Friday, April 09, 2004

France vs Taiwan

My friend, Pastorius, at CUANAS has suggested I should follow up my comments about Taiwan with a post noting the fact that France recently conducted joint naval exercises with China in the week prior to Taiwan's elections in March. My first reaction to this story was to wonder if being menaced by the French might actually have made Taiwan safer.

But, of course, China's continued military intimidation of Taiwanese voters is no laughing matter. And it is unconscionable that a democratic nation should aid and abet such intimidation. But of course, this is not the first time France has had intimate dealings with dictatorships. In January, the Chinese president visited Paris to discuss lifting the EU ban on selling weapons technology to China. Even more problematically, there are indications that French ministers received bribes from Saddam Hussein to vote in favor of lifting sanctions and to oppose the US-led war. And, as I noted below, Rwanda is accusing France of training the militia responsible for the genocide in the former country ten years ago.

It is difficult to know what to think about all of this. I find it personally inconceivable that a country that has a living memory of being invaded by the Nazis could be so consistently on the wrong side of so many issues. Anti-Americanism is an easy answer for some of the more recent stories, but it strikes me as too cheap and anyway not really relevant to things like the Rwanda business. David Horowitz, in The Politics of Bad Faith points out that there are deep philosophical differences between the French and the American Revolutions. In this he is echoing F. A. Hayek's comments about the distinction between Continental and British concepts of liberty in The Constitution of Liberty. Perhaps we are seeing the final degradation of a process that has been going on for much longer than we realize.

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