Wednesday, February 19, 2003

ArabNews: Chirac Outburst an Error
"The French position on Iraq is not only 100 percent right, it is clearly in tune with European public opinion; the demonstrations across Europe last Saturday prove that. It is quite understandable then that Chirac and his government should feel exasperated with other European governments who do not see the issue as they do. But bullying is not going to win converts. What makes his outburst even less comprehensible is that Eastern European support for US is hardly of major importance in the first place. If, apart from the UK and Australia, the only support that George Bush can find is from places such as Latvia and Slovakia, his case is not exactly strengthened.

"With Europe so divided on Iraq, what is needed is calm, intelligent diplomacy to convince those who would support Bush's war that such adventurism is dangerous. What is not needed is petulance and threats from the very man whose job it is. President Chirac may be frustrated that he is not getting his way with other European leaders, but that is neither reason nor excuse for such bad behavior. He should have known better than to make the same foolish mistake as George Bush, to try and crack the whip and force everyone into line. It was a blunder. All he has done is infuriate the Central and East Europeans, making them and the existing members of the EU who support the Bush line even more determined to stick to it.

"It is not the Eastern Europeans who have missed an opportunity to keep silent; rather it is Chirac. France has earned itself the respect of much of the world because of its stand against the US over Iraq. This is not the time to throw it away. The cause is far too important."

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