Thursday, June 03, 2004

If he had any...

Over at MiF, W. points out that a torrent of "hate speech plain and simple" is emerging out of France in anticipation of Sunday's D-Day commemorations. This is a case of reality's surpassing even MiF's capacity to exaggerate. In this case, what would usually be tittilating hyperbole is actually a mere statement of fact. Such sentiments can be found even at the highest levels...

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.

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.
Continue reading "If he had any..."


Anonymous said...

Douglas, I have read Claire Tréan's article again, and nowhere can I find mention of "French leaders... still considering it worth pondering whether it was even necessary to allow (the US soldiers) president the opportunity to speak."

The journalist is wondering if it was right or not. And the Elysée staff did not answer ! If think the next paragraph sums it all:

"Ce n'est pas lui que nous célébrons... Il s'agit au contraire de montrer que le lien historique de l'Europe avec les Etats-Unis résiste aux divergences du moment, que la reconnaissance pour les combattants de 1944 est intacte mais qu'elle n'est pas synonyme d'alignement."

I've read Le Monde, seen Laura Bush's interview on France2 yesterday. And I am still looking for that "torrent of hate speach"

As for kicking Chirac in the nuts, I am sure that Bush will wait for the Georgia summit next week (Bush, Blair and Chirac are going to meet three times this month...)

Douglas said...

Before I reply, I should say I really wish people wouldn't post anonymously so often. It's nice to put a name to the readers' words.

As for your point, anonymous, I wrote, "some still consider it worth pondering whether it was even necessary to allow their president the opportunity to speak" and indeed the antecedent of "some" is "French leaders" but what I didn't mean them specifically but any and all French persons who are entertaining such thoughts, starting with the author of this article, her editors and any sources, whoever they may have been, who may also have had such ideas.

Sorry for the confusion.

Douglas said...

And if you're still waiting, well... if the latest entry at Le Monde Watch isn't enough, I don't know what will be. Try scanning back through the archives, week after week. You should find quite an inventory. (That's why these blogs exist.)

Erik said...

I blogged about this article yesterday, and I find Anonymous's comments either beside the point or misleading. You can argue about words, but the tone of the article is inescapable — snotty and judgmental disapproval from their lofty hillside throughout — and Douglas hit the nail on the head when he wrote "Chirac plans to participate in the ceremonies while holding his nose in Bush's presence".

Moreover, I saw FR2's interview of Laura Bush too, and the tone, there also, was one of sly amusement before the first lady's use of the word "values" (as in "Mon dieu, how can she be so out of the loop?").

As far as Claire Tréan is concerned, we've seen her before. She makes a habit of writing articles which are total apologies for France and that lionize Paris's policies while castigating not only America, but, at times it seems, everybody else.

Don't blame her personally, though. And let's not suggest, even indirectly, that this happened "accidentally", i.e., in spite of editorial supervision. Au contraire. This is obviously part of what the IHT's John Vinocur calls "the newspaper's close relationship with" the French Foreign Ministry".

Anonymous said...

Douglast, we either go through the whole rigmarole of registering with Blogger or post anonymously. We haven't the choice.

Martin, a different anonymous than the other one.

Douglas said...

I'm sorry to learn that, Martin. One more thing that makes me think that blogger didn't really think through their changes. (Hear that, blogger!?)

Anonymous said...

I can't find any other way to get this to you, so here goes: can you set your site up to allow those of us who do not use MS IE browsers to see the site clearly?

I am using Mozilla with all the plug-ins and I get gibberish for the most part. Thanks!

bear, the (one each)

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