At first, they denounced the formation of the Iraqi Governing Council, suggesting it was illegitimate. Then the French and their willing sidekick U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan insisted that power be handed over to the council immediately to initiate the "logic of sovereignty" instead of the "logic of occupation."
The French and the U.N. know that to do this would mean the Lebanonization of Iraq. Bosnia's been occupied - by the United Nations! - for seven years. "Does Kofi Annan," asked Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek, "really think that what took seven years in Bosnia can take one year in Iraq, with six times as many people?"
Of course not. And that's the point.
The aim is for America to fail and if that means Iraq becomes a bloody quagmire that destabilizes the region, well, maybe that's worth it. The notion that the French really care about the innocent people of Iraq is flatly absurd.
Yes, this month the French voted in favor of the U.S.-backed resolution establishing a multinational force under U.S. command. And, all of a sudden, there's silence about the French as if they've come around.
But last month, Friedman wrote in The New York Times, "It's time we Americans came to terms with something: France is not just our annoying ally. It is not just our jealous rival. France is becoming our enemy."
Friedman was right then, which means he's still right now. One U.N. vote - which, by the way, was accompanied by a swift French promise that they'd do nothing to help with the reconstruction - hardly signals a fundamental change in France's desire to hamstring America.
What is astounding is how much of a free pass this one-time ally is getting here in America. Because the war was unpopular with many liberals, it's assumed that France's actions are informed by the same principles as, say, Howard Dean's. I think Dean's positions on the war are scandalously dim-witted and ill-advised. But he still wants what is best for America and even Iraq. It is impossible to say the same thing about France.