PSYCHOANALYZING THE FRENCH….Megan McArdle asks: “what were the French thinking?”

Leaving the moral question of the war aside, why did they block us so completely at the UN? Let’s look at the results: the US has walked away from the UN, and probably severely damaged its power. Since the UN Security Council veto is main source of France’s geopolitical power, this is very bad for France. It’s also walked away from France, certainly damaging Franco-American relations. Attempting, and failing, to block us markedly diminished the perception of French power….Overall, not a result you’d think anyone was looking for.

Oddly enough, I think the answer is pretty simple: they just fucked up.

Americans tend to look at everything through the lense of anti-Americanism, but in this case it’s the wrong lense. France has adopted a strategy of intense bullying within the EU for ? well, pretty much forever. They routinely demand special treatment in everything from farm policy to trade policy to monetary policy to practically every other policy you can imagine. They bully, they bluster, they refuse to back down, they threaten to bring everything to a halt, and you know what? It works. Within the EU, this policy has produced immense payoffs for France.

Unfortunately for the French, George Bush is a bully too, and the United States has a history of being every bit as intransigent as France. Jacques Chirac must have figured that he could stare us down, as he and his predecessors have done so often within Europe, but he couldn’t. In other words, he fucked up.

So that’s that. A more interesting question, I think, is what did they want? If they expected us to blink eventually, what price were they hoping to get us to pay once we had backed down? I confess that I really can’t figure that one out, but they must have had something in mind. What do you suppose it was?