Friday, February 03, 2006

Celebrating European Solidarity, Castigating American Perfidy

In typical MSM fashion, the NYT's Alan Cowell has all (or at least most) European newspapers showing solidarity and joining the fray, while the IHT's Doreen Carvajal (having picked up a Le Monde article) hides the real reason for the long queues outside the American consulate in Paris among statements of resentment at America and her own implication that it it is (basically) Uncle Sam's fault.

Thus, the statement

Twenty-seven countries are in this category and twenty-six managed to produce the high-tech passports. France is the sole exception and the reason why is not surprising given the feisty nature of the nation's unions. France is still churning out low-tech versions because of an ongoing legal tiff between the Interior Ministry and unions that took action to block the government from using a private printing company to manufacture the documents instead of the state-owned national printers
is carefully and deliberately sandwiched between the opening
A "visa crisis" is being blamed for the decline in French visitors, which dates to a U.S. law passed in 2001 that requires mainly West European countries to manufacture special electronic passports for tourists and business travelers seeking to enter the United States. Twenty-six countries developed the documents. One didn't. And therein lies a tale of French politics, union protest and lines of citizens left out in the cold. On Monday, the U.S. Consulate in Paris was the destination for a snaking line of almost 200 people in a grim, wintry mood despite dreams of family vacations in Dallas or conga lines and cocktails in Miami Beach. Joseph Madai gripped a sheaf of papers against his chest in the cold and muttered that next year he was trading a Miami sojourn for Africa. Nathalie Debril staked a spot on the cold sidewalk, fresh from a flight from her home in the south of France to get to the one U.S. Consulate that was issuing travel visas. "All this for a week's vacation," huffed Debril's boyfriend, Laurent Lebecq. "We're not emigrating. We just want to travel to Dallas."
and the close
"…to be honest, French people are a bit proud and it makes me feel a little like I'm coming from a third world country to get a visa. And now I will have to wait again in line in the cold."
Meanwhile, the IHT's John Vinocur has an interesting article on how, because "the White House wants to avoid a possible military confrontation with the mullahs in the run-up to congressional elections in November", contrarian France has stepped in.
Unlike in the United States, where new political grief would await whatever Bush might say, or shies away from saying, about dealing with Iran beyond its eventual referral to the United Nations Security Council, in France there is no serious domestic downside built-in to challenge Chirac's [aggressive] approach.
It just goes to show that it really doesn't matter what Bush, or what America, does, whether it's war-like or anything else. If France opposes Uncle Sam, then basically the whole population realizes that the country is on the correct path and knows to withhold criticism.

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