Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that Bush is "not angry" with France and that, in an interview to be published to-morrow in Paris-Match, the President says he was "never angry with France." He goes on to say, "I made a difficult decision and not everyone agreed with this decision (to make war in Iraq, — Ed.). But I understand this. To-day, it is time to work together and to promote the values in which we believe. Human rights, human dignity and the rule of law, of freedom and justice." Bush also says that Omaha Beach (Vierville-sur-mer, Saint-Laurent, Colleville) "is the very symbol of the work accomplished together in the name of the values that unite us. This is an interesting time in history to travel to Omaha."
Asked if Chirac will be invited to the Crawford ranch, Bush replied, "If he wants to come see the cows, he's welcome. He can come see the cows."
I am no fan of Bush but I think he's been instructed to behave as a perfect gentleman and has acquitted himself admirably, at least from what I can tell of that interview. We'll see more of it to-morrow, I guess.
Meanwhile, high-ranking officials at the Elysée palace have been instructed to discuss with the press how Chirac plans to participate in the ceremonies while holding his nose in Bush's presence. Yesterday, Le Monde's Claire Tréan reported
[...] the guest of honor will be George Bush, who is to deliver an address on Sunday morning, after Jacques Chirac, at the American cemetery of Colleville.Continue reading "If he had any..."
As the representative of the United States, it is George Bush who will receive the tributes paid to the "soldiers of freedom" of the Second World War. In France, this has not gone without provoking some grinding of teeth, scathing remarks on what is the "June 6 Paradox," according to Laurent Fabius, for whom Mr. Bush is "the exact opposite of the values that make us like America," and planned demonstrations.
Was it absolutely necessary to offer this platform to Mr. Bush, who doesn't hesitate to compare the fight for Europe's freedom and the current intervention in Iraq? Among Jacque Chirac's staff, the question is dodged: if the context of this ceremony is difficult for any one, it's George Bush! "He can't venture too far in historical comparison, else it might come back to bite him. Reality speaks for itself," they say at the Elysée Palace, implying that the photos from Abu Ghraib do not juxtapose well with the image of the heroes of D-Day.
"Democracy cannot be exported in armored vehicles," it is said dryly among Jacques Chirac's staff, who for months have been trying to explain to American officials that their "Greater Middle East" does not exist, that seeking to apply a global policy to countries that have only Islam in common is to bolster the idea of a clash of civilizations, that Europe didn't need American neo-conservatives to devote millions of euros to a mediterranean initiative conceived of in a spirit of dialogue and that Europe does not intend see itself dispossessed of this long-term effort in favor an American electoral slogan.