Tuesday, January 28, 2003

French Game Theory, and American Responses

Steven Den Beste thinks that the French will lose out if America wins the war because the American transitional government won't let them participate in the reconstruction/oil sale and (I assume) won't recognize debts made Saddam's government. I think that depends on two factual questions:

(1) What are the chances that an American transitional government will actually freeze French companies out? I think they are low. We are not actually planning on looting Iraq to pay for the war (as far as I know) and I imagine the transitional government will be free to sign contracts with any non-rogue country. If the transitional government includes sufficient number of current Iraqi officials (presumably because they surrendered quickly or actually defected to us), then France will be very well connected. Of course, this assumes that we don't discovery that France is actually fighting against us - see below.

(2) What are the chances that Saddam has the capability to engage in WMD terrorism against our European/Middle East allies? If Saddam has shipped some of that missing nerve gas to Paris in a diplomatic pouch, joining the US may be an unreasonable risk for a country as openly cynical as France, particularly since the US will stop Iraq with or without our "allies."

Ultimately, these are questions which will be answered in time, if at all.

A more interesting question to me is:

What Should We Do If We Learn France Is Hostile to the US?

If it turns out that France violated sanctions here or there, or even sold Iraq WMD precursors, I think France probably skates. However, today, Trent Telenko (via Instapundit) linked to rumors that France is actually providing military intelligence to Iraq. That's a different kettle of fish.

So the question is, if we invade Iraq and learn that France has either (1) been tipping off the Iraqis to UN weapons inpections or (2) is actually providing Saddam with military intelligence, then what should happen? Hopefully, France's government would collapse, similar to Holland's after it turned out that the Dutch peacekeepers basically allowed the murders at Srebrenica. We could certainly hasten that by refusing to deal with France until everyone in the Chirac government resigns. However, I think we could go one step better. If it turns out France has been giving aid and comfort to the Iraqis, we should use it as justification to (finally) push France off the Security Council.