Considering what he said about the United States prior to a visit with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac is hardly in a make-up- and-move-on mood.
Watch out, the French president warned Blair, who is looking to patch up differences between Europe and the United States. The U.S., said Chirac, does not give tit for tat. It does not repay you for your friendship.
Still smarting from Donald Rumsfeld's characterization of France as part of "old Europe," he also said the U.S. defense secretary has no "culture," and he then underlined an objective of the European Union — to make this a "multipolar" world, namely one in which the United States is no longer economically and otherwise pre-eminent.
There are a few things to think about here, including the obvious cynicism in the suggestion that alliances should be built on favor-trading instead of doing what is right and in the interest of preserving Western civilization from the vermin gnawing at it. Does such cynicism go hand in hand with corruption?
Consider the contents of the report by U.S. arms inspector Charles Duelfer: An underreported revelation in that document was that Saddam Hussein was bribing French officials close to Chirac with the purpose of having U.N. sanctions eased on Iraq. Approximately $2.9 billion was paid to various parties in France after Saddam figured out a means of converting a humanitarian U.N. program into a means of bribery and astounding self-enrichment.
It should come as no surprise then that Chirac, who had past associations with
Saddam profitable to France, would stand against a U.S. invasion. What was in an invasion for him? On the other hand, look at what a cozy relationship with Saddam could gain.
As for the future of "old Europe," let's hope for the best. The facts should keep us from expecting it.
France is among those European nations whose populations are in decline at the same time their economies are barely puttering along. Worse days are coming. The welfare states of these nations cannot be maintained as their populations age, but the allegiance to socialist programs has become a replacement for religious convictions that have largely fled the scene.
What we have here is not a formula for a multipolar world, whether Chirac has more culture than Rumsfeld or not.