Saturday, April 23, 2005

Homer, who do you hate most, Italy or France?

Nobody ever chooses Italy...

Without wanting to descend to crude French-bashing, two recent developments are, at best, annoying, at worst alarming.

First with regard to the China-Taiwan situation. This has not received anything like the exposure it deserves:

French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has said Paris will continue to push for the lifting of the European Union's arms embargo on China.

Mr Raffarin was speaking at the start of a three-day visit to China.

He also said France had no objection to China's anti-secession law, authorising the use of force against Taiwan should it move to declare independence.

This is, in my view, little short of mind boggling. The French are already the key movers behind the proposed lifting of the arms embargo on the PRC. They further made the ghastly move of sending a substantial naval contingent to participate in PLAN exercises of the coast of Taiwan during the Taiwanese election, an activity the Chinese routinely undertake with the aim of intimidating the Taiwanese and reminding them of the consequences of making the "wrong" decision. To come out at this time, when other EU nations are trying - albeit tentatively - to tick the Chinese off for overstepping the boundaries, and effectively offer support to a dictatorship that has one of the worst human rights records in the world and executes more people annually than the rest of the world combined in potentially overrunning a legitimate democracy if nothing short of jaw dropping.

Second of all, this story on the Sudan, again little highlighted in the various news media:

...Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who raised the conflict at wide-ranging NATO talks in Lithuania, said it should be ready to offer help with logistics and planning if asked.

"If there is a request, I would hope NATO would activate quickly … We all have a responsibility to do what we can to alleviate the suffering in Darfur," she said.

However French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier disagreed that there was a role for NATO in Darfur and stressed that Africans should retain the lead in peace efforts.

"NATO does not have a calling to be the gendarme of the world," he told a news conference at the same meeting.

Do the French want NATO killed off? Signs point to quite possibly. And, of course, there's the old chestnut of French Africa policy, which has long been the most disgraceful (and, again, underreported) operated by any major Western power:

French officials see the European Union as better suited to helping in the region than NATO.

Oh, I'll bet they do.

But of course, it's only President Bush, with his opposition to the ICC, who is prepared to play politics with the lives of African peasantry.

Naturally, as a stony-faced, hard-nosed realist I should not be surprised by any of this. And indeed I'm not. What does get up my nose, however, is the continued conceit in some circles that the French are - in contrast, of course, to the United States - deeply cuddly and seductively iliberal.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me...I'm Italian, all I am going to tell you is not to hate any countries for no reason...I can't stand it when people call me 'gringa' or that white girl...I have a name, and I totally dislike when people disrespect other countries or there u go...don't hate

4:11 PM  

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