We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The smell of victory in the morning

President Jacques Chirac, who has just rushed to the military hospital in Clamart to be at Yasser Arafat’s bedside, took time off to pen a letter to his American colleague. My translation [handwritten bits in bold]:

Mister President, Dear George
In the name of France and in my personal name, I wish to express to you my most hearty congratulations for your re-election to the Presidency of the United States of America.

I make the wish that your second mandate will be the opportunity to reinforce franco-american friendship. The ceremonies for the sixtieth anniversary of the landings paid a shining hommage to the American soldiers who fell on the Normandy beaches for our freedom and that of Europe.

It is in the spirit of dialogue, esteem and mutual respect that our co-operation, our common combat against terrorism and the action that we carry out together to promote liberty and democracy, must continue.

We cannot find satisfactory answers to the numerous challenges against which we are confronted today without a close transatlantic partnership. The United States and France are called upon to play in this an essential role. We share the ambition of assuring to the greatest number peace, security and prosperity, in the spirit of solidarity [this usually means entitlement programs in French]. I am convinced that together, we can get there.

I beg you to believe, Mister President, of the assurance of my very high opinion of you. and of my very cordial friendship

Jacques CHIRAC

I bet that was painless. Oh and I hope that the President Chirac is careful in his motorcade coming home from Clamart. That’s right next to the road junction where the OAS tried to assassinate General de Gaulle (as seen in the Day of the Jackal) in 1962. And we would not want anything to happen to Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat’s favourite Frenchman.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

20 comments to The smell of victory in the morning

  • Pete_London

    Many thanks, Gustave.

    I really can’t work out if he’s ‘reaching out’ to Dubya or taking the mick.

  • George

    Jacque is practicing some realpolitik (but doesn’t he always?).

    Personally, as an American, I have no use at all right now for perfidious France. But Dubya may sense he needs Jacque, just as Jacque needs Dubya. Stay tuned.

  • EddieP

    Jacques is revolted at the idea that he has to write this letter in English. It would have been so much more in keeping if the French speaking one were in the White House.

  • R C Dean

    Dubya needs Jacques? What for?

  • Pete(Detroit)

    It is in the spirit of dialogue, esteem and mutual respect that our co-operation, our common combat against terrorism and the action that we carry out together to promote liberty and democracy, must continue.

    Right, so the visit to Arafat’s bedside is of the ‘I’ll hold him, you hit him’ variety? How VERY French.

  • Jake

    Many people in America look upon France as the enemy not as a possible transatlantic partner.

    The best Chirac can hope for is a spacious tent at Guantanamo Bay

  • I should hope the response read:

    From the American President to the French President:

    Nuts!

  • Thomas J. Jackson

    Chiraq as an ally is like a viper as a pet.

  • Maybe it’s your translation (not a criticism) but isn’t the French equivalent of “and of my very cordial friendship” about as cold as you can get, in formal french diplomatic speech, and not be on the verge being insulting?

    “Diplomatic” French is, in my experience, a veritable minefield of translation into english, it’s not that words are hard if you are reasonably bilingual, it’s that the meanings are loaded like cheap dice.

  • John

    I find the hatred against Chirac amusing. He’s just doing what we’re doing: looking out for number one. It’s clearly in France’s best interests to oppose the USA (look how much security and mindshare he’s bought from Islamists by the simple act of accepting Arafat into his hospitals, compared to how much security and mindshare the USA has bought with $100bn of war), and while we have every right to oppose him, we can’t exactly blame him or call him subhuman for doing the exact same thing we are doing. Maybe France will treat us with non-contempt when we start doing the same.

  • Pete_London

    John

    The point that Chiraq is looking out for number is correct. Its the point of politics and the nature of politicians. The rest of your post is incredible. He has not bought one ounce of security (I don’t know what ‘minshare is) from Islamists. The French are infidels and still marked for death. Aren’t two French journalists still being held hostage by Islamists in Iraq?

    I don’t recall anyone calling Chiraq subhuman.

    Maybe France will treat us with non-contempt when we start doing the same.

    This is what we are doing.

    You seem to suggest that following 9/11 the US should have fallen to its knees and begged for mercy. If so you understand nothing of the US.

    Read a few of the wise words of Winston. If they can’t give you a spine nothing will.

  • Pete_London

    John

    Each to his own and all that, but your comment really got up my nose. Let me start you off with one of Winston’s pearls:

    An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

  • DS

    “Many people in America look upon France as the enemy not as a possible transatlantic partner.”

    Enemy implies some equality, a level of respect based on fear. Most Americans look at France as an annoiance, not an enemy, and certainly not anything to fear. France can never be a “partner” because they bring absolutely nothing to any partnership. To quote General Patton “I’d rather have a German army in front of me than a French army behind me.”

    Don’t mistake laughing at the French for respect. Americans don’t respect the French enough to hate them. Unfortunately, all of the French jokes we pass around on email and boycotts (of which I had been particpating for years and didn’t even realize it) seem to have given the French an exagerrated sense of importance. But we would have to actually care what they think to generate genuine hate.

    “Maybe France will treat us with non-contempt when we start doing the same.”

    Americans would have to show a lot MORE contempt for France than we do now in order to accomplish a reciprocal relationship.

  • DS is right: Americans don’t hate the French they merely mock and snicker at them. It is the French that hate Americans (and the English as well). I have never seen an American spit on a Frenchman, I have seen the reverse several times.

    The French will never treat the US with non-contempt, its not in their nature.

    The French mock the “Christian values” of many Americans. Well as a non-Christian, unburdened by have to forgive, I can wish them all the ill in the world.

    I look forward to the next time the French need American help…let’s hope we ignore their pleas.

  • alvin_day

    Chirac is amazingly pompous and insincere. The man is so full of himself. What bothers many of us about him (besides that) is the Chirac’s inherent hypocricy.

    Even this letter to Bush, even his words about “working together” have a barely hidden falseness to them.

    Meanwhile, Chirac can wax lyrical about “human rights” and extend his courtesy to Arafat and various other brutal dictatorial Arab regimes. I guess France’s financial ties to Arab countries has nothing to do with their attitudes. For that matter, the musings in the French press over whether helping Arafat and the Palestinians will mean that Arab extremists will avoid hurting French men and women – probably this doesn’t constitute the worst type of appeasement. I’m still thinking about how the French enlisted Arafat and every Arab leader to announce to the captors (of the French hostages) that France is a good friend of the Arab people…

  • A_t

    Meanwhile, Bush can wax lyrical about “human rights” and extend his courtesy to the Saudi regime and various other brutal dictatorial Arab regimes. I guess the US’s financial ties to Arab countries has nothing to do with their attitudes.

  • Verity

    Y’all: Chirac is much more cynical, and realistic, than you give him credit for. He’s up to something.

  • The fact that Chirac used the condescending (or intimate – but that is inappropriate here) tu form tells me all I need to know about his intentions and attitude.

  • A_t

    Robin, where did you see him use ‘tu’? I’ve just read the entire note & he addresses him in the third person throughout, as would be appropriate in any formal communication.

    Even if he hated his guts (which he may do, tho tbh I don’t buy it; politics, politics, & Chirac is hardly a ‘conviction politician’), he’d be very unlikely to do that; it would reflect worse on Chirac than on Bush, both to the domestic & foreign audiences.

  • Garry

    What’s a Blogroach?

    “Americans would have to show a lot MORE contempt for France than we do now in order to accomplish a reciprocal relationship. ”

    Since Eisenhower deployed his 6th Fleet into the Mediterranean in the 60s the US has, as a nation, shown enough contempt to the whole un-American (in the still-well-entrenched McCarthyist sense) world to last into the next millennium. The French may look down their long pointy noses at everything un-French, and they may pull some un-Cricket tricks, but they have not gone to great lengths since WW2 to push half the non-Christian world into a war. In my view, no war between religiously different cultures can be won, ever. Even Hitler’s “religion” survives.

    I think that, like every other country that has ever initiated a war, the US has as suicidal a belief in her religions as do the go-straight-to-heaven Kamikaze and other living bombs. The horror of it all is that each side in every war has believed that they have both Right and The Higher Intelligence firmly and exclusively on their side.

    Someone quoted Cousin Winston — here’s another: You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs – Victory in spite of all terrors – Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.

    A Colonial, I have watched Britain clawing vainly to regain the glory of The Empire. Nor has France recovered from the loss of her colonies: Spain, Germany (for the time being), Belgium and Holland have put all that behind them. I don’t think the US will ever get over the imminent loss of her ability to maintain Superpower status.

    Please reconsider global politics, when the USA can no longer afford to play Clauswitzian hardball — the way Uncle Sam plays it, war is always an away-game. And China aka The Sleeping Dragon is just beginning to reclaim her heaven-given economic and cultural superiority.

    The US is our world’s only policeman. Can you imagine world politics without her?

    The old Chinese curse is not a future thing: we are already living in intersting times!!