Chris Harman's analysis of the strategy of the US ruling class can help explain the recent vitriol directed at the French (April SR).
It was noticeable that the likes of Richard Perle led the charge in attacking France, opening the gates to a flood of abuse in the US media, but also drawing in the British press (not too difficult a task), who were soon slavishly followed by the Blairites.
Opening up this sort of rift between Britain and the rest of Europe plays directly into the hands of those Washington hawks who are concerned about the emergence of Europe as a more coherent superpower. Many British companies have already acted on the clear indications that were given by Blair that there might have been a referendum on the euro in the spring of this year. This means they have spent millions of pounds on economic monetary union projects, which have concentrated on making major changes to computer systems in order to allow a smooth conversion to the euro. Of course the war, and Blair's lack of popular support for it, has put paid to any notion that a successful euro referendum could take place in the near future.
It is ironic that Blair, who is one of the most pro-European members of the cabinet, has been one of the most gung-ho supporters of Bush's invasion, and also that he has allowed US hawks to create clear divisions between different European states, not just over Iraq, but also within Nato. Clearly, US strategists are not only doubtful about whether or not a united Europe can be a success, they are also actively involved in trying to undermine the European project.
One obvious reason for this is demonstrated by the suggested threat from the oil-producing Opec countries to switch from trading in dollars to trading in the euro (significantly, a switch which Iraq had already made). This would certainly be a blow to the US, but also a major boost to the euro, and if this scenario was to be coupled with the possibility of Britain (with an important sterling sector) successfully joining the euro zone, the paranoia of certain US strategists doesn't appear to be quite as mad as it first looks. Neither is it impossible to see how a more serious conflict between the major western powers could arise if these sorts of tensions continued to develop in this way.