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On the French Invasion
In Dissent, Number One Hundred and Twenty-Nine
by Brian S. Wise
22 August 2003France

Guess who just invaded two foreign countries without United Nations approval?


Odds are you do not know of, or are only passively familiar with, John Gibson, host of the Fox News Channel’s The Big Story.  The show occupies the 5pm to 6pm Eastern time slot; while most of the United States is either at work or headed home from work, Gibson is hosting and, at the conclusion of each show, running some of the best smack on cable television.  Take this example, from last Monday, 18 August: “Let’s play a guessing game.  Guess which country recently sent a secret military mission to Brazil and Columbia, without telling either country it was about to – well – launch a small invasion?”

Your interest is immediately piqued; What’s this?!  “This country also didn’t ask the UN Security Council for permission to conduct a military operation in Brazil and Columbia.  It just went ahead on its own, in defiance of international law.  This country also botched the whole operation so badly that the newspapers at home called it ‘The Bungle in the Jungle.’”  Okay, who was it?  “It was those cheese-eating surrender monkeys, the French – the very same people who have trashed America for going on a year now, saying our war in Iraq was illegal and illegitimate because we didn’t have UN approval.”  (“Cheese-eating surrender monkeys,” by the way, is quite possibly the greatest descriptive terms in the history of the English language, first spoken about French-language students on The Simpsons and later made popular in conservative circles by National Review Online’s Jonah Goldberg.)

For those who equate anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism with good policy, and who therefore take the United Nations seriously when it comes to international affairs, this should be of no small interest: Last month, four French men offered a Brazilian bush pilot named Cleilton de Abreu £3,500 to fly them from Manaus to an airstrip near the border with Columbia.  “What de Abreu could never have guessed,” explains the UK’s Telegraph, “… was that he was carrying French secret service agents and a high-ranking government official.”  For what?  “They were the advance unit of an extraordinary mission to rescue [Columbian politician] Ingrid Betancourt … who was kidnapped by Marxist guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia [a.k.a. Farc] … while campaigning as a candidate in a presidential election 17 months ago.”

Betancourt has no real modern day connections to France, other than she has a French passport as “a result of her first marriage to a diplomat,” and that her family were “close friends” of French prime minister Dominique de Villepan, who taught Betancourt political science in Paris 20 years ago.  (Her autobiography was also a French bestseller, if that counts as anything.)

As you might have otherwise imagined, considering we are talking about the French, things did not go as planned, and the whole thing failed miserably.  “France stands accused of secretly negotiating with one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations behind the backs of the governments of Brazil and Columbia, both of which insist they were never informed about the proposed mission …. Despite vigorous denials, the suspicion remains that a deal with Farc to exchange Betancourt for arms and / or millions of dollars had been on the table.”  (What?!  Arms for hostages?!  The emphasis was added to reflect the Iran Contra feel, for those of you who may have otherwise failed to make the connection, thus being tempted to give the French a pass.)

Subsequent denials fell apart under scrutiny and de Villepin was finally forced to apologize to Celso Amorim (his Brazilian counterpart), who accepted the apology, but apparently did not speak for the diplomat who suggested Brazil expel French diplomats, saying they “would do better not to treat us like one of their African colonies.”  (Ouch, babe.)  One can now completely understand why France was so willing to veto the UN deal with Libya over payment to the Lockerbie families … they are used to negotiating with terrorists.

Just so the criteria is well established for any future military debate: Authors of Franco-bestsellers / Brazilian politicians are perfectly worth unsanctioned negotiations with terrorist organizations and invasion (there seems to be no better term) so long as someone in your administration taught them at university.  However, bringing to an abrupt end a toilet dictatorship responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, which had WMD programs, which invaded a few nations on its own accord without UN approval and which ignored 17 UN resolutions is absolutely out of the question.  Well, all right.

Brian Wise is the lead columnist for IntellectualConservative.com.

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