Submitted for your approval, a contrast of national leaders: George Bush, who was willing to stake his presidency on the course of action in Iraq he thought was right, and Jacques Chirac, who was drooling to oppose Bush, not for the cause of right but for the cause of political gain. Now, Chirac is condemning Britain’s Tony Blair for not following the same self-centered course.
French President Jacques Chirac said in a newspaper interview on Tuesday that Britain has gained nothing from its support for the United States-led invasion of Iraq.
Chirac said he had urged Britain before the invasion to press President Bush to revive the Middle East peace process in return for London’s support.
“Well, Britain gave its support but I did not see much in return,” Chirac was quoted as saying in the Times. “I am not sure that it is in the nature of our American friends at the moment to return favors systematically.”
Blair’s staunch support for Washington over Iraq led to bitter divisions within his ruling Labor Party and dragged down his public approval ratings.
Chirac, who will hold talks with Blair when he makes a state visit to Britain on Thursday, recalled a Franco-British summit last year when he asked his British counterpart to try to influence U.S. policy on the Middle East.
“I said then to Tony Blair: ‘We have different positions on Iraq. Your position should at least have some use’. That is to try to obtain in exchange a relaunch of the peace process in the Middle East.”
Chirac questioned whether Britain could act as a bridge between the United States and Europe to help heal the rift that developed over the Iraq war. France and Germany were among the most vocal opponents of U.S. military action to oust former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
“I am not sure with America as it is these days that it would be easy for someone, even the British, to be an honest broker,” Chirac was quoted as saying in the Times.
Blair said on Monday that Europe and the United States should bury their differences over Iraq and focus on global challenges such as lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. “It is not a sensible or intelligent response for us in Europe to ridicule American arguments and parody their political leadership,” Blair said in his major foreign policy speech of the year.
Do not make the mistake that Chirac is all about the Mideast peace process — no, for dear ol’ Jacques, it’s all about personal political gain and setting the E.U. (and consequently France) up as global rivals to the US. In this atmosphere, it is not surprising that an honest broker like the British would be ineffective in healing the rifts between the US and France. An honest broker cannot aid the relationship between a cowboy and a rattlesnake.
At a time when the world needs more Winston, we’re cursed with too much Jacques.