Sunday, February 16, 2003

Jacques Chirac, a grown-up, unfortunately feels the need to defend himself against verbal spitballs from overgrown schoolboys in the U.S. government and media.

Do I even need to excerpt the interview? Chirac says what any rational adult would about Iraq:

I simply don't analyze the situation as [Bush and Blair] do. Among the negative fallout [from a war] would be inevitably a strong reaction from Arab and Islamic public opinion. It may not be justified, and it may be, but it's a fact. A war of this kind cannot help giving a big lift to terrorism. It would create a large number of little bin Ladens. Muslims and Christians have a lot to say to one another, but war isn't going to facilitate that dialogue. I'm against the clash of civilizations; that plays into the hands of extremists. There is a problem—the probable possession of weapons of mass destruction by an uncontrollable country, Iraq. The international community is right to be disturbed by this situation, and it's right in having decided Iraq should be disarmed. The inspections began, and naturally it is a long and difficult job. We have to give the inspectors time to do it. And probably—and this is France's view—we have to reinforce their capacities, especially those of aerial surveillance. For the moment, nothing allows us to say inspections don't work.

...Are there other weapons of mass destruction? That's probable. We have to find and destroy them. In its current situation, does Iraq—controlled and inspected as it is—pose a clear and present danger to the region? I don't believe so. Given that, I prefer to continue along the path laid out by the Security Council. Then we'll see.

Chirac says he likes the U.S., too:

I've known the U.S. for a long time. I visit often, I've studied there, worked as a forklift operator for Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis and as a soda jerk at Howard Johnson's.

The obvious point is that he's more familiar with the U.S. than George W. is with Europe. The less obvious point is that he's worked at crummy jobs in America -- and I wonder how many of his antagonists who actually live here can say the same.

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