Were They Wrong?

In a semi-apologia for backing the Iraq Invasion titled Were We Wrong?, The New Republic editors write

But saying he was a threat does not mean he was a threat urgent enough to require war. We lack John Kerry’s confidence that waiting to confront Iraq would have produced a broader coalition for attack. France, Russia, and China would likely always have feared a U.S. beachhead in the Arab world more than they feared Saddam. But waiting to confront Iraq would have allowed the United States to confront more immediate dangers. In late 2002, Al Qaeda was regrouping in southern Afghanistan and launching a campaign to destabilize not only the government in Kabul, but also the nuclear-armed government in Islamabad. In Iran, evidence was mounting that a regime with far closer terrorist ties than Saddam’s, really was trying to build a nuclear bomb. In North Korea, a regime with a record of trading nuclear secrets, was building several.

The claim in boldface seems a bit dubious. Does France, like Russia and China, “fear a US beachead in the Arab world?” While France had historical problems with Algeria and is generally more pro-Palestinian than the US, unlike Russia and China they have no border with a primarily Arabic Muslim nation. Also, France is a NATO member and, freedom fries and related incidents notwithstanding, is an ally of the US. And what precisely does France have to fear from a US beachead in the Middle East, anyway?

Next question: when will the New Republic apoligize for endorsing Joe Lieberman?