Paris -- George Bush is a "connard," say Parisians. That translates in a French dictionary as stupid bastard. Bush's "mistake," blares a French magazine cover. Bush's "war," says a French newspaper. "We don't hate America. We just think your president is an asshole. That's the French view," a Paris resident explained to me.
Don't bother telling the French that the canard is on their side. They are dogmatically certain that Bush is a Texan ignoramus.
Famously nepotistic, they accuse the Bush family of nepotism. Up to their eyeballs in dubious deals with Arab tyrants, they accuse Bush of greed for oil.
The French can't quite line up their attacks on Bush. According to them, he is at once too corrupt and too pious. His religious fervor worries them terribly.
The news on Wednesday in France was that Jacques Chirac -- whose proven record of corruption doesn't bother the French as much as Bush's imaginary one -- had decided to attend a let's-have-the-U.N.-reconstruct-Iraq meeting in St. Petersburg on the weekend. The three powers who did nothing to liberate Iraq -- Germany, France, and Russia -- plan to demand at the meeting that the country be placed in Kofi Annan's hands.
Saddam Hussein's enablers suddenly care about the fate of the Iraq people. They are deeply concerned about a "humanitarian emergency," according to French papers. Jacques Chirac has even offered a whopping million euros to the United Nations fund for refugee aid in Iraq, reports the International Herald Tribune.
"The reconstruction of Iraq is a matter for the United Nations and it alone," Chirac said on Tuesday. "It is up to the United Nations -- and it alone -- to take on the political, economic, humanitarian and administrative, reconstruction of Iraq."
Isn't the reconstruction of Iraq a matter for the Iraqi people? Chirac apparently forgot to mention them. No surprise there: the French-friendly United Nations could give him deals that the Iraqis he spurned wouldn't.
The same hand Chirac couldn't use to help the Iraqis under Saddam Hussein he will now use to meddle in Iraq's reconstruction.
The main thing for Chirac is to shaft America and Britain. "We are no longer in an era where one or two countries can control the fate of another country," he said in an obvious slight to George Bush and Tony Blair.
Chirac is a peanut-league Charles de Gaulle. He flexes muscles he doesn't have. His crass repositioning is just one more bluff designed to increase French power.
I recently asked a European why he opposed the liberation of the Iraqi people. Wasn't Saddam Hussein a menace to innocent people? I asked him. He readily agreed but said that he opposed the war because George Bush "is a f--king lunatic."
This appears to be the French view as well. They will take a tyrant over a "connard."
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