Readers will have noted my opposition to a British war against Iraq.
The war of words between the British Prime Minister and the French President is another matter.
One of the simple rules I have in life is that, on any issue, before knowing the facts, if there is a dispute between Jacques Chirac and anyone else (Al Gore, Pol Pot, Lady Thatcher, Satan or even Bill Clinton), I know who is in the wrong and lying through his teeth, and lacking in diplomatic finesse.
In 27 years I have yet to be wrong even once.
In 1975, Jacques Chirac presided over France’s worst ever budget deficit, trade deficit, social security deficit, unemployment rise and tax increases. He proudly announced that the economic crisis was over. It was soon over for him as he was sacked as Prime Minister.
In 1981, when the Socialist government actually managed to equal Mr Chirac’s earlier disastrous economic performance, he described it as “an un-precedented idiocy”…
In 1986, Jacques Chirac won an election to become prime minister on a platform of Thatcherite reforms. Within weeks he was describing Mrs Thatcher in public as “une c******”, a description that was extremely vulgar and biologically impossible for a woman.
In 1991, Jacques Chirac promised to fight against the Maastricht Treaty by campaigning for the “No” campaign. Within days he had declared himself first neutral, then thrown his enthusiastic support for the “Yes” campaign, claiming that he would be more important if the referendum was narrowly won with his support, then if it was defeated massively with his opposition.
In 1992 on the bicentenary of the execution of King Louis XVI, a group of royalists asked for permission to lay a wreath in the place de la Concorde. Mayor of Paris Jacques Chirac tried (but failed) to prevent them from doing so. Having antagonised the royalists, Mr Chirac made no comment about the violent anti-royalists who attacked police and passers-by at the event.
In 1995, Jacques Chirac (now President) asked the mayor of Le Havre (a party colleague) not to play the Marseillaise at the opening of a new memorial. The mayor promptly cancelled the president’s invitation.
In 2002, Mr Chirac made 97 promises as part of his presidential re-election campaign. It will come as no surprise to learn that over 90% of them were calls for higher state spending or political correctness, or more eco-fascism.
Even the small steps being made in the right direction by Mr Chirac’s new prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin have either been in contradiction with Mr Chirac’s promises, or been the object public doubts expressed by the President.
Finally, on those areas where there has been some sense made by the French government this year: crackdown on terror networks, better security at the Channel tunnel, closing the Sangatte refugee camp, Mr Chirac hasn’t said a word.
I note that unlike Saddam Hussein, Mr Chirac actually has a sizable nuclear arsenal (the third largest in the world). He is certainly a bigger threat to free trade. I’m more optimistic that Chirac’s successor would be an improvement than that Saddam’s would be. And the best bit of all is that once removed there’s bound to be some pretext for locking Chirac up for a long time… and I haven’t even mentioned the corruption.
Leave Iraq to the US Mr Blair, liberate France now!
“Vive la France libre!”