It has been a banner week for the French. First there was this:
The government of Charles de Gaulle held hundreds of foreigners, including at least three Britons, in an internment camp near Toulouse for up to four years after the second world war, according to secret documents.
The papers, part of a cache of 12,000 photocopied illegally by an Austrian-born Jew, reveal the extent to which French officials collaborated with their fleeing Nazi occupiers even as their country was being liberated. They also show that, when the war was over, France went to extraordinary lengths to hide as much evidence of that collaboration as possible.
Then there was this:
SADDAM HUSSEIN believed he could avoid the Iraq war with a bribery strategy targeting Jacques Chirac, the President of France, according to devastating documents released last night.
Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France – having been granted oil contracts – would veto any American plans for war. . . .
Saddam was convinced that the UN sanctions – which stopped him acquiring weapons – were on the brink of collapse and he bankrolled several foreign activists who were campaigning for their abolition. He personally approved every one.
To keep America at bay, he focusing on Russia, France and China – three of the five UN Security Council members with the power to veto war. Politicians, journalists and diplomats were all given lavish gifts and oil-for-food vouchers.
Finally, the Coup de Grace, to borrow a phrase:
French President Jacques Chirac is calling on the European Union to lift a long-standing arms embargo against China.
“France supports lifting the embargo,” Chirac said in an interview with China’s official news agency, Xinhua, adding it no longer reflected present day realities.
Today, European countries are divided over lifting the embargo, with Sweden and the Netherlands opposed to doing so. The United States is also against it.
Chirac noted “stong reservations” on the part of Washington, but said Paris would push for a swift lifting of the embargo. His remarks were posted on the French presidency’s Web site, and came ahead of Chirac’s trip to China on Friday.
Our allies the French. These are the people who John Kerry thinks we should work with. Instructive.