Monday, June 14, 2004

Bush's June 6 Forever! by Pierre Marion

The Saturday before last, I blogged French commentary on the occasion of the ceremonies to mark the 60th anniversary of the D-Day Landings. I noticed two countervailing forces at work: a tendency to accentuate American flaws and to forgive German crimes. I also noticed that this took place in a climate of unprecedented anti-American feeling and unprecedented mutual affection between France and Germany, points all supported by opinion polls.

One François Heisbourg, director of the Strategic Research Foundation, published an essay on June 4, accusing the US of an "extraordinary combination of narrow-minded activism and infinite incompetence" which he said would ultimately provoke a WMD attack on European soil, the collapse of Middle-Eastern governments and nothing short of the complete failure of world peace.

On the 10th, Heisbourg's essay got an answer from Pierre Marion, head of France's Spy Agency, the Central External Security Directorate (DGSE), under François Mitterrand and author of a book called "Shadow Memoirs" that appears particularly intriguing.

Marion wrote:
LE MONDE | 10.06.04 | 13h50

The viewpoint by François Heisbourg, "Damning June 6 2004" (Le Monde of June 5), was particularly unwelcome on the day before the Landings ceremonies that underscored a bond between the nations which contributed to the landings of June 6 1944, from which a heavy majority of the losses were American.

In my view, nothing seems to justify the terms that Mr. Heisbourg uses to describe president Bush, who was treated with honor during the ceremonies on the beaches of the Landings. One can imagine the reaction of the French if their president had been described with similarly careless rhetoric.

We can clearly see what is meant by the author when he speaks of the Americans' "loss of control." It is the stance taken by the United States, but also by the United Kingdom, on the necessity of a military intervention against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. It will not be unhelpful to recall their causes of action.

Who declared war on Iran in 1980 and waged a six-year [sic] conflict, causing numerous deaths, sometimes through the use of chemical weapons ordered by Saddam? Who exterminated nearly 100,000 of his citizens, gassing, among others, 5,000 Kurds, including women and children? Who provoked the exodus of 2 million persecuted Kurds? Who practiced the assassination of exiled dissidents, of an Israeli ambassador, not to mention the attempt on the life of a former US president? Who invaded Kuwait in 1990 before being expelled by a Western alliance led by the US? Who then made hundreds of Kuwaiti, Saudi, Syrian, Lebanese and Egyptian prisoners vanish? Who practiced summary execution, mutilation and the rape of women by his own nationals? Who bombed Israel with Scud missiles? Who flouted all decisions taken by the UN up to 1997, to the point of forcing UN inspectors to cease operations?

Given this situation, and Saddam Hussein's proven desire to pursue his dictatorial machinations and lies, it became clear that promoting a determined action toward democracy in the Middle East was impossible.

The matter, submitted for consideration by the United Nations Security Council, could not be settled, particularly due to French opposition.

The United States and the United Kingdom then decided to intervene in Iraq unilaterally. Saddam Hussein was unseated and jailed by the two intervening states. Clashes occurred, costing the lives of a thousand American and British soldiers. A clarification of political matters is underway.

One may of course regret that the saving intervention was undertaken with United Nations blessing. But the essential fact has been the initiation of positive change in Iraqi governance along with the subsequent changes in the rest of the region.

The French position now allows us to accommodate the British and American action and one can foresee a political reorganization of the current situation and a clarification of the Iraqi situation, creating the possibility of positive change in the middle east in the face of the threat of terrorism.

The Franco-American rapprochement during the Landings ceremonies allows one to imagine a favorable resolution accepted by interested governments.

Pierre Marion is former director of the DGSE.


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