by John Hawkins | September 22, 2003 8:44 pm
French President Jacques Chirac called on the United States to immediately transfer sovereignty in Iraq to the “hand-picked American puppet council,” to prevent Iraq from becoming another “Algerian-style quagmire.”
Mr. Chirac served in the military when a relatively-small native Algerian force overcame the vast might of the French military. Algeria declared its independence from France on July 5, 1962.
Below is a partial transcript of an interview which Mr. Chirac granted to our Paris bureau chief.
Q: Monsieur le President, parlez vous Anglais?
A: Oui…I mean…Yes, I speak English.
Q: Good, because I don’t know much more French…I was transferred from the Baghdad bureau in the post-war downsizing.
A: My sympathy to you and your family. Do you have any questions?
Q: Yes. The United States will introduce a resolution in the U.N. Security Council this week calling for more international support for the reconstruction of Iraq. Do you intend to veto the resolution?
A: No, we intend to demonstrate the strength of the Franco-American friendship by abstaining.
A: We believe that the U.S. should transfer sovereignty immediately to the Iraqi people.
Q: But the current governing council was hand-picked by the Americans and therefore lacks legitimacy.
A: Then sovereignty must be transferred to the hand-picked American puppet council.
Q: Do you ever say stuff just to annoy the Americans?
A: What!? And jeopardize the Franco-American friendship we have enjoyed these 225 years?
Q: Yes, that’s what I’m asking.
A: I don’t think about the reaction of the Americans before I say things. I just speak my mind — which is trained in the world’s best schools, and refined by a thousand years of French cultural superiority. I’m sympathetic to the Americans incapacity to comprehend my thought process. After all, their nation has yet to spawn any genuine philosophers or legitimate literature. All their finest minds are devoted to developing ways to make hamburgers faster and cheaper. Does that answer your question?
Q: I think so. Back to the Iraq issue — how much does your own personal military service during the Algerian war of independence shape your thinking about Iraq?
A: You mean the illegitimate rebellion in Algérie Française?
A: Well, there is a significant parallel between our battle against the Muslim extremists, and the situation the U.S. faces in Iraq today. I would hate to see an Algerian-style quagmire in Iraq.
Q: I’m not sure I see the connection. Wasn’t France a greedy, self-interested colonial ruler which had oppressed Algeria for 132 years, before the Algerians threw off the yoke of foreign domination?
A: That’s not nice a very nice way of saying it. You are an uncultured person.
Q: On the other hand, the United States has overthrown a dictator who had oppressed and murdered his own people and ignored international calls for disarmament. How are the situations alike?
A: Again, if you were French, you would have better manners than to ask a question like that.
Q: So what’s the parallel between Algeria and Iraq?
A: I cannot explain it to someone so dull of mind.
Q: Was it a mistake to overthrow Saddam?
A: No, absolutely not. I did not approve of the way he was overthrown. I felt it could have happened in another way.
Q: Such as…?
A: Perhaps with a series of levers and pulleys and heavy weights that drop onto spring-loaded catapult triggers.
Q: Do you think Saddam would have departed through political pressure alone?
A: I do. We could have offered him sanctuary in some friendly, progressive, cultured nation with a rich history of philosophy, art and literature.
Q: You think Saddam would have wanted to live in France?
A: I didn’t say France…but why not? Woody Allen likes it here.
Q: But do you really think Saddam could have been overthrown without a war?
A: War is always the worst solution; it should only be used in extreme situations.
Q: Like when you’re dealing with a despotic dictator who flouts United Nations resolutions, threatens his neighbors and uses torture and murder as political tools against his own people?
A: No. That situation would clearly call for ongoing dialogue. Extreme situations which require war would have to involve a threat to the economic interests of France.
Q: Do you share President Bush’s vision that the liberation of Iraq could be the catalyst for a democratic revolution in the Middle East?
A: I’d like to think so, but frankly, I don’t believe so.
Q: What do you believe?
A: Well, I never like to say that I ‘believe’ anything. There are no ideas worth believing. There is only expedience and transitory practically.
Q: Do you ever feel like telling President Bush that he is wrong about Iraq?
A: I never tell anyone they’re wrong, because that would imply that there are objective truths. There is no right or wrong. There is only today, and whatever I say.
Q: Will France ever send troops into Iraq?
A: Only if we have to retreat from some neighboring nation and use Iraq as a refuge…you know, if the Americans were still there to protect us.
Q: So, you do acknowledge that American military power is good, and has been used for good purposes.
A: O, we are certainly grateful for America’s contribution of a few troops during France’s valiant war against Hitler’s Germany. The Yanks really filled the gaps well. After all, the mighty French army couldn’t be everywhere at once.
Q: Are you concerned that some American columnists are writing that France is no longer an ally, and is perhaps even an enemy?
A: This is just another hiccup in a long, beautiful friendship between our nations. We can disagree without rupturing the friendship. That’s the definition of a true friendship.
Q: Do you really mean that France can disagree, and in fact, obstruct the United States, and still be a friend? How can that be?
A: Well…it’s really a subjective feeling. I feel friendly toward George Bush as I disagree with him and work behind the scenes to scuttle his plans.
A: Merci, Monsieur le President, pour vos pensées ce matin. (Thank you, Mr. President, for your thoughts this morning.)
Q: De rien. (It was nothing).
If you enjoyed this satire by Scott Ott, you can read more of his work at Scrappleface.
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