The French backed down today at the U.N., but only by a little bit.

Jacques Chirac (search) gave a speech in which he blasted the U.S. — without naming us — for President Bush's very nearly unilateral decision to invade Iraq. He listed off a string of wonderful things that come from multilateralism, and said that big decisions like war should be decided by the world body and it alone.

It was the same old French stuff...

In the back rooms of the U.N., Chirac ratcheted back the rhetoric to agree that the U.S. timetable for Iraqi sovereignty was closer to reality than that of his own deputy — Foreign Minister Domique de Villepin (search).

The really remarkable thing about this is the amazing flip-flops of convenience the French have made regarding the U.N.

The sainted French leader, General and President Charles de Gaulle (search) had little use for the U.N.

He said, "It goes without saying, that under no circumstances will France accept that a collection of more or less totalitarian states and past masters of dictatorship and newly invented states... should dictate the law to it."

So what happened to the French leaders of today? Why are they bending their knee to the U.N., to the past masters of dictatorship and newly invented states?

Because in this case, it benefits them as they continue to oppose the U.S.

It is the U.S. and President Bush who are following in de Gaulle's footsteps. It is the French who have wandered off somewhere into some dreamland in which they hope to run the world, chasing glories of the past through the U.N.

That's My Word.

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