NATO has struck in Iraq. Or, more precisely, two French Rafale warplanes bombed a storage depot in northern Iraq believed to be used by ISIS. Washington cheered the French attack as the first wave of NATO military operations against the new enemy du jour, ISIS or the Islamic State. French president Francois Hollande, whose abysmal popularity ratings are now lower than Robespierre’s, butcher of the French Revolution, was elated by his show of machismo even if French voters were not. What the French were really doing, of course, was show-casing their new Rafale fighter. There’s nothing like bombing Arabs to sell military hardware, as Israel has long shown. Paris has been desperately trying to sell the Rafale, which is a very capable aircraft, to the Gulf Emirates, Saudi Arabia and India. Delhi signed an order for 126 Rafales in 2012 but has yet to implement it. India knows France is desperate to sell Rafales and has been torturing the French with endless bureaucratic and contract delays while it tries to haggle down the price and improve co-production terms. Two Rafales hardly mean full-scale NATO intervention in Iraq. Washington has been pressing NATO for decades to act as its gendarme in the Mideast. However, Europeans have been very reluctant to wade into the swamp of Mideast affairs or act as Washington’s native troops the way the Indian Army served the military needs of the British Empire. As the late Bavarian leader Franz Josef Strauss pithily put it, ‘we refuse to be foot soldiers for the American atomic knights.’
This post was published at Ron Paul Institute on sunday september 21, 2014.