Monday, April 28, 2003

# Posted 1:00 PM by Patrick Belton  

AXIS OF EVIL, PART "TOO"?: More on Franco-Saddam and Russo-Saddam cooperation is emerging from the remnants of the bombed-out Mukhabarat headquarters. (Regarding the initial nature of all of these reports as they come in, see Josh's excellent caveat above.....)

The British press is reporting that documents being discovered in Baghdad indicate Moscow provided Saddam with lists of assassins available for "hits" in the West. Moscow also provided Saddam with intelligence, it now turns out, on conversations between PM Blair and other Western leaders. In other stories over the weekend, it's also emerging from Iraqi intelligence files that the French foreign ministry kept Saddam informed about every development in American planning to which they had access. (We've covered Russo-Saddam cooperation before here, and Franco-Saddam cooperation recently here.)

The U.S. has long and appropriately adopted a strategy of carrots and sticks in its sometimes cooperative, sometimes competitive relationship with Russia. Fortunately, the U.S. is showing that it will now also respond to France's active alignment with Iraq against the US and UK with the appropriate sticks, and later with carrots as they are earned. As the NYT reports, a White House official told a visiting French official "I have instructions to tell you that our relations have been degraded." And administration officials have indicated their intent to sideline France within NATO and at international conferences.

This response of measured anger is appropriate. As enjoyable as it can regrettably be to bash the government of France when its actions contravene all of the decent norms of mankind, we can never take joy in the treachery of an ally, especially when it is of this magnitude. The utter and complete degradation of the Franco-American alliance, initiated by France, should be recognized by the US by its downgrading of all political (if legal are impracticable) expressions of that alliance - and then restoring these as soon as they are earned.
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