Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I assume you have seen, or at least heard about, the video showing French troops apparently firing at a crowd in the Ivory Coast.

I honestly know very little about the Ivory Coast. I know where it is, that it used to be a French colony before about 1960, that it was governed by a fairly typical African despot, Houphoet-Boigny, who was nonetheless at least somewhat enlightened and who was also in the pocket of France, that it either produces or used to produce a hell of a lot of cacao, and that over the last few years instability has greatly increased. I do not know whether the bad guys in this situation are the French-supported government, which apparently controls the south, or the rebels / terrorists / oppressed masses, who apparently control the north, or both. I'm willing to bet both.

I do know, however, that French troops are in combat in the Ivory Coast. I also know that they wiped out the tiny government air force for some reason. I know that they have taken casualties. I also know that the French felt called upon to intervene because Ivory Coast falls within the French sphere of influence, and, particularly, because there are a goodly number of French citizens living in Ivory Coast who are in danger.

The French intervention does not particularly bother me. I understand that Africa is an international disaster area that needs a lot of help from the West, and one form of help we can at least sort of provide in some places is security. If there's a civil war on, it's got to be stopped if possible, and the French are at least trying to make that possible.

What does bug me is the standard French third-world America-bashing line, according to which the Yanks are a bunch of goddamn imperialists while the French are, get this, all moral and solidarious. People: there is absolutely no moral difference between American intervention of Iraq and French intervention in the Ivory Coast, except that Saddam was a proven international danger and besides was making a hell of a lot of people more miserable and brutalized than any Ivory Coast warlord ever did.

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