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Franco-German Resistance Toward US Power Politics

Franco-German Resistance Toward U.S. Power Politics


By PINR
Power and Interest News Report (PINR)

(PINR) – When the Bush administration took office international diplomacy received an injection of power politics. Beginning with the declaration that North Korea, Iran and Iraq comprised an "axis of evil," and culminating in the current aggression toward Baghdad, Washington has relied on the threat of military and economic force in order to further its perceived national interests and geopolitical goals.

While in the past Washington has been able to rely on persuasion or "soft force" as an effective tool of international diplomacy, the Bush administration's unilateralist policy has failed to convince former allies of the global benefits of current U.S. geopolitical strategy in the Middle East. President Bush alluded to this forceful approach in his recent State of the Union Address when he affirmed that, "the course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others."

France and Germany, once bulwarks of U.S. foreign policy, have both broken away from their traditional supporting roles and are directly challenging Washington's aspirations of removing Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq. Buoyed by support from Russia and China, the intensifying Franco-German alliance has withstood U.S. economic pressure and sharp criticism by Bush administration officials who have labeled France and Germany as being part of "old Europe," following "shameful" policies which risk France and Germany's "diplomatic isolation." In addition to the current U.S. administration, Capitol Hill is also fused with anger as members of the U.S. Congress are calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops stationed in Germany, along with trade sanctions on French imports such as water and wine. As U.S. Representative Peter T. King of New York recently said, "Anything we can do to hurt [France and Germany] without hurting us, I support."

Despite economic pressure from the United States, France and Germany have remained steadfast against the notion of a preemptive strike on Iraq. Instead of supporting current U.S. plans, Paris and Berlin have called for a boost in the number of U.N. monitoring teams working inside Iraq. Washington responded, calling the proposal "useless."

The motivations for French, German and Russian refusal to participate in Washington's Middle East policy are two-fold: economic concerns and the prevention of an unrestrained U.S. foreign policy.

Both Russia and France have economic stakes in the current Iraqi government. Russia, for example, has been granted tremendous oil contracts. LUKoil, the second largest Russian oil firm, has signed a multi-billion dollar oil production deal with Saddam Hussein, giving it a majority stake in West Qurna, a gigantic Iraqi oil field holding 11 billion barrels of oil.

TotalFinaElf, the French oil giant, was granted a deal giving it rights to Iraq's largest oil field, the Majnoon, affording the company a 15 percent stake in Iraq's 112 billion barrels of oil reserves.

With the removal of Saddam Hussein by the United States, LUKoil and TotalFinaElf would most certainly lose some of their potential profits as the new Iraqi government, directly supported by the United States, would possibly renege or at least forcibly renegotiate oil contracts established under Saddam's regime.

Aside from economic concerns, the main factor motivating France, Germany and Russia is their angst toward U.S. power politics perpetuated through the Bush administration's unilateralist approach to foreign policy and the U.S.' attempt to project power into the Middle East. Significantly, these three powers are no longer persuaded that U.S. national interests are synonymous with their own. With Washington now warning that neither the U.N. nor NATO will block their national strategy, France, Germany and Russia have become diplomatically hostile toward what they perceive to be growing U.S. nationalism.

Besides these three powers, smaller nations are also concerned over U.S. nationalist foreign policy, especially Middle Eastern states who fear that the Bush administration is trying to reshape the Middle East in a form that will benefit the United States. Washington has publicly expressed its disdain for the governments of Iran, Libya, Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia, causing these nations to react cautiously to any form of increased U.S. presence in the region.

Many of these Middle Eastern autocratic governments are also having to take into account their own civilian populations that are overwhelmingly against not only a U.S. invasion of Iraq but of any cooperation between their government and the United States. Middle Eastern rulers are beginning to fear Islamic revolution, as Islamist groups in the Middle East have gained credibility in the eyes of civilians who are starting to believe that aggressive U.S. "imperialism" is threatening their way of life and needs to be repelled.

These factors are but only some of the most important that combine to explain why there is so much resistance to U.S. foreign policy. Both France and Germany, much closer allies to the United States than Russia and China, perceive a unilateralist United States, free from the restrictions of international restraining organizations such as the United Nations and NATO, to be a direct threat to their own national interests. This time around Paris and Berlin may not back down.

*************

Erich Marquardt drafted this report.

[The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an analysis-based publication that seeks to, as objectively as possible, provide insight into various conflicts, regions and points of interest around the globe. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader. PINR seeks to inform rather than persuade. This report may be reproduced, reprinted or broadcast provided that any such reproduction identifies the original source, http://www.pinr.com. All comments should be directed to content@pinr.com.]

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