After years of accepting anti-Americanism as the price of global greatness, Americans are beginning to snap back at our nation's global critics.

You can't get on the Internet without running into jokes about the French. My favorite: Going to war without France is like going hunting without an accordion.

There's a serious basis for all this abuse. The leaders of France and Germany have become deeply silly people. They oppose military action against Saddam Hussein, even though they concede that Saddam possesses vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons, and lusts for nukes; that he has begun spreading his toxins globally through Al Qaeda and other vendors of terror; that Saddam has killed hundreds of thousands of his own and that he has organized a torture-medical research program worthy of Dr. Mengele.

They oppose force because they want the international community to handle the mess. This would be the same international community that averted its gaze from Hitler's death camps and Stalin's gulags, and now, through the U-N, winks at atrocities worldwide and places terrorist states in charge of human-rights and weapons-monitoring programs.

A telling difference separates the U.S. and the Berlin-Paris axis. Americans on the left and right believe morals matter and that foreign policy should not serve merely economic and territorial ends.

The German and French positions, in contrast, proceed from expediency. Germany has supplied the hardware for much of Saddam's bio-chem weapons program, and the French position on Iraq is all about oil: French companies reportedly have $60 billion worth of clandestine oil contracts with Saddam Hussein.

As for the allegation that our government is acting as a unilateralist cowboy, consider this: At last count, 18 European nations supported the Bush administration, with Germany, France and Belgium -- Belgium! -- opposing.

While we're conducting a serious debate about war and peace, our old buds in Paris and Berlin -- behaving more like Monty Python caricatures than statesmen -- are trying to cover their derrieres, and they aren't succeeding.