Sunday, November 15, 2015

Shall We Eat French Fries With Our Crow?

Recognize this guy? His name is Dominique Marie François René Galouzeau de Villepin. He was the Prime Minister of France from 2005-2007. Prior to that, he served as the French Minister of Foreign Affairs under President Jacques René Chirac.

On February 14, 2003, while serving as French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Villepin gave an informed, impassioned speech to the United Nation’s Security Council opposing President George W. Bush’s plan to invade Iraq. He told world leaders that French intelligence agencies had no evidence of any links between al-Qaeda and Iraq. He told world leaders that there was no evidence that Iraq had any weapons of mass destruction. He urged world leaders to unite in disarming Iraq but to be smart and cautious and only go to war as a last result. He offered evidence of how UN inspections were beginning to produce good results and should be given more of a chance. He warned world leaders that going to war with Iraq could make the region more unstable and likely boost the strength and resolve of terrorists.

His speech was well-received and loudly applauded -- except by the United States. 

Many Americans accused France of betrayal. Anti-French sentiment hit insanity level.  Republican U.S. Representatives Bob Ney and Walter B. Jones directed cafeterias in the Capital to change all references to French fries and French toast on menus and replace them with Freedom fries and Freedom toast. "Patriotic" Americans throughout our nation made showy, bravado displays of dumping out French wines and eating Freedom fries.  (When asked for a response, French Embassy Spokeswoman Nathalie Loiseau – after pointing out that fries actually originated in Belgium – said, “We are in a very serious moment dealing with very serious issues, and we are not focusing on the name Americans give to potatoes.")

And what did Dominique de Villepin say that provoked brave Americans to become so lividly outraged as to courageously resort to drinking California wines and renaming their fast-food fried potato snacks in the name of freedom?

Here’s some highlights from his speech: 

"We are pursuing together the objective of effectively disarming Iraq. We have an obligation to achieve results. Let us not cast doubt on our common commitment to this goal. We shoulder collectively this onerous responsibility which must leave no room for ulterior motives or assumptions. Let us be clear: Not one of us feels the least indulgence towards Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime." 

“The use of force would be so fraught with risks for people, for the region and for international stability that it should only be envisioned as a last resort. . . The option of war might seem a priori to be the swiftest. But let us not forget that having won the war, one has to build peace. Let us not delude ourselves; this will be long and difficult because it will be necessary to preserve Iraq's unity and restore stability in a lasting way in a country and region harshly affected by the intrusion of force. Faced with such perspectives, there is an alternative in the inspections which allow us to move forward day by day with the effective and peaceful disarmament of Iraq. In the end is that choice not the most sure and most rapid?”

“Such intervention could have incalculable consequences for the stability of this scarred and fragile region. It would compound the sense of injustice, increase tensions and risk paving the way to other conflicts. . . Would not such intervention be liable to exacerbate the divisions between societies, cultures and peoples, divisions that nurture terrorism?”

Shall we eat French fries with our crow?