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Say What You Will--the French Followed the Rules

In John Rossant's review of Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order ("Continental drift," Books, Apr. 21) and in Bruce Nussbaum's commentary "Building a new multilateral world" ("America and the world," Cover Story, Apr. 21), you note that France sends its troops to Africa to protect its economic interests. In both cases, you suggest moral equivalence or worse on the part of France. Yet there is a substantial legal -- and moral -- difference.

French troops are sent under bilateral agreements, which is permissible under international law and recognized under the post-World War II system. In the case of Iraq, no authority -- not Iraq, the U.N., or any injured party -- and no custom of international law gave sanction to the U.S. invasion, and now the occupation, of Iraq.

The French may please neither President Bush nor BusinessWeek, but they were correct about the niceties of procedure.

Abdulkader Thomas

McLean, Va.

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