the American Revolution in the colonies against the British. France seems hell-bent on proving that it is Europe's 'Bad Boy' of diplomacy.
In all three examples, there is a touch of anti-British or anti-Anglo-Saxon behavior. In supporting the American revolt against English colonial rule in North America, France sideswiped its European rival quite nicely. Why support a revolution of questionable success against an already established world power? This was at the beginning of France's rise to international power broker, built on opposition to Anglo-Saxon power. France and Britain were colonial power rivals throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, including in the Middle East.
During World War II, France was an occupied country, part of which collaborated with the Nazis in the Vichy Regime. France's rival Britain was not. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, within a decade, France overcame its feelings toward the newly created West Germany, to form with them what ultimately became the Common Market, and is now the European Union. Although the United Kingdom attempted to join in 1961 and again in 1967 - vetoed by France - they finally were accepted in 1972. During this time period, the 1950s to 1980s, the United Kingdom was cold and resistant to this process of European integration. Why did France side with its former conqueror - Germany - against its ally and liberator, Britain? Why give up national sovereignty to a supra-national entity?
A Frenchman, Jean Monnet, was a main proponent, after World War II, of the concept of European integration and France has been one of the driving powers to achieve a United States of Europe. Especially after the Soviet Union has collapsed, leaving America as the sole superpower, Europeans (i.e. the French), envision a United Europe as a rival power to the United States of America. Britain, although a partner in the European Union, still maintains very positive relations with its younger, English-speaking brother, now grown up, across the big pond. France has been the exacerbating factor in EU-US relations throughout the 1990s.
The French did the same thing in the 1960's. In 1966, France pulled its troops out of the NATO military command, though it remained a NATO member. Before France withdrew its troops, NATO's central office had been in Paris. In 1967, the organization moved its headquarters to Brussels, Belgium. This followed their earlier decision to develop their "Force de Frappe" - strike force - their independent nuclear deterrent. These actions 'proved' their independence from American-British dominance in the alliance. The 'Bad Boy' of international diplomacy struck again. France has a pathological tendency to oppose.
However, as mentioned above, this is the simple way of looking at the situation. Such a serious issue cannot be resolved with such a superficial analysis as this. One must dig deeper to uncover the underlying reason. Penetrating analysis must be employed to view the larger implications of the problem. A more holistic view of the pathology will help in curing the disease. Nursing France and others back to health, the rejection of support for 'Crazy State' behavior, can help return them to the family of sane and peace-loving nations.
During the late Cold War period, many spoke of the Finlandization of Europe. Finland, neighbor of the former Soviet Union, fearful of the occupation that the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania suffered after World War II, was effectively neutralized. In return for their 'freedom' they took a neutral political line during the post-war superpower rivalry. By the 1970s, many felt that this process was expanding to other parts of Europe. Although technically part of the Western Alliance - NATO - there was great pressure on European governments from some of its citizens to take a more neutral position between the US and USSR. This fear of being on the front lines, leading to near identification with the enemy, a sort of 'Stockholm Syndrome' - the identification of a victim with their terrorist captor - on a national scale, concerned American policy makers and their more stalwart allies. Was Europe going to be neutralized, like Finland?
This is exactly what is happening today with France, in particular, and other parts of Europe, more generally. With upwards of 15 million Arabs and Muslims in Europe today, and 5-6 million of them in France alone - about 10% of the population - actively building mosques and missionizing Europeans, and with one eye focused on trade with the Arab-Islamic world, and another greedily eyeing the oil supply, France and others in Europe are succumbing to creeping Islamicization.
Europe, for the most part post-Christian, has a spiritual vacuum to fill. Unlike America, a country founded on the principle of 'Freedom of Religion' not 'Freedom from Religion', European political modernization - the rise of secular democratic states - was a direct consequence of the rejection of the Church, and the divine right of kings. Following the Protestant Reformation, the end of monarchy and the rise of the modern nation-state, secularization of society has led to this weakness in the spiritual immune system of Europe.
America was founded by religious and political renegades who constructed a system that both separated religion from state, and allowed it to flourish independent of state support. Modern Europe, in contrast, largely revolting against state-supported churches, has left the back door open to this Islamic tidal wave, carried initially by its new immigrants from North Africa, Turkey, the Middle East, and Asia.
Today, the Islamicization is largely being sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Iran - the dual axis of spreading the 'gospel' of Islam throughout Europe. Not so dissimilar from the role of the Left, Euro-Communists and the Greens in Europe's not so distant past. But it's not just 'Islam', but a revolutionary, highly political and missionary Islam, whether Wahabbist or of the Khomeini variety. Jihadist Islam is exerting its influence in Europe, and on European foreign policy. Stockholm Syndrome - on a national scale - is beginning to grip parts of Europe. Combined fear of terrorism at home, the consequences of war, and the fifth column of Islamists within, is leading France and others in Europe inextricably toward neutrality and Franco-Islamicization. Whether France or other European states 'convert' to Islam officially is of little practical consequence. Franco-Islamicization - the neutralization of Europe in the war on terrorism, the infection of the European body politic in a morally debilitating way - is taking place slowly, almost imperceptibly, yet taking place nonetheless.
Let's get things straight. The 'War on Terror' is against a political behavior - terrorism - rejected by Western democratic civilization. Some Asian countries with Islamic majorities might come aboard, fancying themselves evolving democracies, but wherever Muslims live, they are susceptible to the plague of Jihadist Islam. Islam started as an Arab imperialist movement, and at its core aspires to world domination. Unlike the Judeo-Christian-created Western democratic paradigm - live and let live - Jihadist Islam, like the 'old time religion' of Communism, is totalitarian in nature.
The term 'War on Terror' is an attempt to define the problem in the narrowest possible way, to ignore the cultural or religious implications of the issue. But until the equivalent of an Islamic Reformation takes place -and a dominant peaceful version of Islam emerges - ready to live with the rest of the world, discussion of democracy in the Arab-Islamic world will prove fruitless. Don't forget that these Islamic radicals are generally supported financially and otherwise, in their communities, whether in Europe, America, or elsewhere.
Analyzing the problem of terror on the individual or small group level, but deliberately ignoring the civilizational aspects of the present conflict with the Islamic world, reduces the discussion to an analogous rejection of a commune here or there during the Cold War. A conflict of two world-views existed between the US and the USSR, each with competing systems of economic, social, and political organization; it wasn't a fight over a commune or two.
American leadership under President Bush and Secretary of State Powell, with the best of intentions, has missed the point. Functioning on the individualist paradigm of democracy and not wanting a direct conflict with its allies in Europe and the Arab states, they have, by default, contributed to the confusion. Israel's leaders, dealing with Palestinian Islamic terror - suicide bombings and the like - aren't far behind. Blaming 'terrorists', rather than seeing it in civilizational terms, leads nowhere. Without proper diagnosis of the disease, cure is next to impossible.
The disease is Jihadist Islam. The symptom is Franco-Islamicization. If a cure isn't found soon, we'll all be awakening to the call of the muezzin - the Islamic prayer call blasting out of mosques. Is that what you want for yourself, your children and grandchildren? I know that's not what I want.
Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree in International Relations and Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites, in newspapers, and can be read at www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko.
(c) 2003/5763 Pasko
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