It’s a bad day for Jacques Chirac. Not only is he the butt of jokes for every late-night comedian in American, but he has to beg those arrogant Anglo-Saxons for a phone call to Bush.
Before the call could be arranged, Jean-David Levitte, the French ambassador to Washington, had to lobby Karl Rove, Mr Bush’s chief political strategist, and Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser, at the White House.
Final American agreement to the call was secured only after discussions on Monday between Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, and Dominique de Villepin, the French foreign minister.
I can’t imagine a very warm reception for Chirac.
The anger towards France is deeper and more pervasive. French firms have suffered a loss of income from cancelled American orders and officials argue that the successful French attempt to scupper a second United Nations resolution extended far beyond M Chirac.
What the French have consistent failed to realize is that the US represents the world’s largest market and we’re not ones to easily forget shoddy treatment. While American tourists might put up with snotty French waiters in Paris, we’re not going to forget the shameful grandstanding of Dominique de Villepin on the floor of the UN Security Council. Even if there are no formal repercussions, the ire of the American street is more than enough to sink the French economy even more. Many people are switching from French wines to (equally good) Australian and Italian wines. People are voluntarily boycotting French products in protest of French actions.
This is more than just the symbolism of renaming "french fries" to "freedom fries." Come tourist season, it may be a real slap in the face to the Chirac government when the "arrogant Americans" decide to take their money elsewhere.