Jacques’s being the diplomat, updated
While France’s foreign policy of negotiation-bribery-and-appeasement collapses, not only with the ongoing missing French hostage situation but also with today’s bombing of the Indonesian Embassy in Paris, Jacques’s in Asia trying to restore faith in French diplomacy by touring the East with 50 French business leaders.
After a brief stop in Singapore, Chirac started his diplomatic initiative in Vietnam by dumping on the Americans:
Speaking at a French cultural centre in Hanoi ahead of Friday’s opening of a summit of European and Asian leaders, Chirac said France was right to stand up for cultural and linguistic diversity.
The outspoken French president warned that the world’s different cultures could be “choked” by US values.
This, he said, would lead to a “general world sub-culture” based around the English language, which would be “a real ecological catastrophe”.
Chirac’s Vietnam junket was sucessful: “Vietnam Airlines has signed a $US750 million memorandum of agreement with Airbus of France to purchase 10 passenger aircraft as part of its ambitious fleet and route expansion program.”
Chirac actively courted China (by declaring “The Year of China”, which lasted 9 months — shades of the 35-hr week? — and lighting the Eiffel Tower red) when the Chinese visited France, so now he says he will lobby the European Union to lift its arms embargo on China, despite divisions within the EU on lifting the ban and opposition from the United States. Better yet, “in an interview with China Central TV filmed last month ahead of a visit to China this week, Chirac reiterated his strong opposition to Washington’s decision to wage war on Saddam Hussein without United Nations backing”. Echoing John Kerry, Chirac stated “I believe it was a bad solution which didn’t conform with legality and with international law, and so it was a mistake,” according to a transcript of the interview released by Chirac’s office Friday.
Still on the diplomatic road, Chirac won’t attend a ceremony welcoming delegates of Burma’s military Junta to the Asian-EU summit in Vietnam, while at the same time maintaining his unofficial “affinity” to French oil company TOTAL and urging against imposition of EU sanctions against the Burmese junta. The Junta’s allegedly using Total transactions to hide the sale of heroin in order to purchase weapons.
Further diplomacy dictated that Jacques would keep mum to reports on Saddam and the French Connection:
To keep America at bay, he focusing on Russia, France and China – three of the five UN Security Council members with the power to veto war. Politicians, journalists and diplomats were all given lavish gifts and oil-for-food vouchers.
Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, told the ISG that the “primary motive for French co-operation” was to secure lucrative oil deals when UN sanctions were lifted. Total, the French oil giant, had been promised exploration rights.
Iraqi intelligence officials then “targeted a number of French individuals that Iraq thought had a close relationship to French President Chirac,” it said, including two of his “counsellors” [sic] and spokesman for his re-election campaign.
They even assessed the chances for “supporting one of the candidates in an upcoming French presidential election.” Chirac is not mentioned by name.
A memo sent to Saddam dated in May last year from his intelligence corps said they met with a “French parliamentarian” who “assured Iraq that France would use its veto in the UN Security Council against any American decision to attack Iraq.”
The secret voucher program was dominated by Russian, French and Chinese recipients, in that order, with Saddam spreading the wealth widely to prominent business men, politicians, foreign government ministries and political parties, the report said.
The report names former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri, and the Russian radical political figure Vladimir Zhirinovsky as voucher recipients, for example, and other foreign governments range from Yemen to Namibia.
As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher’s Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around… per the Watcher’s instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.
Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.