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Jewish World Review April 2, 2003 / 29 Adar II, 5763

Michael Ledeen

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French Lies: Take the foreign minister at his word | As I am one of the many who assumed that the British newspapers were accurate when they reported that French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin refused to answer when asked who he wanted to win the war in Iraq, I am most grateful to have been set right by the foreign ministry's spokesman in Paris, and I want to publicly thank the French consulate here in Washington for sending it to me personally. That's the sort of attention I appreciate. Anyway, here's what the spokesman has to say: "We," he writes in his usual royalist way, "are indignant with the way that certain press correspondents' presented the remarks made by the foreign minister."

The spokesman says that Villepin wasn't silent. He "simply referred the reporter to earlier remarks." It seems a bit unlikely, but the important point comes next: "Let me remind you of what the minister said on March 24 'We hope that the United States will win this war quickly.'" And, in conclusion, a quick rap across the knuckles: "Under these circumstances, it is unacceptable for France's positions to be distorted or misrepresented in this manner."

The spokesman is right, it is quite unacceptable for so many of us to distort or misrepresent the words of the French foreign minister, when he had actually been totally consistent. And I want to be one of the first to apologize. I should have checked with the embassy in Washington. Had I done so, it would have been obvious that it was churlish of me to suggest that he might have been embarrassed by the question. Imagine! He just couldn't be bothered to help his listeners. So he told them to stop annoying him, and go back to his words of the 24th.

Perhaps he didn't want to repeat his support of the United States in London, because some of the Brits might have then asked him if he included them in his good wishes. But again, I don't want to make matters worse by niggling criticisms or purely theoretical explanations. He said what he said, and that's that.

In fact, there was no reason for him to be embarrassed by the question.

He had already provided a perfectly good lie on the 24th, and he didn't have to dream up a new one in London. For whatever Villepin (or Chirac for that matter) said, in London or Paris, on the 24th or whenever, the fact of the matter is that France has done everything in its power to prevent the coalition from winning this war. Indeed, France took an amazing step, whose only possible consequence was to prolong the war and to maximize casualties on both sides. That took place when France and Germany threatened the Turkish opposition parties with total excommunication from Europe if they dared vote in favor of permitting the U.S. to use Turkish bases in the liberation of Iraq.

When the Turkish vote was taken, it was manifestly clear that we were going to war, and that the Turkish bases were very important in the conduct of the war, since they provided us with the wherewithal to quickly create a northern front, and to close in on Baghdad. By depriving us of this possibility, we had to reroute an enormous quantity of material and an enormous number of soldiers, over many thousands of sea miles, to the peril of our fighting men and women.

That's what I should have said in the first place. I shouldn't have paid so much attention to the British press (perfidious Albion!). I should have just noted that the French lied again.

As Colin Powell and George Bush have learned to their dismay and to our great cost.

Maybe the next time France invades Africa we'll call for volunteers to fight with the brave people of the Ivory Coast, as so many of them have been publicly imploring us to do.

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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.


03/31/03: Why muzzle Saddam's foes?
03/28/03: The post-war terror threat
03/26/03: All Fronts: Military war, political war, psychological war
03/24/03: More Bad News for Daschle: Taking out terror of all nationalities
03/21/03: The Killer Pneu: Virus terror from China
03/13/03: Iran: Nuclear suicide bombers?
03/11/03: A Theory: What if there's method to the Franco-German madness?
03/05/03: The Iranian-Election Revolt: The people speak. The West won't listen
02/19/03: The willful blindness of those who will not see
02/12/03: The Europeans Know More Than They Now Pretend? They choose to dawdle and obstruct
02/03/03: Monumental failure: Nelson Mandela had promise
01/30/03: Elevation: The president knows what it's all about
01/29/03: No Leader: France's Chirac is all about personal interest
01/28/03: The Axis of Evil Redux: Same place, a year later
01/27/03: The Return of the Ayatollah: Washington could afford a little more attention on Iran
01/13/03: How we could lose
01/09/03: Fish are Better than Women: Gauging U.S. priorities
01/07/03: The Shape of Things to Come: The terror masters are now waiting for us
12/20/02: A Prophecy for the New Year --- Faster, please!
12/16/02: Scud Surrender: The "W" factor
12/13/02: The Heart of Darkness: The mullahs make terror possible
12/12/02: The Real War
12/09/02: Tom Friedman's Reformation: His Iran
11/26/02: How Tyrannies Fall: Opportunity time in Iran
11/22/02: The Blind Leading the Blind: The New York Times and the Iranian crisis
11/13/02: The Temperature Rises: We should liberate Iran first --- now
11/05/02: End of the Road: Iran's Mohammed Khatami, on his way out
10/29/02: The Angleton Dialogues, Contnued: What George Tenet doesn’t know
10/24/02: The Iranian Comedy Hour: In the U.S., the silence continues
10/16/02: Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton
10/01/02: The real foe
09/27/02: The Iranian String Quartet: The mullahs get increasingly nervous
09/25/02: The Dubya Doctrine
09/23/02: Intelligence? What intelligence?
09/12/02: America's revenge: To turn tyrannies into democracies
09/10/02: Iran & Afghanistan & Us: We'll have to deal with the mullahcracy, sooner or later
09/04/02: Iran, according to the Times: All the nonsense that's fit to print
08/21/02: Life and death of Abu Nidal tells us a great deal about our enemies
08/08/02: Can You Keep a Secret?: The media silence on Iran
08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
08/02/02: Propping Up the Terror Masters: Europe's Solana on tour
07/16/02: Bush vs. the Mullahs: Getting on the side of the Iranian freedom fighters
07/12/02: The State Department Goes Mute: It's official: State has no message
07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
06/05/02: Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel?
06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen