Chirac Lachrymose Over Conflict in Levant

Jacques Chirac is not usually in an enviable position, and, at least to many Americans, his comments often come off the wrong way. Still, I find his remarks on the Israeli raid on Lebanon to be absolutely tone deaf:

President Jacques Chirac said Friday that Israel’s military offensive against Lebanon is “totally disproportionate” and asked whether destroying Lebanon was not the ultimate goal.

However, he also said that rockets fired on Israel by Hezbollah and Hamas are “inadmissible, unacceptable and irresponsible.” Chirac implicitly suggested that Syria and Iran might be playing a role in the expanding crisis in the Middle East which, along with the Iranian nuclear issue, creates “a truly dangerous situation in which we must be very, very careful.” (AP)

First of all, news that’s hot off the wire can sometimes be wrong or provocative and inflammatory. Certainly there was no shortage of anti-Bush bias during the 2004 elections. Still, the subtext of what President Chirac is saying is quite disturbing.

I think reasonable people can disagree as to whether the Israeli response is “disproportionate”. I myself have no qualms about destroying an enemy’s infrastructure if civilian deaths can be kept to a minimum and the payoff in psychological damage to the enemy is great enough (think about General William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea).

President Chirac’s snide suggestion is that Israel is trying to destroy Lebanon, when it is in fact Hezbollah that wants not only to destroy Israel, but to wipe it completely off the map. Such an insinuation is insulting at best. Fortunately, unlike Third World professional victims, Israel doesn’t whine about its hurt feelings. Israel, for all its flaws, is strong and confident. Perhaps that’s what infuriates President Chirac so.

Moreover, Lebanon has been of Gallic interest for the better part of a millennium. The Levantine kingdoms of the Crusades were, after all, French, and the French have resented any non-French outside influence in Lebanon, including that of Syria. Would that the French would also be more forthright about the Iranian influence; but I suppose asking France to stand up to a real power that might just strike back is asking too much.

(Hat-tip: Israellycool)

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

9 thoughts on “Chirac Lachrymose Over Conflict in Levant”

  1. Chirac has been an anti-Semite and towel boy for Arab tyrants from the get-go. No news here.

  2. As a french born, I do not think Chirac represent my opinion, I can’t say more, I agree with you that this man is out of the reality.

  3. @John Dunshee: You are right.
    A possible answer: the rise (67-69) of a “bonapartist” vision of France in the world, leading to a posture and a huge error in economy (the french greatness whatever the price to pay, an opposition to America firstly – so as to seek a rebirth or a “renaissance” materialized in a third way that’s neither capitalist nor communist (utopia in my opinion) ). Then crises (of course), then came Mitterand (socialist) then Chirac (quite the same as a matter of fact), 26 years (81-07) of “success” :-)

    If you have some french take a look at this:

    (GDP USA – France : graphics are worth thousands words)

    Of special interest the second one:
    period 79-06, no comment!

    Honestly, I can’t agree with this “strange” posture, the result is a bright a fierce decline. But it could be the price to pay to move out of this (when the defenders of this system are their best ennemies). What counts is the real people.

  4. Is this the same Chirac who warned potential state sponsors of terrorism several months back that France retained it’s nuclear weapons and would use them? Couldn’t be!

    Unless…this is just another case of the classic European double standard; one standard for them, a much different one for Yankees and Jews. What a convenient way to live and think.

  5. @ Michael Hiteshew : Yes it is the same, talks only, shake hands he’s good; in a shake he will deliver the exact opposite message. To note he does exactly the same internally, thus france became a huge mess.

    Classic double standard AND anti-americanism, misperception of real world.

    2007, french Presidential Elections. Guess what, will he help N. Sarkozy (more atlantist, coming from the same party) or S. Royal (Socialist, trapped by an old fashionned marxist, far leftist inspired socialist party anti-capitalist, anti-globalization, Anti everything but ideologies and “great” ideas, the will to change man…) ? He will choose (95-5) the second one! Why? Because the candidate is more conform to the french political tradition that is coming from from french bureaucracy, a culture coming from the monarchic absolutism.

    I disagree so much!

  6. Joelf,

    Thanks for making the effort to comment on this blog. In English, no less. We appreciate a wide range of voices. The more global we can make these discussions, the better.

  7. @ Michael Hiteshew: It is a pleasure to read your articles. Really a pleasure, a kind of fresh air in the stifling atmosphere of a proud declining (old) europe. It is not that france is non pleasant place, museums, castles, a nice place to visit the past (often idealized); we can’t build a bright future two eyes in the rear view mirror both feet on the brake pedal! France specifically has to adapt to real world. To do this radical movement it will need time and a new generation of politicians if the french people does not choose “the past, the greatness, and an arrogant posture”. A weak europe is not a master trump as regards the future geopolitical game. Many people are leaving this stifling mess, seeking a future in UK, in Ireland, in USA. France is becoming “the country of the impossible”, as a french scientist told me! History will judge politicians like Mitterand, Chirac and this period as an error!
    I am leaving! joelf

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