On the Other Hand...

by Jim Davies

Beware The French Nuclear Threat!


The French Government has had nuclear weapons for a third of a century, and has been out of NATO for a quarter of a century. Shouldn't we be worried?

I lived and worked in Paris for a year, and thanks to a modicum of schoolboy French did not feel quite as alienated as some Anglo-Saxons do. There is no doubt, though, that Francois in the street is exceeding hostile to what he may perceive as the "Ugly American."

Recently, a further cause for worry has arisen in the beautiful and formerly peaceful islands of Tahiti; the French Government ran a series of under-sea nuclear tests. Now, if they never intend to use such weapons, why would they do that? - what enemies do they have in mind?

It's hard to sleep at nights, I tell you. French national pride is enormously strong. It's even gotten into their cultural law; music may be played by DJs, and films may be shown in theaters, only if a certain quota consists of the Lingua Franca, the French Language. English entertainment is rationed. Gee, Affirmative Action has nothing on that, and neither have Perot and Buchanan with their protectionism. That's taking direct aim at Hollywood!

So far it's only trade and language they are taking aim at. Should we not worry that soon, they might take aim with something explosive? - maybe we should.

Maybe we should worry too about French wine. Who knows, they might be slowly spiking it with something that will undermine the American national will to resist. Perhaps we'd better stick with Chateau Californie.

This patriotism business - hey, the French even invented the word. And ever since 1870, that pride has been badly savaged. First the Germans cut off Paris (Paris!!) from the rest of the world. Then they marched in and took the North East, and could be beaten back only when other Anglo Saxons came to help. Then they took the whole of La France, installing their (spit, here) Vichy puppets in the South; and yet again, rescue had to come from the Anglos. Is there anything left, of La Gloire? - it certainly needs polishing up. How about a good war? That would do it!


Okay, you're right, not even motives like that would be strong enough to cause even the idea of waging war on America to cross a serious Frenchman's mind. There is ample opportunity; a French submarine could quietly slip into Boston Bay, an inflatable could remove the crew to safety, a timer could set off a nuke half a day later, and Poof! There goes Boston. But they won't.

The reason my scenario above is absurd is that there's no adequate motive, for such a shocking action. There is some rivalry and resentment here and there, but it's nowhere close to a cause of war. Recall: much of the thinking behind our own Revolution came from the French; they gave us military help while mounting it; most of all, perhaps, they so well understood the marvel of a society with the strictly limited government that we put in place, that they built and paid for the Statue of Liberty to celebrate that achievement.

So, what's my point? - just this, and it's not hard: the threat of war comes not from the possession of weapons, but from a motive to use them. There is no French nuclear threat, not because that government is not capable of wreaking an appalling amount of havoc, but because it has no reason to. Now let's extend that simple yet profound principle to nations other than France.

True Defense

There's no harm in "carrying a big stick", though I see no reason why it should be carried by the government; better, surely, if The Stick consisted actually of a hundred million small sticks, all ready to hit any who would dare invade and violate our individual freedoms - rather like the Swiss do, only better. But the first and powerful line of defense for our society should be to provide no reason for any potential enemy to attack us.

Now, while the Founders understood that well (Jefferson's "friendship and trade with all, alliances with none") that very simple principle has been trampled on by all our national "leaders" for at least the whole of this century. They have spent most of their waking hours provoking enemies the world over. One day, perhaps soon, this will come back to haunt us - yes, with nukes and all.

Count them: there has been not a single defensive war since 1812. No, Pearl Harbor is NOT an exception; Pearl was deliberately provoked eight months earlier by FDR's Navy embargo on Japanese oil. So not one single US war since 1812 was initiated by any other than the US government!

One day, Iraq and Libya are going to get nukes; and Arab memories are long. Before 1990, no Iraqi had much reason to hate America; now, they have no shortage of reasons. Before our CIA installed the Shah, no Iranian had one either; now, they too will not soon forget his secret police. Every time the US government intervenes abroad, it makes us a new enemy. It is using our dollars (three thousand of them every year, from every family) to scatter motives to attack us at some future time, around the world like confetti; and to add insult to gross injury, they call this activity "defense"!

Here's what to do. This is not a situation out of control, for control is no further away than the nearest polling booth. When next you vote, make sure you vote only for candidates who solemnly swear they will take a meat ax to the military and reduce it (by, say, 90%) to a size no bigger than what might be needed for strict and actual defense of these United States, provoking nobody. That's all they are entitled to do under the Constitution, after all.

One day, it may be that Democrat or Republican candidates will be ready to make such a promise. For now, however, only one group does: the Libertarians.

Back to Subject Index