Monday, August 30, 2004

Lionizing French Foreign Policy While Demonizing That of Uncle Sam

It is indispensable that the international community assumes its responsibilities. That it admits to the disastrous results of its lack of action.
Just in case you didn't realize whom Jacques Chirac was referring to when he mentioned "the international community" in regards to the Iraqi situation, Le Monde is helpful enough to provide the translation: "the international community" is a referral to… the United States. Yes, you read that right, what Uncle Sam is guilty of in Iraq — unlike, presumably, the members of the "peace camp" — is "lack of action".

There is not a single word of doubt thereabout in the rest of the article devoted to the French president's speech to the French ambassadors' annual meeting home in Paris, which, instead, is lionized, as usual, by Le Monde's Claire Tréan, who goes on to explain the lucidity and the reasoning in every point in Chirac's speech.

(The previous day, the ambassadors had listened to a speech by France's new foreign minister, in which he not once mentioned the United States, Russia, NATO, Israel, Palestinian, the trans-Atlantic alliance, or September 11. This led the New York Times' Elaine Sciolino to note one ambassador calling Michel Barnier "the anti-de Villepin". ['Mr. de Villepin seemed determined to revive the historic greatness of France. He has a romantic view articulated in his book on Napoleon, "The Hundred Days," that describes the emperor's philosophy as "Victory or death, but glory whatever happens".'] Don't expect a low-spoken foreign minister to be fundamentally any different than his predecessors, though.)

Meanwhile, the independent newspaper sports an article on the man who invented Bush, in which Patrick Jarreau refers, in the first three paragraphs alone, to "that improbable president", to Karl Rove's "puppet", and (in the opening line) to the "fact" that "Nobody [!] believes that George Bush can have made it to the White House by his own means" (i.e., by his own mental prowess).

In the rest of the article concerning Karl Rove, it's the same usual negative-sounding and fear-inducing expressions about who really is "at the helm of the greatest power on the planet": The man "in the shadow of George Bush senior", "that string-puller", "that puppet displayer", "the man who is credited with as much intelligence as the man, to whom he is only officially the advisor, is credited with as little of", "the fundamentals of Karl Rove's job is propaganda and fund collecting by mail", "more a reactionary [the word of death in France] than a conservative", "Karl Rove is followed by a reputation as a trickster and a killer" (!).

He sincerely admires the man he helped to become the most powerful man of the United States, and whom he wants to turn into, in two months' time, a reelected president. In his eyes, George Walker Bush is the only Republican politician who can make his party stay durably in the White House.
Immediately before that paragraph, however, Jarreau had written that Karl Rove
has never been accused of showing a lack of respect for his boss. He is too smart for that.
In other words, someone as intelligent as Karl Rove (or "as us Europeans"?) can only be too aware that Dubya is nothing but a doofus. But he will not say so. I.e., he is an American who is dishonest and untrustworthy (a liar?). Aren't they all?

Still, Jarreau states that to Rove, George Walker Bush is the only republican politician who can make his party endure in the White House. The question that is never asked in this article (the most popular among visitors to Le Monde's website), is if Rove does not truly admire W, and if he truly believes W is such an ignorant bonehead, why doesn't (why didn't) the macchiavellian strategist he is simply settle on a far more intelligent politician in the first place? (Jeb Bush and John McCain come to mind, but surely even an intelligent nobody must make a more attractive solution than the former's big brother.) Surely that would be the simpler solution?

There is no explanation of this. No explanation but the usual fare in French media and in French society: (Most) Americans are ignorant simpletons, incapable of holding a rational thought, or else, they, or their leaders (or the people in the latters' shadows), are dishonest liars.

Meanwhile, the paper's front page sports a Jarreau headline explaining that Christian extremists are on the campaign trail for Bush, while Henri Tincq castigates the evangelists' cocktail of conservatism, patriotism, and religious fervor and sociologist Todd Gitlin tells Corine Lesnes that we are haunted by the fear that Bush might capitalize on any violence. As for Le Monde's editorial [another website favorite], it skewers Bush's "biblical vision of the world" and snorts in disgust at the "people chosen by God", noting that the planet's fundamentalisms (such as Hindu nationalism and Islamism) "are sometimes fed by the aggressivity of Christian groups linked to evangelical or Baptist churches from North America" (good to know who, fundamentally [sic], is the guilty party). "This vision of religion must be denounced".

And so… it's time — again! — for someone as lucid and intelligent (and secular) as Chirac to call on the simple-minded Americans "to assume their responsibilities" and "admit to the disastrous results of their lack of action". Quite convenient, n'est-ce pas?

Update: Following the historic Iraq election, President Ghazi al-Yawer derides one of the central tenets of French foreign policy as "complete nonsense"

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