In the world of news columnists/television political commentators there are few who can rival Charles Krauthammer when it comes to getting quickly to the heart of an issue and seeing past the rhetoric. OK, Thomas Sowell also, but today we'll focus on Mr. Krauthammer.
I was initially drawn to his point of view during the Hurricane Katrina coverage when he was the first commentator I saw posit that President Bush could not send federal troops into New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana without consent or invitation from the governor and legislature. He pointed out that the president can't simply usurp the section of the U.S. Code often referred to as the Insurrection Act or more accurately Posse Comitatus.
That section states that the president can not override the state government unless it is a national emergency involving Nuclear, Chemical or Biological weapons, or outright insurrection, none of which were the case in Katrina. This fact was omitted by most news reporters who apparently don't understand Latin, but not by Mr. Krauthammer.
This past week Mr. Krauthammer made an especially succinct observation as a panelist on Fox News Special Report, explaining the debacle that the Cease Farce between Israel and Hezbollah has become. The high sounding be all, end all agreement as negotiated primarily between France and the US has turned into a true quagmire and the French are at the heart of the degeneration.
Krauthammer explained that the French, having once been colonial overlords to the Lebanese, still feel a need to be the predominant outside force in deciding how matters will proceed in the region, and still carry considerable weight and prestige there. Thus the French made convincing arguments that they should be a partner with the US in getting a Cease Farce resolution approved by the Untied Nations.
The first resolution proposed was strict, called for disarmament of Hezbollah, and was immediately shot down by the Arab nations. So another softer, kinder, gentler resolution was suggested. We, the United States, went along with this resolution apparently due to the French argument that since they were putting thousands of troops into the Cease Farce Zone, in fact, the largest number from any contributing nation, they had a larger stake in deciding the rules because their troops were most at risk.
Once the resolution, which didn't spell out whether or how Hezbollah was to be disarmed, was passed by the UN, France did an about face and substantially reduced the number of troops it was contributing to the cause from several thousand to about 200. They said they were reducing their contribution because they didn't like the new rules, the ones they had just negotiated.
In his comments Mr. Krauthammer noted the French "duplicity" in pushing such hypocritical Cease Farce limitations, and then further noted that it would be all the more remarkable if they weren't being "so French."
In that one comment he has brought out into the open, as a matter of serious geopolitical discussion, what until now has been the stuff of internet jokes and stand up comedy routines.
Q. "How many Frenchmen does it take to liberate Paris?"
A. No one knows, it's never been done.
We could go on in this vein ad nauseum but the point is made.
I would like to assure the French people and especially its armed forces that this commentary is not aimed at them, unless they voted for the government that is so horribly betraying them at home and in the international arena. For what it is worth, I should also point out that I have French ancestry; you will find the name in classical literature where it is deWinter.
The name actually came to me from my Scottish grandfather. Although I am related to the ancient Clan Gunn through my grandmother who was a descendant of the Jamieson sept, family lore maintains that my grandfather's ancestors left France and settled in Scotland in the 14th century. Within a generation or two they all considered themselves Scots, but the name still goes back to France.
I also realize that this doesn't give me any special standing within the French culture, any more than my Scottish cousins consider me Scottish. But I do have an emotional tie to my ancestry and would not go out of my way to be critical of other nationalities if I didn't think the situation warranted.
Why, just yesterday I had a very successful public appearance where I did a reading and book signing of Masters of the Art at a national bookseller, and afterwards at dinner enjoyed a terrific bowl of French Onion Soup! That should count for something shouldn't it?
Regardless, the fact is the French leadership has shown itself to be duplicitous on the national and international scenes for quite some time now and it has become so bad that the entire country is being held up to international ridicule as incompetents, collaborators, turncoats and cowards.
Weekend TV news shows even broadcast videos purporting to show French reinforcements arriving in Lebanon -- two motorized rubber rafts containing a total of eight French servicemen! Wow. How would you like to be ridiculed like that on international television?
There are a couple of possible courses of action to deal with this deplorable degeneration of the French image. The French can stiffen their backbones, oust the so-called leaders who are bringing this outrage down upon them, and restore their standing at home and abroad.
Or, failing to do that, the international community can relegate the French ambassadors, envoys, and points of view to a newly formed 4th World netherland, a place where once viable and vital countries are sent after they have lost their will and national status.
Meanwhile, the US can drop all pretense and stop dealing with France in the international arena. France's leaders have shown themselves to be liars and manipulators. The American public has known for decades that they can't be trusted and many are questioning with good cause why Condi Rice trusted them this time.
As a result of them being "so French" the Middle East is now in worse straits than it was before the fighting, not one item earmarked by the Bush Administration as essential for enactment of a viable Cease Farce has come to pass, and Israel, our best and strongest ally in the region is again at risk. How many times do you need your nose rubbed in offal to understand that it stinks and will never change?
Unless you drench it in expensive French perfume. That doesn't change its basic nature, but it does give the gullible a case for plausible deniability.
Sunday, August 20, 2006