In addition to Victor Davis Hanson’s essay on the prospects for the Bush doctrine, the May issue of Commentary also features David Pryce-Jones’s important “special report”: “Jews, Arabs and French Diplomacy.” Given Pryce-Jones’s earlier books on the Nazi occupation of France as well as on Arab culture, Pryce-Jones is one of the few political analysts now writing who has the professional background to produce this important report. The author’s tag notes that the essay is based on documents from the public archives of the French foreign ministry, translated by Pryce-Jones.
Pryce-Jones’s long essay concludes:
France today lacks the resources and the influence either to supplant the United States or to enlist the Arab world in its camp, to create a Palestinian state, or to dismantle Israel. Moreover, its nuisance value has rebounded on itself. Its chosen instruments, Saddam Hussein and Arafat, both proved untrustworthy: support for the former was evidently related to French profiteering from the UN oil-for-food scam, which dwarfed the corruption even of the Mitterrand era, and support for the latter had roots in obscure deals, protection rackets, and emotional anti-Americanism.
In the Middle East, France has forfeited whatever leverage it might once have enjoyed. At home, meanwhile, it has had to come to terms with a growing Arab underclass, one whose resentments and tendencies to violence have been whipped up in no small part by the inflexible hostility displayed by the French state to Jewish self-determination. The pursuit of une puissance musulmane, fitting Arabs and Jews into a grand design on French terms, has evidently been an intellectual illusion all along, and highly dangerous to the interests of everyone concerned.
Don’t miss this one.