I haven’t had a chance until now to post about it but for the past two days I’ve been following the stories on Gaddafi’s excellent Parisian adventure. Here’s the short version:
Here’s the tent:
And now for the details:
Gaddafi (he of the multiple spellings – Gaddafi, Kadhafi, whatever) spent five days in Paris, accompanied by his bodyguard babes, and left with several deals, not the least of which is “a co-operation accord to develop the peaceful use of nuclear energy”.
We all have heard about “peaceful use of nuclear energy” in other quarters.
Beeb has more on the deals, and it’s worth noting that
France is the first Western country to welcome Col Gaddafi since he took the decision to end the country’s diplomatic isolation four years ago.
Sarko’s under a great deal of criticism for that, which he brushed off in his characteristic manner: Sarkozy attacks coffee-sipping elite over Gaddafi
French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday dismissed those who criticise his human rights record as coffee-drinking intellectuals who stood idly by while he fought to change things.
At least he didn’t call them “tea-drinking intellectuals”. Sarko likes to get his shirt wet, or so it seems:
“It is all well and good to never get your shirt wet, to take no risks, to stay on the sidelines, to speak to no one, to be so sure of one’s self and what one believes in while sipping one’s cafe creme on the boulevard Saint-Germain,” he said, referring to a traditionally intellectual, rich area of Paris.
More on the verbal sparring: Gadaffi trade talks spark Paris furore
Muammer Gadaffi, the Libyan leader, yesterday began a five-day visit to Paris to buy arms, nuclear power and civil airliners, triggering a storm of criticism from campaigners and an outburst from a government minister who said France should not accept his “kiss of death”.
The Wall Street Journal had more on the business end of the trip: Gadhafi Signs $14.7 Billion in Deals For Arms and Nuclear Reactors
Moammar Gadhafi swept into town with all the trappings of his Bedouin heritage Monday and got straight to business, cutting $14.7 billion in deals for arms and nuclear reactors on his first official visit to the West since renouncing terrorism and atomic weapons.
President Nicolas Sarkozy defended the visit, saying it is France’s duty to encourage states that move toward international respectability.
I still think the word “nuclear reactor” shouldn’t be on the same sentence as the guy who’s connected to “Lockerbie, Scotland”, no matter how graceful the move toward international respectability.
Daniel thinks that Sarko “has shown to be someone ready to do anything for a fat check for French goods offer.”
The Guardian however, thinks all governments are whores: Sarkozy may sacrifice human rights for commerce, and let’s not kid ourselves that we’re any different
What strikes me about Sarkozy’s attitude is its total absence of embarrassment, the lack of any attempt to excuse or explain: business trumps human rights. Full stop. Contrast this with the behaviour of Gordon Brown and the British government when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia came on his state visit to London six weeks ago. Embarrassment oozed out of every British pore. We really don’t want to do this and wish we didn’t have to, was the clear message – never spoken out loud – but we’d better, because the Saudis help us catch terrorists and buy things from us. Human rights? Jolly important, but we won’t mention it now, in case they get cross; but we assure you we’re working on it behind the scenes.
The British and French governments were doing the same thing – entertaining a tainted head of state to make money. Sarkozy did it openly, almost proudly; Brown hypocritically. The prime minister did, it’s true, demonstrate his human-rights credentials with his easy, unnecessary, pointless and possibly counter-productive boycott of the EU-Africa summit last week, because Robert Mugabe was there. But then, Zimbabwe isn’t buying billions of pounds’ worth of British goods.
Erik Svane, on the other hand, notices a difference:
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… Europe — Europe, 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.
The question remains, Did Sarkozy tackle human rights with Colonel Gaddafi? Sarko told France2 TV anchor David Pujadas, “No, absolutely not”; at the same time Sarko says he told Gaddafi that more needed to be done “to improve human rights in Libya.
Update, Thursday 13 December:
30 Virgin Bodyguards Escort Muammar Gaddafi Into Paris
Mr Sarkozy argues that it is sterile to oppose an idealistic to a realistic brand of foreign policy. He believes you can pursue both. Even as he pushes arms contracts and entertains the likes of Mr Qaddafi, he is also sending over 1,000 French peacekeepers to the Darfur border. France is ready to talk to anybody who tries to improve their behaviour. As Mr Sarkozy asked, “what would we say to Iranian leaders if we did not offer a hand to a Libyan leader who has himself chosen to turn his back on nuclear arms and terrorism?”
The trouble arises when one pursues moral diplomacy and realpolitik with the same country. Were the arms contracts from Libya part of the deal to free the Bulgarian nurses? Mr Sarkozy says not, but the terms are being looked at by a parliamentary inquiry. Mr Sarkozy is pressing to free hostages in Colombia, among them Ingrid Betancourt, a Franco-Colombian. But he also persuaded the Colombians to free a top guerrilla from the FARC, considered a terrorist group by America and Europe.
In short, Mr Sarkozy’s action-man diplomacy is about results, not means: if it works, it works. The release of Ms Betancourt, for instance, would be warmly welcomed in France. And Mr Sarkozy has no time for left-bank intellectuals “so sure of what they think while drinking coffee on the Boulevard Saint-Germain”. They may not have much time for him, either.
In other Sarko news, ‘Danger of war’ exists with Iran
Somebody tell the CIA!