After a closer look, it turns out that the article is not — as implied! — a straight news item, the product of independent and objective news reporting (from reporters in the vein of those who uncovered, say, the Watergate scandal), but more of a book review, of a book which happens to be, at least partly, an apology of French government policy. Read excerpts from the Kessler article, then read our comments below…
French officials were prepared to provide as many as 15,000 troops for an invasion of Iraq before relations soured between the Bush administration and the French government over the timing of an attack, according to a new book published in France.Apparently, according to our detractor, ¡No Pasarán! would never publish this because it shows France in a good light and Dubya in a bad one, while giving credence to the (self-serving) opinion that, bien sûr, America's traditional allies were totally ready to stand by the side of Uncle Sam, and would have done so, except for the fact that an arrogant neanderthal was occupying the Oval Office. Well, we here at ¡No Pasarán! do not think ourselves as particularly biased, we just think people should think twice before accepting the "peace camp's" (self-serving) anti-Bush points of view…
The book, Chirac Contre Bush: L'Autre Guerre (Chirac vs. Bush: The Other War), reports that a French general, Jean Patrick Gaviard, visited the Pentagon to meet with Central Command staff on Dec. 16, 2002 — three months before the war began — to discuss a French contribution of 10,000 to 15,000 troops and to negotiate landing and docking rights for French jets and ships.
French military officials were especially interested in joining in an attack, because they felt that not participating with the United States in a major war would leave French forces unprepared for future conflicts, according to Thomas Cantaloube, one of the authors. But the negotiations did not progress far before French President Jacques Chirac decided that the Americans were pushing too fast to short-circuit inspections by U.N. weapons inspectors.
Chirac, the book says, was prepared to join in an attack if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had not allowed inspectors into Iraq. "Up until December 2002, what everyone told us is that France thought Saddam Hussein was going to make a mistake and not allow inspections," Cantaloube said in an interview. After inspectors appeared to make progress in Iraq, Chirac's thinking changed, especially after polls in France showed vast opposition to an attack. …
Chirac knew Bush's father, former president George H.W. Bush, well, but that relationship actually proved to be a distraction for the current president, according to the book, which says that Bush was annoyed that Chirac kept mentioning his father at every occasion. For months, French diplomats asked Chirac not to refer to Bush's father when he met the president, but he kept doing it.
During one of Bush's first European trips, when the new president impressed other European leaders at a summit, Chirac excitedly pulled out his cell phone to call Bush's father to report that the new president had done a great job. …
And so, we must be led to ask this:
- Why has this, this information of momentous importance, not been seen, or heard of, before? Specifically, why was it not announced, officially or unofficially, in declarations or in leaks, government-controlled or not, after the Iraq war? Why did it not transpire during the Iraq war? Why did it not do so before the Iraq war, during the UN negotiations?
- Does it not make sense that individuals, media outlets, and government officials opposed to Bush (both foreign and American) would have leaked and/or made use of this bit of news had the French preparations really been so extensive?
- Why does the book appear now? Why now, in October 2004?
2) Perhaps, second, it is being transpired now to put the heat back on Bush just as an important report shows that Saddam used cash stolen from the UN's flawed oil-for-food programme to induce the Security Council's "peace camp" members to thwart their Anglo-American allies.
3) Who, in a France that is united behind Chirac and Villepin's "heroic" and principled opposition to the Bush administration, will care (much) about the UN graft scandal, should it turn out that the war-mongering devil incarnate is defeated on November 2?
Might it be that, like the DVD version of Michael Moore's anti-Bush documentary, and with prompting from the Elysée palace, that this book is actually an instrument in the campaign — like Fahrenheit 9/11, unsolicited by the Democrat party, but an instrument nonetheless — to contribute to John Kerry's election victory? And thereby take any heat off the Elysée? (It appears that the timing of the publication of the book turns out to be one more Chirac snub that ought to figure in the book itself. Assuming Kerry wins, you can rest assured that, once he is in the White House, there will feelers sent to the Oval Office for payback in some form or another…)
(Merci to Amatriciana; this is one of
the better items we have received lately)