Why Chirac Did It
Interesting discussion over at asymmetrical information on the motives behind France's opposition to our Iraq policy
Read the comments... there are a lot of ideas brewing there.
My two cents:
1) Old Europe has more continuity in its governing class than does the US. Their national leaders tend to share similar outlooks and personalities. This led Chirac to underestimate Bush 43's resolve compared to Clinton or Bush '41.
2. Institutions versus sentiments. France stirred up ill will in the US and "new Europe" rose in our esteem. But two years from now America will forget who was with us and who was not. France knows she will still be in charge of the institutions of the EU.