Friday, June 15, 2007

The Poodle of Germany?

…as the signs of disdain for Chirac among the French public — and even certain parts of the French media — multiplied in the months [after the resounding "no" vote in the May 2005 French referendum on the EU "constitutional treaty"], the mainstream of the American media continued to treat him with the deference befitting a great and influential statesman
writes John Rosenthal in his insightful article on Jacques Chirac's role (or lack thereof) during the Iraq war.
There is little doubt about the source of the media's obvious faith in Chirac's statesmanlike "grandeur": namely, his high-profile role in opposing the Iraq War in early 2003. In France, Chirac's anti-war stance predictably led to a spike in his popularity, as the "anti-imperialist" left suddenly found itself expressing pride in the courageous and upstanding leadership of a man who only the year before was being persistently referred to in "leftist" media as "Super-liar" [Supermenteur]: a leaden allusion to "Superman" that is as unfunny in French as it is in English. …

For the American media and the American public, however, the highly publicized French agitation in the run-up to the war left behind the enduring impression that it was Chirac who was the driving force behind the Franco-German "Axis of Peace" that attempted to prevent the American-led intervention. The notion that Chirac led the opposition to the war is common on both the "left" and the "right" and it is shared by both Chirac's admirers and his detractors. But a simple look back at the chronology of events makes clear that this notion is a myth. Chirac did not lead. He followed.

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