"One may well ask if there isn’t today a kind of wish to destroy Lebanon - its infrastructure, its roads, its communications, its energy, its airport. And for what? I find honestly - as all Europeans do - that the current reactions are totally disproportionate. In the Middle East we are currently in a situation of great fragility and instability. We are in a dangerous situation, a very dangerous situation. We must be very, very careful."
This is the same man who tempered his criticism of footballer Zinedine Zidane's head-butt in the World Cup final by saying that it was 'unacceptable' but that it must have been 'provoked'. The French leader is saying that disproportionate violence on the soccer pitch at an individual level is mitigated because nasty words are a sufficient instigator for a physical assault.
During much of recent history, France has danced with the devil while haughtily dishing out self-serving advice to other nations about use of force.As recently as 1995, France was still conducting nuclear testing. France conducted 176 test blasts at the Mururoa and neighboring Fangataufa atolls from 1966 to 1995 despite the protests of much of the rest of the world. Even the US (a more likely target of an incoming attack) had stopped testing three years previous after the tensions of the Cold War had abated.
In 1985, France was responsible for the sinking of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior before it could protest French nuclear testing. (Talk about a pre-emptive strike.) That action by the French killed someone -- and recent documents show that France actually tried to blame Britain for the attack. The French response to non-violent protest --murder. Hypocracy thy name is France.
Then there's France's response to anti-French protests on the Ivory Coast. Between 20 and 60 Ivorians were killed during protests after France destroyed the Ivorian air force following attacks by the loyalist army that killed 9 French peacekeepers. France acted unilaterally and did not seek approval from the UN, despite there being 6,000 UN Peacekeepers on the ground who were potential targets for retaliation. Apparently France felt justified in not simply destroying the former colony's air force, but in killing people who protested that action. In fact, the French spokesman said that the reaction was 'moderate and restrained'.
Oh, and let's not forget France's special relationship with Saddam. The Oil-for-Food scandal has not shamed the French, despite people at the highest levels of their government being neck-deep in the affair. It is not unreasonable to think that if France had not been dealing duplicitously and illicitly with Saddam Hussein between the Gulf War and the Iraq War, that the Iraq War might well have been averted altogether.
Had France, Russia and China not been selling arms and raking in billions from Saddam, they might have seen the wisdom of calling Saddam's bluff rather than that of the US and Britain. Instead, the three sanctimonious nations correctly calculated that the left-tilting world would perceive the war to be aggression on the part of the US -- an insatiable lust for oil -- nevermind that these three are more dependent on Mid-East oil than is the US.
These three, with France at the fore, pretended to prefer peace, despite knowing full-well that a show of solidarity by the Security Council against Iraq's repeated breach of conditions laid out for the cease-fire, might have caused Saddam to back down -- instead, the three postured for the world press, openly slamming the US and lobbing accusations at Bush, while hiding their dirty linen behind their 'virtuous' anti-war facade. These three countries are hardly anti-war -- just look at their recent histories of use of force against less threatening adversaries.
Peace was never their goal -- shielding their misdeeds from scrutiny and maintaining the flow of bribe money-- with the bonus of sticking it to the US and Britain --that was their aim.
Forget whether there were WMD in Iraq, that's irrelevant -- Iraq had continually violated the UN Resolutions that had suspended hostilities in 1991. The Security Council had adequate reason to threaten a resumption of war to protest Saddam's non-compliance. Had every member of the Security Council been onside with the threat of war, actual war might not have been necessary.
Israel is responding to the breach of its border, the abduction of its soldiers and assaults on its population by an unreasonable and intractable enemy. As Hizbollah's missiles rain down on civilian targets in Haifa, ask yourself what France would do if it had to walk a mile in Israeli shoes? Sixty years ago, France might have thrown up its hands but its recent past shows that when it serves its own purposes, France is ready and willing to use excessive force to get its way or to seek vengence -- even when its own civilians are not at risk and when acting with force might put international troops in harm's way -- yet somehow Chirac feels entitled to suggest Israel should back off and use restraint when dealing with overt acts of war, which threaten not only it's population, but which could if left unchecked, threaten its very existence.
With its dodgy dealings in world affairs France is not a paragon of peaceful virtue. It is a nation that speaks out of both sides of mouth, and Jacques Chirac should just shut up.