I was talking to Dr Longley yesterday and the conversation, unavoidably, came round to the war. “I was on the fence”, he said, “until the bloody French pushed me off. Now I think that anything that gets rid of Saddam is a good thing; and they can get rid of every other nasty little dictator if they want to.”
I had a small moment of revelation. I too was on the fence until pushed off; but I was pushed off in the other direction, by the neocons. Don’t get me wrong about the French. I grew up in a diplomatic family. My parents spoke French in front of me for years, when they didn’t want to be understood. So I have known almost since I could talk that the chief aim of British foreign policy must always be to find out what the French are up to and stop them. But I am more frightened and more disgusted by Richard Perle than by Jacques Chirac.
It is humiliating to admit that this is how we make our minds up on great matters of state. It’s also realistic. Britain has no independent course and let’s not pretend otherwise. In fact, my question is whether anyone in this country made up their minds by attraction rather than repulsion? Very few, I’d think, and almost none of the opponents of the war.