Should U.S. Retaliate If France Hurts Post-War Progress?

At the close of their Belfast summit last week, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the United Nations would have a “vital role” in post-war Iraq. President Bush elaborated: “That means food, that means medicines, that means aid, that means suggesting people for the Interim Iraqi Authorit.”

This was not good enough for French President Jacques Chirac. That same day, after it was announced he would attend a summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and German President Gerhard Schroder, Chirac said: “The reconstruction of Iraq is a matter for the United Nations and it alone.”

Will France try to maintain a coalition at the UN to hamper U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq? Human Events Assistant Editor David Freddoso asked members of Congress if the U.S. should retaliate if they do.

President Chirac said yesterday that the reconstruction of Iraq is for the UN and it alone-

Maj. Whip Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.): If President Chirac’s views on Iraq were still in force, Saddam Hussein would still be in control, and the people of Iraq would still be living under a brutal dictatorship with no future. So I do not believe his advice will be the prevailing advice in the days ahead.

With respect to France, if they continue to obstruct our policy in post-war Iraq, using the UN, should we retaliate against France through the Congress?

Blunt: I don’t believe that France has the ability to disrupt U.S. objectives in Iraq in any meaningful way.

Should there be a legislative effort to punish [the French], to retaliate?

Sen. Thad Cochran (R.-Miss.): I don’t think there will be. I think we’ll find ways to work with France that will be mutually beneficial. But as far as reconstruction-just to talk about that-that’s going to be something that’s decided by Iraq. And I suspect that they will look more favorably toward a coalition arrangement among those who helped overthrow the regime. . .They’re going to decide who to sell oil to and for how much, who to do business with, who their friends are. I think it’s just natural to assume that the United States and Great Britain will be in a much greater position to do business with the new Iraqi regime than anyone else in the world-especially France (laughs).

If the French continue to use the United Nations to obstruct our policy in post-war Iraq, should Congress retaliate against them?

Sen. Zell Miller (D.-Ga.): How would you retaliate? What do you mean by retaliate?

Economic sanctions, for example?

Miller: France ought to get out of the way. [I’m for] whatever it would take to get their attention.

If France continues to use the United Nations to obstruct U.S. policy in post-war Iraq, should there be legislative retribution against France?

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.): France ensured that the United Nations would not be part of this war in Iraq. It was conducted without their help. And the reconstruction can be done completely without the UN’s help. . .I certainly think France should have no say-so in the procedures and methods of the reconstruction.

Would you support a resolution to impose some kind of economic penalty against French goods?

Sessions: I’m open to that. This is really stunning. It takes great gall for France to suggest that they should basically have a veto over the reconstruction of Iraq, which they would if it goes to the Security Council. They vetoed the war, and why should we now say that they’re going to be able to veto the reconstruction of Iraq. That’s so ludicrous as to be beyond belief. Let me say, this Congress is getting really fed up with the French and their approach to things. Who knows what might pass?

If the French continue to use the United Nations to obstruct our policy in post-war Iraq, should Congress retaliate against them?

Sen. John Sununu (R.-N.H.): I think at this point, there aren’t that many people in the United States that are really taking President Chirac that seriously with regard to Iraq. The French showed their willingness to block a substantive dialogue in the Security Council, they showed their willingness to completely backtrack on what was a very strong first resolution in the Security Council calling for severe consequences if Saddam refused to disarm. And unfortunately, that kind of approach has just undermined the credibility of the Security Council. But I don’t expect anyone in Congress or in Washington to take these recent statements with a great deal of seriousness. . .

In terms, though, of showing our displeasure with their obstruction in some sort of policy-is there-

Sununu: I haven’t heard of any specific legislation.

Would you support it, if there were, for example-

Sununu: Well, you don’t need to make a martyr out of Jacques Chirac. You don’t need to make him some kind of cause celebre out of the world of leftist leaders.

Would you support economic sanctions against France?

Sununu: I don’t see that serving any useful purpose. . .They’re best left ignored.