On Friday, I wrote a post that referred to France's recent efforts as "Le Suicide Diplomatique." It explained how their recent set of international actions, taken together, had set them up for greatly diminished international standing and influence.
Well, that didn't take long. ("Antagonized large group of European states with EU power-grab maneuver, thus creating incentives for future payback on European front, too... Check.")
Let's skip right past serious alienation of the only world hyperpower, and kneecapping a body that serves as the 3rd leg of your diplomatic triad (the nuclear force de frappe and the EU being the other two). Or even the perfect timing and hilarious spectacle of their Keystone Cops venture in Africa going so wrong that thousands of demonstrators are asking for the U.S.A (gotta love them pictures!). Let's stick to Europe for now.
Let's stick to this letter. These are the leaders of the UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland talking. They aren't happy. Many have substantial farming interests who aren't happy with France's privileged position as the main beneficiary of subsidies, and who may begin to see gain in cooperating within the EU to push for change. Success in that area would be very destabilizing to France's internal politics, and they know it. Worse (for France), the scene is ripe for it.
Consider this: Poland alone has more farmers than Germany and France combined. Indeed, recent EU expansion has increased the number of farmers within the Common Market by over half. All of the recent inductee nations have been shortchanged in the agricultural sector, and they know who had the most to do with that. Many of them also have historic, ah, issues with Germany. As do several of the signatories to this letter.
Their language is, properly, the language of unity. But only a fool would fail to see the implicit warning underneath: "We have common interests," goes the subtext, "and we will not hesitate to work together to protect them." That those common interests may well begin to extend past Iraq goes without saying.
Some in the Blogosphere are crediting American diplomacy for this stroke. They're looking in the wrong place. The joint letter has Tony the Lionheart's fingerprints all over it, and once again demonstrates his value as the most brilliant diplomatic leader in the Anglosphere. Den Beste has noted that Blair staked a great deal on Britain becoming part of Europe. If the trans-Atlantic split were permitted to widen, his dream would lie in tatters. Worse, the U.K. would be faced with a set of diplomatic dilemmas that would punish it no matter which way it turned. Unlike the French, Tony isn't about to sit still for that sort of thing. His signature is on this document in more ways than one.
This ain't no poodle. This ain't no weasel. This ain't no foolin' around.
Now comes the really bad news for France: this ain't over, either. As I noted on Friday:
"Major insurance against being left more or less completely isolated is German politician so unpopular that he's the subject of widespread online game parodies. Good news: you may not have to honour deals with him. Bad news: you just honoured the biggest deal that will do you the most damage, he may not be around very long to honour much of anything with you, and now you're a convenient target for Schroder's domestic opposition. Who may decide to repair strained relations with the Americans, and alleviate European anxieties about Germany, by knifing you and publicly championing the smaller states in the EU once they come to power..."L'Axis des Belettes hasn't exactly been a raging success. "Last time someone screwed up this bad," I noted, "they were filming Waterworld." Or manning the Maginot.
UPDATES: Lexington Green of ChicagoBoyz explains how Britain has played a winning hand instead. American David Brooks extends this theme in today's Times of London with "Blair, bane of euroweenies and American superhero".
Instapundit says: "There's something to this -- but it's not the whole story nor, as I will note in a later post, would the Administration fail to deserve substantial credit even if Katzman's perspective were one hundred percent correct." That post is up now.
Having said all of this, I have a follow-on article: "The Blogosphere And the War In Europe." It may not be what you expect.