Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Vous n'avez ici que des amis, Excellence"

Although Kadhafi's Paris visit has led to a number of criticisms by French lawmakers (notice reactions like the crybaby Christiane D's agreeing with the dictator as well as pouting how much the Iraq war had led to suffering for… EuropeEurope, for Christ's sake!), heaven forbid that there be any demonstrations like that in Paris when George W Bush came to commorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

Heaven forbid as well that there would have been a glowing reception given to the American president like the Ritz event described by Ariane Chemin in Le Monde in which Kadhafi is told he has nothing but friends and is oohed and aahed over by Paris's intelligentsia.
Ambassadeurs, admirateurs, éditeurs, on se rue sur la petite table où Kadhafi signe ses oeuvres.
One woman is "delighted" that her book has been signed by Kadhafi with the word "friendship". Meanwhile, André Fontaine is taken out of the mothball closet to explain how an insult made during his first Paris visit 34 years ago (the Guide of the Libyan Revolution had more criticism for France this week) had to be answered by then-Le Monde editor Fontaine. He then goes on to say, obviously with a nodding attitude, even with admiration (for the interpreter):
Mais la manière dont l'interprète libyen traduisit ma réponse fut assez habile pour satisfaire Kadhafi, dont le visage s'illumina.
I thought that when it comes to a free country like France, the point is to be upright and always to tell friends and enemies alike the truth outside of all fear? If your translators are going to mis-translate the words, or the sense of the phrase, then what's the point?!

Don't think that these monuments to France's lucidité at the Ritz don't have principles, however. They are in rage. Over what? Over Bernard Kouchner's refusal to attend the Kadhafi love-fest, as well as his refusal to explain his reason for not attending, which Roland Dumas deems nothing less than… "a dual cowardice"!

Update: Axel Poniatowski answers questions from Le Monde readers (teaching them — and us — that, among other things, "à partir du 1er janvier prochain, la Libye va présider le Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU")…

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