Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Once Again, France's Lucid Leaders Know Whom to Castigate and Whose Sensibilities to Manage

The man whose nation allegedly embodies republican values; the man who cajoled the leaders of Red China; the man whose only negative words during a visit to Vietnam served to lambaste American-style capitalism; the man whose nation speaks of negotiotions and understanding and debate when it comes to third-world autocrats but who invoked the highest-falutin' principles existant as his right-hand man went out of his way at the UN to find and stir up opposition to Uncle Sam's plans for Iraq; the man whose nation supposedly supports the small and weak nations consistently, both within (such the Baltic republics), and outside of, Europe; that man (as Le Monde's Natalie Nougayrède points out, albeit indirectly, of course) has had not a single negative word to say about the Soviet's latter-day occupation of Eastern Europe or of Vladimir Putin's current nostalgia for same.
La position de la France, dans cette polémique, a consisté à ménager les sensibilités officielles russes. Alors que George Bush a signifié qu'il profiterait de son tête-à-tête, dimanche soir, avec Vladimir Poutine pour "lui rappeler" que la fin de la guerre en Europe n'avait pas signifié pour tous la fin de l'oppression, Jacques Chirac n'a fait aucune allusion à ce thème, mais délivré un nouveau satisfecit au régime russe, qui mène, selon lui, des réformes "positives".
Strange how it never seems necessary to manage American sensibilities. Strange, also, how, if and when it is American leaders who seem to be managing the sensibilities of autocrats, this always gives raise to a brouhaha of indignation and castigation, inside America as well as abroad.

In a similar vein, while the French attribute their own opposition to America as proof of nothing but courage, reason, rationality, vision, and common sense, Christophe Châtelot attributes the Poles' opposition to Russia as proof of "a persistent perfume of Russiaphobia" floating around in Poland. Meanwhile, the obituary of a Le Monde journalist says quite a lot about the values of the French.

Double standards, mes amis. Double standards.

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