George Will

``We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation's security.''

                                           --President Kennedy, during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

WASHINGTON--Wars do not always begin with an abrupt, cymbal-crash rupture of conditions properly characterized as peace. There can be almost seamlessly incremental transitions.

The war against Iraq has begun--much as America's war against Nazi Germany really began months before Pearl Harbor and Hitler's Dec. 11 declaration of war on America. It began when President Roosevelt ordered aggressive patrolling by the U.S. Navy against German submarines in the North Atlantic. On--note the day--Sept. 11, 1941, he said:

``Do not let us split hairs. Let us not say, `We will only defend ourselves if the torpedo succeeds in getting home, or if the crew and the passengers are drowned.' This is the time for prevention of attack.''

The Second Gulf War was under way weeks ago, with special operations forces in Iraq and U.S. and U.K. aircraft expanding their target lists in the name of enforcing the no-fly zones. Soon the bow wave created by the movement of the great ship America into full-scale war will wash away Lilliputian nuisances, such as French diplomacy.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, on ABC's ``This Week'' last Sunday, said: ``Do you want me to tell you, really, what France is worried about? How many boys, American boys, are going to die in Iraq.'' The effrontery of his expectation that gullible Americans will believe that French policy flows from compassion for American ``boys'' is exceeded by that of his innuendo that France has more concern for those ``boys'' than does their commander in chief.

Such smarminess is the least offensive of current French stances, some of which, if successful, would increase the threats to American troops. No longer in any meaningful sense an ally, France does not disguise its aim to be a counterweight to the United States. It seemed uninterested in the fact that the deployment of defensive missiles to protect Turkey from Iraqi attacks, a deployment France opposed, also would protect U.S. forces at Incirlik air base in Turkey.

George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
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