Monday, October 17, 2005

Multilatéralisme à la Française

…now we know what French officialdom means by the word "multilateralism": One part involves speechifying about the need for international "consensus" and "legitimacy"; a second part involves doing business with dictators and doing their bidding at the U.N. Add to this mix the aggressive pursuit of the commercial interests of certain privileged companies, and you have the soufflé that is the foreign policy of the Fifth Republic.
So writes the Wall Street Journal (merci à RV).
… what's clear is that France was not randomly chosen to be the beneficiary of Saddam's largesse. Successive French presidents beginning with Charles de Gaulle have courted Iraq. Saddam himself was quoted by French journalists Claude Angeli and Stéphanie Mesnier as saying: "Who did not benefit from these business contracts and relationships with Iraq? … From Mr. Chirac to [former French defense minister] Mr. Chevenement, politicians and economic leaders were in open competition to spend time with us and flatter us."

The remark, made in 1992, was part of a larger complaint that France had joined the coalition in the first Gulf War; Saddam then warned that "if this trickery continues, we will be forced to unmask them, all of them, before the French public." Plainly, the warning was both heard and heeded, as France thereafter repeatedly came to Iraq's diplomatic rescue and did its utmost to obstruct the coalition of the willing before the war.

We can't say that any of this comes as a surprise. But it ought to remind the world of two things: First, there was never a chance -- as some liberal fantasists still contend -- that more patient American diplomacy could have succeeded in creating an international consensus to enforce U.N. resolutions on Iraq, much less to depose Saddam. And second, the war in Iraq was not only an act of national liberation but also of international political hygiene. Any lingering doubts that certain French leaders were in need of a shower can now be dispelled.

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