13 February 2004

When the French were still our allies

In opening a long talk offering a calm voice of reason about our current foreign policy insanity, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's National Security Advisor, tells an amazing story.
40 years ago, almost to the day, an important Presidential emissary was sent abroad by a beleaguered President of the United States. The United States was facing the prospect of nuclear war. These were the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Several emissaries went to our principal allies. One of them was a tough-minded former Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, whose mission was to brief President De Gaulle and to solicit French support in what could be a nuclear war involving not just the United States and the Soviet Union but the entire NATO Alliance and the Warsaw Pact.

The former Secretary of State briefed the French President and then said to him at the end of the briefing, "I would now like to show you the evidence, the photographs that we have of Soviet missiles armed with nuclear weapons." The French President responded by saying, "I do not wish to see the photographs. The word of the President of the United States is good enough for me. Please tell him that France stands with America."

Would any foreign leader today react the same way to an American emissary who would go abroad and say that country X is armed with weapons of mass destruction which threaten the United States? There's food for thought in that question.