France today appears to be a tale of two Bills: Bill de Blasio at home, Bill Kristol abroad.
Domestically, the government of Francois Hollande is suicidally socialist. Internationally, it is aggressively interventionist. The only problem is that these two policy orientations cannot exist together indefinitely.
We saw France’s “Kristolian” foreign policy on display over the weekend when the French foreign minister, according to most reports, heroically scuttled a deal between the West and Iran that his government thought was too much of a capitulation to the Islamic Republic. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius explained that his country would not be party to a “fool’s game” of a deal that would do little to slow down Iran’s nuclear weapons quest.
But France’s interventionism does not begin and end with Iran. France stood ready to participate in a U.S. military operation against Syria to punish the Assad regime for its use of chemical weapons. And in Mali, France intervened alone at the beginning of 2013 to disrupt the al Qaida sanctuary that was developing in the north of the country.
Perhaps France’s foreign policy would have been different if the countries in question were not Mali and Syria, both former French possessions. But Iran was never a French colony and the French government’s recent stand against the disaster of a nuclear deal the West was negotiating prompted conservatives in the U.S. to cheer.
“Tonight I’m eating FRENCH fries,” conservative foreign policy commentator Ric Grenell tweeted.
“Thank God for France,” South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham declared on CNN. “The French are becoming very good leaders in the Mideast.”
France’s aggressive interventionism is coupled with a criminally stupid socialist economic policy, however.
Per his campaign promise, Hollande tried to institute a 75 percent tax on the rich, but the proposal was ruled unconstitutional by France’s constitutional council — though not before it sparked some of French’s rich to flee the country for friendlier ground abroad. Hollande regrouped and is now proposing to levy the 75 percent tax on companies who pay salaries of more than 1 million euros (roughly $1.3 million).
Whatever way you slice it, Hollande’s message is clear: France is not open for business. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, of course. The French president once openly proclaimed on TV, “I hate the rich.”
It is hard to imagine how a de Blasio economic policy and a Kristol foreign policy can continue to co-exist much longer. France’s economy is already in tatters and Hollande’s policies will only make a bad situation worse. France isn’t exactly a mighty military superpower when its economy is booming — it must be much less so if its economy continues to crater.
France may be becoming a Zimbabwe — okay, perhaps I exaggerate a bit — but as long as it is able to stand in the way of terrible nuclear deals with Iran, conservatives should be proud to proclaim, “Vive la France!”