Chirac Tells Bush to Mind his Own Business
Telegraph — Chirac tells Bush to keep his nose out
President Jacques Chirac shattered the carefully contrived show of transatlantic amity at the Nato summit yesterday when he made an unprecedented attack on President George W Bush for meddling in the European Union’s business by supporting Turkey’s membership.
Mr Chirac is known for his sharp tongue but, even during the most bitter disputes last year over his opposition to war in Iraq, he never hurled personal abuse at Mr Bush. However, yesterday the French president lost any such reserve when he told Mr Bush that EU affairs were none of his business. Stung by Mr Bush’s call for the EU to give Turkey a firm date for accession, Mr Chirac responded: “He not only went too far but he has gone into a domain which is not his own. He has nothing to say on this subject. It is as if I were to tell the United States how it should conduct its relations with Mexico.”
Other than the fact that France is a used-to-be military and economic power with illusions of past grandeur and the U.S. is the World’s Sole Remaining Superpower, yes.
The comments will rank alongside his other recent broadsides: his rebuke to Tony Blair in October 2002, when he called the Prime Minister “very rude”, and his patronising response in February 2003 to eastern European candidate countries that supported America’s policy in Iraq, telling them they had “missed a good chance to keep quiet”.
Sometimes, I wish we’d let the Germans keep France.
UPDATE: AP — Bush Defies Chirac, Says Turkey Merits EU Place
President Bush said on Tuesday that Turkey belongs in the European Union and that Europe is “not the exclusive club of a single religion” in what amounted to a rejection of French President Jacques Chirac. In remarks prepared for delivery at a Istanbul university, Bush refused to back down in the face of Chirac’s criticism on Monday that Bush had no business urging the EU to set a date for Turkey to start entry talks into the union. “America believes that as a European power, Turkey belongs in the European Union,” Bush said.
Bush is to use the speech to try to mend relations between Muslims and Americans left tattered relations by the Iraq war. “We must strengthen the ties and trust and good will between ourselves and the peoples of the Middle East,” he said. Bush held up Turkey as an example of a Muslim democracy and said its entry to the EU would be “a crucial advance in relations between the Muslim world and the West, because you are part of both.” “Including Turkey in the EU would prove that Europe is not the exclusive club of a single religion, and it would expose the ‘clash of civilizations’ as a passing myth of history,” Bush said.
I’m not sure that it’s a myth. The jihadist forces we’re up against are unlikely to take Westernized Turkey seriously as a “Muslim” state. On the other hand, it makes sense to integrate Turkey into Western institutions to continue its move into modernity and away from fundamentalist Islam.
In related news:
France has blocked a U.S. bid to deploy NATO’s new strike force to safeguard Afghanistan’s elections, stoking tension between the two allies that fell out over the Iraq war, diplomats said Tuesday. “France, and to a lesser extent others such as Spain, are suspicious about using the NATO Response Force (NRF),” said one envoy at the alliance summit in Istanbul. “It says the force is not ready for this kind of environment and should not be used simply as a sticking plaster for troop shortages on routine operations.”
France’s opposition to a proposal that could help resolve NATO’s problems finding troops to make the September polls safe exasperated Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who pushed the idea hard at a meeting of allied defense ministers. A senior U.S. official said Rumsfeld had suggested that the alliance could sometimes use its Defense Planning Committee — on which France has no seat because it is not part of NATO’s integrated military structure — to authorize an NRF deployment.
One European official said the U.S.-French tussle was more about procedure. Paris is concerned that sending the NRF to Afghanistan could set a precedent for using it as a “toolbox” whenever NATO has problems pooling forces for an operation. “France worries … (this) would lead to an automatism jeopardizing the principle that a political decision must be taken before NATO commits to operations such as election protection in Afghanistan,” the official said.
In this case, France may be right. It’s unclear from the story why this force would be deployedfor a non-emergency, non-elite mission. Military alliances have to operate on consensus.