France will help — for a price

France seems to be the red-headed stepchild of the international community lately. Its stance on the war in Iraq has been widely publicized and criticized, making it one of the countries America and Great Britain are frowning upon as U.S. and English soldiers die in desert attacks.

However, despite President Jacques Chirac’s adamant protest of the war, it seems the French know a change is coming. Now, French officials are in the process of creating proposals aimed at securing French businesses a piece of the Iraqi pie once the war ends and the rebuilding begins. The proposals France is working on address access to the oil industry and rebuilding contracts, two areas that will be highly contested and lucrative once the war is over.

France needs to decide whose side it’s on. While it is more than acceptable to sit out a conflict, alá Switzerland during World War II, it is hypocritical to expect something from the battle once it’s over. The French need to make a choice — are they for the war, against the war or completely neutral?

It seems the French sitting out the war has more to do with sticking it to the United States as opposed to keeping Saddam Hussein in power. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be jockeying for position once the conflict comes to an end.

There is no denying that the struggle to rebuild Iraq, once Hussein is out of power, will require quite a bit of cooperation among a majority of countries.

France may be needed in Iraq following the war. There is a very good chance the United States, Great Britain or even the United Nations could ask France to dump some money into the Iraqi pot and work out some kind of reciprocal relationship. But trying to sneak in early, while other countries, such as United States are busy fighting a war, is dirty pool.