France: the myth and the reality
France carefully manages its public image to seem all post-modern and caring and cooperative, but in reality pursues one of the most hard-nosed campaigns of self-interest the world has ever seen. As Mark says (writing before the Iraq campaign, remember):
Let's say Saddam has long-range WMDs. If he nuked Montpelier (Vermont), M. Chirac would insist that Bush needed to get a strong Security Council resolution before responding. If he nuked Montpellier (France), Iraq would be a crater by lunchtime.
And that's really the point. France is all for multilateralism (especially if it means being able to oppose America) but not if it harms France in any way. Consider the following: France Secretly Cooperating in War on Terror. Bash the Yanks in public, sure, but make certain France gets all the information it needs to take out the terrorists in its own country.
Daniel Pipes has pointed out that "France accords terrorist suspects fewer rights than any other Western state, permitting interrogation without a lawyer, lengthy pre-trial incarcerations, and evidence acquired under dubious circumstances" (Weak Brits, Tough French). While Britain has allowed itself to become “easily the most important jihadist hub in Western Europe”, French intelligence agencies were sharing information with the CIA, as if they were one service, days after 9/11.
While the earnest twits in the British Government fell over themselves to live up to Europe's ludicrous asylum laws, France was dumping its refugees a stone's throw from the Channel Tunnel, probably with instructions on how to jump on a train to England.
France was among the first to pledge large amounts of aid after the tsunami, while one of the last to actually send any (waiting for the Byzantine UN bureaucracy to work its way through its endless committees to decide what to do helped a lot there) while America just sent stuff out (and was roundly criticised for acting "unilaterally" and "undermining the UN": score more points for France!)
And so on. France shows a false front to the shallow world media, but behind it does what she wants. America acts as forthrightly as France, but doesn't hide it. Britain tries to live up to the false image France is presenting, and ends up a terrorist hub. Londoners pay the price.