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French Muslims Influence Government Policy on Iraq
February 18, 2003 10:22 AM   Subscribe

French Muslims Influence Government Policy on Iraq This piece from an on-line Arab source helps us to understand the French reluctance to want a war with Iraq. And you thought it was only about French oil interests, but non.
posted by Postroad (62 comments total)

 
It's also about French military-industrial interests... who do you think makes Iraq's Mirage jet fighters, the Chinese?

The French simply can't have all these very lucrative contracts going to American firms, you know.

When it comes right down to it, it's all about the money... you can dress a monkey in a suit, that doesn't make it anything but a monkey in a suit.
posted by clevershark at 10:35 AM on February 18, 2003


Actually, this is something quite interesting as well as obvious: the Muslim population of not just France but the whole of Europe is enormous. No wonder they have an influence.
posted by magullo at 10:43 AM on February 18, 2003


France learned it was a second-rate world power in 1956 when the Soviet Union and then the United States ordered it and Britain to stand down in the Suez conflict. Now, with the Iraq conflict, France is assigning itself to oblivion.
posted by stevefromsparks at 11:05 AM on February 18, 2003


This just in! Country's voters influence its policy!
posted by thedude256 at 11:11 AM on February 18, 2003


Chirac was among many candidates actively seeking the vote of second-generation French Arabs, known informally as beurs.

Meanwhile, in other news, Tony Blair and other Europeans also solicit votes from their citizens.

Wait! That's called democracy, right? Right?
posted by dash_slot- at 11:13 AM on February 18, 2003


American Jews citizens influence government policy on Iraq. Their influence extends to the highest level of our government!

Oops. Saying something like that must be antisemitic... but Arab-bashing is downright patriotic!
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:24 AM on February 18, 2003


France is assigning itself to oblivion

Wait until the next elections hit Europe and then we can continue talking about oblivion. Watching Jack Straw on the BBC defending war in front of a graph that showed how only 9% of the British public agreed with him was pretty damm pathetic. Same with Blair, Berlusconi and Aznar saying that they "agreed" with the anti-war demonstrations - many of which broke attendance records. Here is a free clue for them: the demostrations were against their policy. Get it?

OP: good point, insomnia_lj
posted by magullo at 11:25 AM on February 18, 2003


another of postroad's patented pathetic attempts to troll. yawn.
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:30 AM on February 18, 2003


When it comes right down to it, it's all about the money...

The Turks seem to agree.
posted by homunculus at 11:33 AM on February 18, 2003


But insomnia_lj, no one posts that to the front page because it's seemingly obvious, as is this story. French Muslims make up an increasingly large voting bloc and as such they will be pursued by politicians.

And I'm looking really hard at the previous posts but I'm not seeing any Arab bashing.
posted by PenDevil at 11:34 AM on February 18, 2003


Postroad is a very active and enthusiastic poster on a weblog that regularly calls for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. I think we all know where he stands on the ethical and moral compass, and each new post where he pretends to have just discovered this 'shocking stuff' is just another annoying troll.
posted by cell divide at 11:36 AM on February 18, 2003


Indeed. Troll away, Postroad. Troll away.

Flamebait.
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:37 AM on February 18, 2003


No chance the French could have a society sufficiently open, devoid of racism and with enough opportunity and social mobility that it's immigrants could be French first, and Arab immigrants second? No, of course not. Then France would be the United States. And France's Presidency wouldn't be staffed by a series of hack, career politicians schooled in a network of shitty administrative schools.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:53 AM on February 18, 2003


"I'm looking really hard at the previous posts but I'm not seeing any Arab bashing."

The implication is that since they are Arabs, they are therefore hopelessly biased against the US and for the Iraqis. The doublestandard is that inferring the same about Jewish Americans will get you branded as an antisemite.

Incidentally, CNN did the same thing today, with the article "Anti-Americanism in Europe deepens", where the implication is that opposition to the war isn't about opposition to the pro-war policies of the Bush administration, but is about hatred of Americans instead.

"Yet the current outbreak has new elements, including a demographic shift: In Britain, there are now more worshippers in mosques on Fridays than in Church of England churches on Sundays."

Thanks for that tasty bit of racism, CNN...
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:54 AM on February 18, 2003


Here's an interesting tidbit from the Telegraph:
M Chirac is walking a political tightrope at home, where public opinion is set against any military action not sanctioned by the UN and where an immigrant population of four million Muslims exercises an unspoken influence on policy.

Muslim youths in Paris and other cities are carrying out a low-level "intifada" against French authority, burning cars in nightly raids, mostly unreported in the national news. The risk of escalating violence is real.
posted by homunculus at 12:01 PM on February 18, 2003


Not that I disagree with your analysis of the article otherwise, but, for a fact, there are more Muslims here in the USA than there are Episcopalians. Am I a racist for saying this?
posted by y2karl at 12:02 PM on February 18, 2003


The truth about the clueless, indifferent war protesters
posted by ParisParamus at 12:05 PM on February 18, 2003


Since when were the right so concerned with human rights?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:08 PM on February 18, 2003


I had posted an article from an Arab source and only because I have heard so many silly remarks about why the French do not go along with us--after all, they "owe" us. Ha. French oil interests are often mentioned and French military history is mentioned. I thought this would add another dimension and give a more realistic understanding of the situation. It is not "arab bashing" and it merely states what at least one writer notes is fairly typical of politicians: they seek votes. And that, dear ones, is what democracy is all about.
Now if you want to bring in "the Jewish vote"--there are more Blacks, there are more Hispanics, and there are at least a equal number of Muslims in the US for politicians to cater to (or suck up to if you prefer) for votes. And that is what this democracy is all about.

I guess my interests are your troll.
Had I posted to the URL I posted, I would have asked why Germany, with substantially less of an Arab population, nonetheless also opposes a war with Iraq. But so thinking on a topic might detract from personal attacks.
posted by Postroad at 12:11 PM on February 18, 2003


The implication is that since they are Arabs, they are therefore hopelessly biased against the US and for the Iraqis.
Uh no, the implication is that they are more sympathetic to Arab issues. Which is accurate in the same way American Jewry is sympathetic to Israeli issues.
posted by PenDevil at 12:18 PM on February 18, 2003


"No chance the French could have a society sufficiently open, devoid of racism and with enough opportunity and social mobility that it's immigrants could be French first, and Arab immigrants second?"

Exsqueeze me?!

I see that you own lostsockland.com (now a dead site), which is registered to a Steven Rosenberg from Brooklyn. Any relation to either the Steven Rosenberg who is listed as a contact for the Baldwin Jewish Center, a Conservative synagogue on Long Island or perhaps to the Steven Rosenberg that writes articles for Jewsweek? Are you a citizen of Israel? Have you ever travelled to Israel? Have you ever participated in any Jewish organizations or attended any protests?

Now, perhaps you're offended at me accusing your loyalty to this country. If so, good, because no American should have their loyalty questioned based on their religion or ethnic background. Yes, people are biased and most have either concious or unconcious divided loyalties, but democracy is supposed to help balance that out.

Now that we have that clear, perhaps you'll support me in a general statement that no Arab American or, for that matter, Arab Frenchman should have his loyalties questioned either, right?!
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:21 PM on February 18, 2003


what just happened in this post is sort of an ironic microcosm of what's going on in the administration and american media.

while everyone is off grinding their axe on Postroad, ParisParamus brings up, seemingly out of nowhere, the highly self-defeating and trollish talking point that those who are against war and obviously in favor of hussein.

Postroad = Iraq, ParisParamus = North Korea. get it? get it?
posted by mcsweetie at 12:28 PM on February 18, 2003


Since when were the right so concerned with human rights?

In the first place, it's not just the American Right which will be behind taking out Saddam: it's clearly an American centrist position; one which has the backing of most of the House, and most of the Senate, and most Americans. The more salient question is: when has the Left done ANYTHING effective to further human rights in Iraq, or anywhere else? Where were the massive protests against Saddam Hussein all through the 1990's? Where was the support of the bombing of Libya, which has, at the very least, quieted Khadafi down? Where was the Left when Israel took out Iraq's French-built nuclear reactor? Where were the massive street protests against the Taliban?

The simple fact is that the core of the protesters would be against a war in Iraq 3, 6, 12 months from now. The core of the anti-war movement is people who would have been overrun by the Germans, or Soviets, and who have no idea how to defend themselves. A generation or two of Western Europeans have had no need to defend themselves (because the United States did so for them), and now rationalize this reality, this embarassment, by denying the existence of dangers and the need for war, and for calling the United States savage for continuing to be able to save Europe's ass.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:49 PM on February 18, 2003


The simple fact is that the core of the protesters would be against a war in Iraq 3, 6, 12 months from now.

But *not* against a coordinated program of assistance, trade and democracy-building via free market capitalism, designed as best as possible to strengthen the people of Iraq so they can overthrow Saddam for themselves. The idea that the only choices are a U.S.-led invasion or acquiescence to the whim of a tyrant is absurd, Paris.
posted by mediareport at 12:58 PM on February 18, 2003


Not to stick to the original link or anything, but I get the impression that most French of Arab descent are Moroccans or Algerians, wheras British citizens of Arab descent are, in large measure Iraqis.

We know that one such Iraqi's opinion influenced Blair. Is the opposition of French Arabs and Muslims to war in part because they aren't Iraqi and have little to gain from Saddam's ouster, perceiving it more in symbolic terms ala Palestine As Metaphor of a couple weeks ago?
posted by ednopantz at 1:00 PM on February 18, 2003


And once and for all, it's not about democracy. Now move along.
posted by donkeyschlong at 1:05 PM on February 18, 2003


Insomnia, to answer your questions, yes to Israel, no to the rest. And no to Conservative Judaism, which is, well, too conservative and traditional for my tastes. Also, Long Island is my personal vision of Hell.

I said nothing re loyalties as they apply specifically to Arabs, or anyone else, and it's disappointing that you would assume such.

What I meant was that, having lived there, it's clear that France is a HORRIBLE place, for anyone of Arab origin to be, or really, any immigrant: you're FOREVER a foreigner in France. In France, you are never really accepted as a "local." The result is that your ethnicity and country of origin remain what define you, and to side against said country is exceedingly unlikely.

Separately, it's pathetic how many people on Metafilter label any position or statement which deviates 1 degree from Leftwing as a "troll, etc."
posted by ParisParamus at 1:06 PM on February 18, 2003


But *not* against a coordinated program of assistance, trade and democracy-building via free market capitalism, designed as best as possible to strengthen the people of Iraq so they can overthrow Saddam for themselves.

Yes, that's the solution. How utterly farcical. Beyond belief.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:09 PM on February 18, 2003


another of postroad's patented pathetic attempts to troll. yawn.

Indeed. Troll away, Postroad. Troll away.

No more of a troll than the "refreshing read".
posted by Witty at 1:20 PM on February 18, 2003


the core of the protesters would be against a war in Iraq 3, 6, 12 months from now.

Who gives a shit what the core of the protesters think? The core is as significant as the grain of sand in a pearl. The majority of people out there weren't ANSWER dupes, they were moderates who are embarrassed of US policy.

I would support a war if I saw a shred of credible evidence that it was necessary, and the only way to overthrow Saddam Hussein. But I don't. I see an administration playing a dangerous, solitary game of realpolitik in an attempt to "stabilize" the region, against world opinion.
posted by condour75 at 1:24 PM on February 18, 2003


Witty: No more of a troll than the "refreshing read".

Which is also being called out as a troll, or at least a bad link (13 to 1 against so far, by folks from all over the "political compass").
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:26 PM on February 18, 2003


Interesting how most of the governments of most of Europe support the US. Where's the "solitary?" I would submit that the burden of proof you posit is in the realm of fantasy. Hussein has killed 1.5 milliion people. No coup against him in 30 years. You're waiting for Godot if you need more proof. I'm glad Washington doesn't subscribe to that approach.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:31 PM on February 18, 2003


And you thought it was only about French oil interests, but non.

Josh Marshall has another suspicion about possible German motives. If true, it might apply to France as well.

It makes me wonder what the US government knows about this, especially since these days they only seem to share information which serves their agenda.
posted by homunculus at 1:36 PM on February 18, 2003


Who gives a shit what the core of the protesters think?

It's vital. If you disagree with those leading a movement, something is wrong with the movement.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:40 PM on February 18, 2003


And once and for all, it's not about democracy. Now move along.

Not true. It's not about immediate democracy, but a gradual approach to bringing a democratic government to Iraq.
posted by Plunge at 1:41 PM on February 18, 2003


designed as best as possible to strengthen the people of Iraq so they can overthrow Saddam for themselves.

I'm guessing this requires violence at some point, right? (the people rebelling against Saddam's regime). What happens if Saddam just keeps crushing any rebellions?
posted by stifford at 1:47 PM on February 18, 2003


A little reminder amidst all the recent France-bashing: According to Coleen Rowley, within days of the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui in August of 2001, French Intelligence notified the FBI that Moussaoui was connected to al Qaeda. In spite of this information, FBI Headquarters refused Rowley's requests to seek a search warrant. If the French had been heeded, we might be in a very different situation today.

Oh well, even if we've fallen out with France, at least we have real friends in Qatar.
posted by homunculus at 1:53 PM on February 18, 2003


The left may not have been protesting the Taliban long before most Americans had ever heard of it, but liberals sure were talking plenty about it - and long before the right ever particularly cared.
posted by raysmj at 1:54 PM on February 18, 2003


What happens if Saddam just keeps crushing any rebellions?

Don't be silly, Saddam, and his sons won't be able to do that forever. Why? Because THE PEOPLE, UNITED, WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! So what if it takes 50, or 500 years, or until the oil runs out. What's a few dozen generations of torture and other depravities?

We cannot let the United States liberate Iraq because George Bush and Dick Cheney do not have pure hearts, and liberation of Iraq will just create another soul-less consumer society and another Disneyland. And that's certainly worse than torture, rape, 200,000 murders per-year, and the like. The US must pay for it's war crimes by allowing Hussein to commit his war crimes. We must not allow the US to free Iraq since it will make us Germans, and us Frenchmen look yet another degree impotent. The US and that God-fearing, cowboy Bush must be stopped now!
posted by ParisParamus at 2:18 PM on February 18, 2003


If you disagree with those leading a movement, something is wrong with the movement.

It's called disaggregated decision making. Key concept in capitalism. Check out mediareport's post. I don't agree with everything ANSWER says, they don't agree with me. The enemy of my enemy is NOT my friend. I don't like Saddam Hussein either. But I will not condone a preemptive strike without significant popular support and signifigant evidence. If I have to wait for Godot, then call me Vladimir.
posted by condour75 at 2:29 PM on February 18, 2003


a preemptive strike

That's fine, so long as you consider Iraq's failure to disarm, which was a condition for the cessation of hostilities in 1991 after its invasion of Kuwait, and the flouting of, what, 18 UN resolutions as not negating what you style as "preemptive."
posted by ParisParamus at 2:39 PM on February 18, 2003


Separately, it's pathetic how many people on Metafilter label any position or statement which deviates 1 degree from Leftwing as a "troll, etc."

You have a good point. I'm a member of the left and the MIFI manifesto pisses me off too. The left is about acceptance of difference and conducting debate to show people the error of the way; it's not about slamming people for their beliefs (I'd like to leave that for the right wing). I know because I've been slammed in the past for merely trying to get debate going or suggesting that people give our leaders and media the slightest benefit of the doubt or suggesting that we access facts instead of making uninformed statements. I've had MIFIs question my convictions for simplify begging to ask the question, rather than being a good soldier or conforming to correct beliefs. It's quite sickening. Further, if one does not completely hate religion, oppose every move Bush takes or does not think all corporations (along with all acts they take) are pure evil one some how is less of lefty and does not belong on MIFI. The debate about a war with Iraq is no different.
posted by Bag Man at 2:46 PM on February 18, 2003


I agree, Paramus. If the UN okays a war, I will support it, albeit reluctantly.
posted by condour75 at 2:47 PM on February 18, 2003


So, a veto by one Member and it's no go?
posted by ParisParamus at 3:01 PM on February 18, 2003


I think that's the rule. I wouldn't want to flout the UN. Then another country could justify preemptive force against us.
posted by condour75 at 3:02 PM on February 18, 2003


Actually, Condor, the administration isn't trying to stabilize the region, at least in the short run. Wolfowitz, Perle, and Haas have all made pretty clear that the consider stability the enemy. The Middle East is too stable, and that is the problem. It is stangant.

I would argue that it is a misperception that the Middle East is unstable. It is extremely stable, just unpleasant.
I can count on one hand the number of governments (outside Israel) that have changed hands in the last twenty years through anything but inheritance.

I would also note, for those of you who consider the UNSC to be an unimpeachable world court, that only ten of the 15 UNSC members can be considered democracies.
posted by ednopantz at 3:10 PM on February 18, 2003


Should the process be more democratic, or less, in your opinion, ednopantz?
posted by condour75 at 3:15 PM on February 18, 2003


More. Only democracies should be eligible for UNSC membership. I have basically no respect for the opinions of dictators. Do I care that Basar al-Asad will vote against ousting his fellow Ba'thist thug Saddam? No.

I would argue that only democracies possess soverignity. That prevents dictators from hiding behind the national soverignity defense.

Of course, there is a huge difference between a republican system and running a country by the polls. Blair, for example, is following a policy most of the voters don't like, demonstrating a great deal of political courage. I think he is right and the voters are wrong, and given time, they will come to realize this.
posted by ednopantz at 3:31 PM on February 18, 2003


Ok. Seeing this, I will revise my last statement. I will go along with whatever policy the 10 democratic members of the UNSC agree to.
posted by condour75 at 3:35 PM on February 18, 2003


There are 5 permanent and 10 "floating" SC Members, and democracy isn't a criterion for being one of them. I' would like to agree with the unanimity requirement, but it's too high a standard. Maybe 2/3rds or even 3/4rs.

But please, let's get beyond the falacy that the US is in the process of acting unilaterally.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:54 PM on February 18, 2003


So, a veto by one Member and it's no go?

If it's Israel, than that's the case for the US. The USA has used its veto 34 times when the UN has attempted to modulate Israel's outrageous behavior. Those being vetoed included many democracies.
posted by cell divide at 4:01 PM on February 18, 2003


But rules are rules, aren't they? Or is it ok to go against the UN on this, if push comes to shove? Because if it is ok, then this statement:

That's fine, so long as you consider Iraq's failure to disarm, which was a condition for the cessation of hostilities in 1991 after its invasion of Kuwait, and the flouting of, what, 18 UN resolutions as not negating what you style as "preemptive."

Well, what you've got there is a bit of a paradox. If you are going to break the rules of an organization, you really oughtn't be using their rules as a justification. It's a bit like going to the cops to report that someone stole your weed. That sort of thing earns "dumbass" tags in certain contexts.
posted by condour75 at 4:04 PM on February 18, 2003


Ednopantz; democracy is by no means a black-and-white definition. Some take democracy to mean a consensus, rather than a vote. Some countries, like Singapore, are democracies in name only - they're really one party states. And, after all, how many communist dictatorships describe themselves as "The People's Democratic Republic Of..."...

So who decide's what a democracy is? I think a more valid decider than the presence "democracy" might be whether or not the country exhibits full compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, very few countries actually do follow it to the letter!
posted by Jimbob at 4:23 PM on February 18, 2003


The truth about the clueless, indifferent war protesters

From a paper owned by Rupert Murdoch, who is on record at saying that a war which reduced oil prices to $20/barrel would be better than any tax cut. Hm.
posted by riviera at 4:23 PM on February 18, 2003


Well, condour75, your point is valid--to a point. Except that by voting and voting and voting that Iraq has done something wrong and then doing nothing about it--nothing effective, anyway--the UN has lost its legitimacy. So, I guess my position is that while UN votes may be probative of a nation's misconduct , and the sanctions such a country should face, they do not define misconduct in and of themselves. Just as circumstantial evidence may or may not demostrate that someone perpetrated a crime.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:23 PM on February 18, 2003


Looks like Chirac may have arrived at his Waterloo....
posted by ParisParamus at 4:32 PM on February 18, 2003


See, here's where I think I disagree with you most strongly, Paris. I really think the UN's indictments of Iraq should be seen as much more than probative. I think it should be seen as binding.
posted by condour75 at 4:43 PM on February 18, 2003


The UN wasn't set up to "bind." And, arrogance be damned, I'm not interested in being bound by an entity which includes most of the world's tyranical states. Call me arrogant, but that's the way I feel.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:57 PM on February 18, 2003


In the first place, it's not just the American Right which will be behind taking out Saddam: it's clearly an American centrist position;

american centre == global right
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:58 PM on February 18, 2003


In the last poll, 59% of Americans favored giving the UN more time. American center might be trending away from the bushies more than they know.
posted by condour75 at 5:07 PM on February 18, 2003


Well like i said, Paris, if you took the tyrannical states out of the equasion, would you agree to the binding?
posted by condour75 at 5:09 PM on February 18, 2003


now if only we could get some democrats with balls.
posted by condour75 at 5:11 PM on February 18, 2003


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