PARIS (IPS)–Intellectuals are throwing their support to the political and popular French opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq.

In new debates, books and columns, French analysts are going back to the days before Sept. 11, 2001 to recall U.S. interventions from Guatemala to Vietnam to Chile and beyond.

Historian Christine Durandin argues in “La CIA en Guerre” (The CIA at War) that the U.S. secret services intervened in all Latin American countries since the 1950s and that “everywhere these interventions prepared the way for brutal military dictatorships.”


The interventions never led to “nation building”, Ms. Durandin said, challenging U.S. claims that its “war against terrorism” can build modern, democratic societies in the Arab world.

Ms. Durandin’s book has become a bestseller. The first edition published in March sold out early.

Other books are looking at the background of many U.S. leaders, particularly the Bush family.

Prize-winning investigative journalist Eric Laurent looks at the dealings of the Bush family since the 1930s in “La Guerre de Bush” (Bush’s War). Mr. Laurent digs up the family’s connections to Nazi industries in Germany and with Saudi Arabian business houses accused of financing Islamic terrorist groups. The Bush family “dined with the devil,” Mr. Laurent says.

Based on his investigations and on material published in the United States, he says President George Bush’s grandfather, Sen. Prescott Bush, was a banker who invested in industries rearming Germany under the Nazis.

Mr. Laurent says that in 1942 the U.S. government placed sanctions on four companies of the Bush family for their Nazi dealings–the Union Banking Corporation, the Holland-American Trading Corporation, the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation, and the Silesian-American Corporation.

President Bush’s father and former President George Bush, the father, he says, did business with the family of Osama bin Laden for 20 years, much of it through the Carlyle Group, a powerful investment company.

The Halliburton enterprise in Texas, a leading provider of engineering services, has been a partner of Mr. bin Laden’s associates since 1994, Mr. Laurent says. Halliburton’s CEO until the end of 2000 was Dick Cheney, now U.S. vice president.

In the late eighties, Saudi Arabian banker Khalid bin Mafouz, Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law and main share owner of the now defunct and disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), saved one of the present President George Bush’s several unsuccessful oil enterprises from insolvency, Mr. Laurent says.

Other new books foresee the demise of the U.S. Empire. Emmanuel Todd’s “Après l’empire” (After the Empire) looks at what the author calls the “decomposition of American hegemony.”

Mr. Todd, a renowned social scientist who predicted the end of the Soviet Union in the late seventies, bases his conclusions on the U.S. dependency on foreign capital. Mr. Todd says U.S. commercial deficit more than quadrupled during the 1990s.

“In the period from 1973 to 2000, during which the United States enjoyed its longest economic expansion, the commercial deficit went up from $100 billion to $450 billion,” Mr. Todd says.

“To pay for this deficit, the U.S. needs to keep importing foreign capital,” he says. “If this capital flow were to stop, the U.S. economy would collapse. Despite the repeated claims about U.S. power, the truth is that this country is both a beggar and predator. This cannot last very long.”

Mr. Todd says U.S. militarism is nothing more than “fuss” aimed to impress the world. “When you think that the U.S. government only dares to wage war against military gnomes such as Iraq, you have to realize that the whole thing is only to pretend that they are mighty.”

Mr. Todd says the U.S. isolation in its war plans against Iraq is an indicator that the world has begun to see the U.S. decline as a superpower. “The fact that Germany, for the first time since World War II, has dared oppose a U.S. military project especially shows this awareness.”

Bernard Henri Lévy, sometimes reviled as the “jet-set philosopher” who supported U.S. military action in Somalia, Serbia, and most recently Afghanistan, now opposes the war on Iraq.

“Saddam Hussein is certainly one of the most brutal dictators of our days,” Mr. Lévy says. “But he doesn’t represent a danger for the West. A real danger is Pakistan, a dictatorship with clear links to Islamic terrorism, and which has the nuclear bomb. Rather than attacking Iraq, the U.S. should worry about Pakistan. Instead, Washington sees Pakistan as an ally.”