May 02, 2003

Department of Poor Diplomacy Even

Department of Poor Diplomacy

Even retired French diplomats are getting into the fray in the pages of Le Monde criticizing de Villepin's Quai D'Orsay for various diplomatic missteps:

"La veille d'une intervention militaire amŽricaine en Irak que tout le monde savait inŽluctable, le dŽplacement prŽcipitŽ du ministre des affaires Žtrangres ˆ Luanda, YaoundŽ et Conakry, toutes capitales de pays singulirement respectueux des droits de l'homme, Žtait-il indispensable?"

Translation: "Was it indispensable to precipitously send the [French] Foreign Minister to Luanda, Yaounde and Conakry, all capitals of countries singularly respectful of human rights, on the eve of an American military intervention in Iraq that the entire world knew was inevitable?"

Indeed.

UPDATE: More regret in French quarters.

Money grafs:

"What is surprising is the talk on Parisian streets. Sure you still run into the odd group of men who stand around bitching about America--who make faces when they hear an American accent or who reflexively launch into the "this war was for petrol" loop. But you also hear a surprising number of people concerned that Chirac went too far.

A business dinner organized during the war by my husband's colleagues in Boulougne, St. Cloud, a banlieue chic of Paris, shed light on the new position. It's not, these people were quick to explain, that they were in favor of "Bush's war." Nor did they care much for the American president. But, just like Raffarin, who qualified his position as antiwar but pro-American, they worry that Chirac has forever marginalized the country. As one put it, "Who are our allies today? Iraq? China and Russia? China and Russia are not our natural allies, the United States is."

And these questions have clearly bubbled up to the country's political and intellectual elite. Over dinner a few nights later at a tiny restaurant in the fourth arrondissement, I couldn't help but notice that the party next to us was arguing. The issue, of course, was the war. But, contrary to what we might have expected, not simply how to be against the war. One diner was actually arguing that French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin should never have taken such an aggressive antiwar stance. Turned out the advocate of this position was chief of staff for a member of the French parliament. He was completely in favor of the American position--a rarity in Paris, especially for someone accompanied by a group of friends who are pretty adamant in their opposition to American foreign policy. But M. Chief-of-Staff was quick to say he knew other staffers who supported his position."

Posted by Gregory at May 2, 2003 01:32 PM
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