Washington waits for the French vote of May 29 with much more interest and concern than what many expect in France. The matter has become a priority with the announcement, on one hand, of a possible victory of the “no” and, on the other, due to the important division within the Bush Administration between neoconservatives and realists.
The “no” is impatiently awaited for the neoconservatives who thus expect to prove that Europe must not be taken into account and France is the driving force of its self-destruction. For the realists who support Condoleezza Rice, the “no” would not be welcomed in a moment in which they wish a rapprochement with Europe and its involvement in the democratization of the Middle East. Would the European Union succumb to the nihilism in a moment in which opening signs from Washington are evident? This transatlantic perspective of the French referendum is just a simple element of a much more complex reality. If France votes “no” on May 29, Europe would become weaker in the world and France would be weaker in Europe.
How would the countries which see in Europe the model for their own regional integration react? A “no” would affect Europe and the euro’s international credibility. In addition, a French “no” after a German “yes” would provoke a Franco-German divorce which would damage the European Union. In a globalized world where history is being made just before our own eyes in Asia and the Middle East, can France afford to have a crisis? France might commit a suicide on May 29.

International Herald Tribune (France)
The International Herald Tribune is a version of the New York Times adapted for the European public. It works in direct association with Haaretz (Israel), Kathimerini (Greece), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), JoongAng Daily (South Korea), Asahi Shimbun (Japan), The Daily Star (Lebanon) and El País (Spain). It also works, through its head office, in indirect association with Le Monde (France).

" Why the French vote matters to Washington ", by Dominique Moisi, International Herald Tribune, May 4, 2005.