FRANCE BOWS OUT….After all the jawboning recently about the difficulty we’re having getting a new UN resolution on Iraq ? thanks to the legendary intransigence of the French, of course ? imagine my surprise at reading this:

Mr. Chirac made clear that he did not intend to veto that resolution, unless it became “provocative.” He explained, “We don’t have the intention to oppose. If we oppose it, that would mean voting ‘no,’ that is to say, to use the veto. I am not in that mind-set at all.”

But he said France would vote for the resolution only if it included a deadline for the transfer of sovereignty and a timetable for the transfer of power, as well as a “key role” for the United Nations. Otherwise, he said, France will abstain.

Granted, I don’t know what Chirac’s definition of “provocative” is, but even so, isn’t this a pretty plain statement that France is going to stay out of the way? And really, that’s all anyone has ever wanted from them.

If Chirac is serious ? and there’s no reason to think he’s not ? it doesn’t really matter anymore whether the current French proposal is brilliant or utterly idiotic. As long as they don’t veto whatever proposal we work out with the rest of the Security Council, we’re fine.

Of course, there is still the rest of the pesky UN to deal with, and if the Bush administration decides to rely on its usual strategy of petulance and threats of “irrelevence” ? do these guys have any other notes when they’re trying to win friends and influence people? ? we’re going to be sent packing regardless. The only difference is that this time we won’t be able to blame the French.

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