The Arrogance Of Jacques Chirac

Jacques Chirac continues to amaze by being one of the most haughtily arrogant world leaders who have ever strutted across the world stage. His latest comments to Prime Minister Blair of the UK show the depths of his personal arrogance and the way France’s foreign policy is based on pure cynicism:

M Chirac, speaking to British journalists, including The Times, soon after General Powell’s announcement, revealed that he had urged Mr Blair to demand the relaunch of the Middle East peace process in return for backing the war.

“Well, Britain gave its support but I did not see anything in return. I’m not sure it is in the nature of our American friends at the moment to return favours systematically.”

In other remarks that will sting the Bush Administration, he again outlined his vision of a “multipolar” world in which a united Europe would be equal with the US, and mocked Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, for his division of Europe into old and new.

M Chirac said that there would be no division between Britain and France.

“It is like that nice guy in America — what’s his name again? — who spoke about ‘old Europe’. It has no sense. It’s a lack of culture to imagine that. Imagining that there can be division between the British and French vision of Europe is as absurd as imagining that we are building Europe against the United States.”

Either M Chirac is a blithering idiot or deliberately disingenous. First of all, there is a huge division between the British and French vision of Europe. The UK has wisely chosen to remain at arms length from the EU, and the fact that Chirac is arrogant and presumptively trying to speak for Prime Minister Blair isn’t going to help matters. The pound sterling remains strong, and Westminster isn’t in much of a hurry to allow the Brussels beaucracy to run the affairs of the United Kingdom. Blair has been an advocate of further EU integration, but he knows quite well that if the price of integration into that “united Europe” is to subject the UK to the whims of the Franco-German axis that is trying to knowtow the rest of Europe into towing their party line, he’s not going to play along. Indeed, Euro-skepticism is on the rise across Europe, and Chirac’s personal arrogance and bullying tactics have helped stoked those fires.

Furthermore, the cynicism of France’s foreign policy can clearly be seen in Chirac’s statements. Has M Chirac ever considered that perhaps the UK went along in Iraq because of the belief that Saddam Hussein posed a threat and that the cause of democracy was just, rather than cynically wanting something back in return? Indeed, Prime Minister Blair has been absolutely steadfast in his desire to see Iraq become a free and democratic state despite great personal risk to himself. What Chirac fails to understand is that there is such a thing as character and standing up for one’s beliefs – something that he apparently lacks.

Furthermore, Chirac is hardly in the position to lecture anyone on foreign policy given the disastrous situation that France faces in the Ivory Coast:

Indeed, a letter from a resident of the Paris region to the editor of the French daily “Le Figaro” says, “France is doing in the Ivory Coast what we reproach the Americans for doing.” It is, the writer says “none other than the unilateralism which we denounce (in Iraq), but of course France loves to give lectures to others.”

All that’s missing would be for France to ask for American troops to help it overthrow the government of the Ivory Coast, and the irony would be complete. But President Chirac, of course, will not ask for help, even if the lives of thousands of French expatriates in the Ivory Coast are at risk. That part of West Africa is France’s traditional area of influence: former colonies that France maintained within its system of military and economic control after granting them independence.

If rebels threaten a leader of one of the former French colonies who is considered to be a “friend of France”, the Foreign Legion is there to help prop him up. Or if the leader of one of the former colonies appears to threaten French economic interests there, France can arrange to remove him.

If America were to be like the French we would arrogantly demand that all French troops be removed to be replaced with United Nations troops, and that the terrorists murdering French citizens across the country be treated like a legitimate actor. Of course, we’re not so cynical and have supported the actions of the French to restore order in that country.

I’m starting to agree with those who argue that France is America’s oldest enemy. Certainly towards the cause of European harmony and peace in Iraq the cynical actions of the French go against the principles of diplomacy and democracy. If I were Prime Minister Blair and Chirac asked me what the UK gets in return for its support in Iraq I would respond by reminding M Chirac that 50 years ago it was the United States who sacrificed tens of thousands of lives to free Europe from tyranny, gave billions in aid to rebuild Europe, and fought the Cold War on behalf of Europe. For all Chirac’s talk about how America shows a “lack of culture” Chirac seems to have forgotten the recent history of his own country.

4 thoughts on “The Arrogance Of Jacques Chirac

  1. I don’t know why we’re so mad or frustrated by the arrogance of Chirac ‘Le Bulldozer!’ Let’s face it, France is just another little ethnocentric european has-been empire fighting relegation to global mediocrity. Shouldn’t their whining and tantrums be expected!

  2. I agree with the principle of what you are saying overall about Chirac and company, but isn’t it a tad bit of a double standard to criticize France for mocking Rumsfeld when they are only firing back at him for his verbal assualts on them? Please don’t tell me that Rumsfeld should be allowed to dish it out, but not take any back. In my eyes Rumsfeld is a very forgettable person, much like Chirac.

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