Chirac Politely takes on Bush
AFP reports that on a number of occasions French president Jacques Chirac exhibited independence from the Bush agenda. He wore a coat and tie at Sea Island, Georgia, despite President Bush’s request for informality. He refused to see NATO troops sent to Iraq.
On NATO, according to AP he said in part:
I do not think that it is NATO’s job to intervene in Iraq,” Chirac told reporters in a videoconference from Sea Island, the private resort where the leaders have gathered. “Moreover, I do not have the feeling that it would be either timely or necessarily well understood,” said Chirac, adding that he had “strong reservations on this initiative.”
On June 8, Chirac took on the idea of democratizing “the Greater Middle East.” He admitted that it could “contribute, in a strong and useful way for the region, to the progress of reforms engaged in by the countries of the region.” But he affirmed that the Israeli-Palestinian and the Iraq conflicts were “the primary obstacles” to the success of reforms in these countries, because of “the resentments and frustrations” that they engender, according to the text of his declaration made public by the French president’s office.
He said, “The countries of the Middle East and North Africa do not need missionaries of democracy.” He added tht “There is no already-made democratic formula that one could transpose from one country to another. Democracy is not a method, but a culture. If one wants to see liberty, respect for human rights, and the rule of law impose themeslves on a country, it is necessary first of all to respect the liberty and independence of that country . . . reform cannot be decreed from the outside. It is accomplished from the inside.” He insisted that progress on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute was key to making advances in the area of reform.
Chirac spoke forthrightly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a way that is not allowed to a US politician bacause of pro-Israeli special interest lobbies that punish anyone who steps out of line. (That is why Senator Fritz Hollings had to wait until he was about to retire before speaking out on the issue).
He said, “It is self-evident that all joint approaches to the problem of what one today calls “The Greater Middle East and North Africa” presuppose that there will have been progress–something we cannot see today–in returning to peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. For one cannot de-link a certain number of phenomena which are taking place in the world today from the impetus that was given them from the beginning of the conflict.”
The Washington Post reported,
“The conflicts ravaging the region are today the paramount obstacles to its development,” Chirac said. “We must take measure of the resentments and frustrations from one end of the Arab world to the other, fueled by the daily spectacle of violence and humiliation in places so laden with history and symbols.”