by Robert Higgs
Before I explain why it is imperative that President Bush nuke France, I should make clear that I harbor no ill will whatsoever toward the French. Indeed, some of my dearest friends are French, and I will be deeply saddened to bid them adieu. But it's got to be done. The real puzzle is why the Bush administration is taking so long to appreciate the gravity of the threat that France poses to US national security.
For some time, the administration's Hitler du jour has been Saddam Hussein. Although Saddam is certainly no mother's little angel, the threat he constitutes to the American people has been greatly exaggerated, whereas the menace posed by the diabolical Jacques Chirac has gone nearly undetected until recently. Certain parallels, of course, have been too obvious to escape notice: both of these heads of state, for example, operate from palaces, although the Elysee Palace undoubtedly outshines the gauche edifices that Saddam inhabits.
Only in the past few weeks have FBI and CIA sleuths combined their data banks to discover that Chirac's activities as a dedicated anti-American terrorist began half a century ago when he disguised himself as a student and ordinary worker in order to gain access to the critical Anheuser-Busch facility in St. Louis, where he posed as a fork-lift operator, and to a highly classified Howard Johnson's, where, serving as a soda jerk, he was able to scope out US stocks of carbon dioxide and other noxious chemicals in our WMD arsenal. Since those days of working as a member of a Gaullist cell hidden deep within the vast recesses in our all-too-welcoming country, he has continued to strive relentlessly to augment his power, his single goal being the complete domination of the United States and the subjection of its freedom-loving, English-speaking people to French lessons and haute cuisine.
Unlike Saddam, who worked in harmony with US officials for many years prior to 1991 and expressed only pacific inclinations toward this country, Chirac has always insisted insanely on putting the interests of France above those of the United States. Nor has he kept his bellicosity under tight wraps. Only a few days ago, in an exclusive interview given to reporters for Time, the iron-fisted tyrant known in his own country as "Le Bulldozer" said, "France is not a pacifist country." Few could miss the implied threat to US security in that naked declaration. Nor could anyone mistake his hostile intentions when he declared: "Regarding America's role as a sole superpower: Any community with only one dominant power is always a dangerous one, and provokes reactions."
Unlike Iraq, which lacks effective capacity to deliver WMDs to the United States even if it possessed them, France has not only developed a panoply of such devastating weapons, but it has built and deployed high-tech missiles, aircraft, surface vessels, and submarines to deliver warheads powerful enough to wreak unimaginable destruction on the United States. According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (July/August 2001), French spending for nuclear forces has been running at 15.8 billion francs ($2.3 billion) per year, roughly equivalent to 40 percent the entire GDP of Iraq. Each of the French Triomphant-class submarines – note well the intimidating name – carries sixteen M45 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLMBs), each missile with six TN 75 nuclear warheads. France is developing a new SLMB, the M51, which will replace the M45, carry as many as six warheads each, and possess a range of 8,000-10,000 kilometers (in contrast to Iraq's ridiculous Scuds, which are little more than flying tin cans of limited range and highly dubious accuracy). With its inventory of 288 nuclear warheads for its SLBMs, 50 for its Mirage 2000N bombers, and 10 for its carrier-based Super Etendard aircraft, France is effectively positioned to blackmail the United States and the world unless George Bush exercises the fortitude required to knock out this potentially catastrophic threat before the pitiless Chirac unleashes it on unsuspecting Americans.
Lest anyone doubt the capacity of the cold-hearted French supreme leader to use his nuclear weapons against the United States, we would do well to recall how he defied world opinion in 1995 when he carried out nuclear tests at Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific, provoking Australian Acting Prime Minister Kim Beazley to characterize Chirac's actions as evincing "an arrogant disregard" for the UN General Assembly resolution demanding a halt to the tests. Saddam Hussein has submitted to UN conditions and admitted scores of UN inspectors to verify that he has no WMDs. Jacques Chirac, however, continues to defy world opinion and to maintain a nuclear arsenal primed to destroy anyone who obstructs his ambition to dominate first Europe and then, of course, the entire world.
Unlike the chickenhawks who occupy the higher reaches of the Bush administration, Chirac is a battle-hardened soldier who fought and was wounded in the brutal Algerian conflict during the 1950s. If that experience itself does not demonstrate sufficiently the ice water in his veins, one might bear in mind that he also graduated from the Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA), the elite training academy for Europe's cruelest bureaucrats. Clearly, he is a man who will stop at nothing.
Thus, the gauntlet has been thrown down. All that remains is to see whether George W. Bush will accept the challenge. Will Bush understand that whereas Iraq might well be left to rot away for years before requiring serious US attention, France constitutes at this very instant a monstrous threat – a danger that can only be described as massif – to all Americans and their way of life, especially their indulgence in fast food and their near-total ignorance of la gloire de la France. Against Iraq, a US attack might be, at best, preventive; against France, in stark contrast, a US attack would be, without a doubt, preemptive. The Franco-threat is real: the steely-eyed Chirac has the means, and he has the motive. Will George Bush do what must be done, or, for us Américains, will this be la fin?
February 22, 2003
Robert Higgs [send him mail] lives and writes in Covington, Louisiana (formerly a French territory). A native of Oklahoma, though reared for the most part in California, he speaks no French.
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