Friday, February 25, 2011

Another Rumor

Well, now it's rumored that Sarkozy offered the foreign ministry to Villepin! Hard to believe. Would DDV accept? Maybe--among other things, the position would be a guaranteed stay out of jail free card. Not to mention sweet revenge. Stay tuned. And what if DDV leaked the story himself? Too many layers of irony here.

Meanwhile, the word that it's Juppé continues to spread.

Rostand Replies to Marly

The diplomats who blasted Sarkozy's foreign policy in Le Monde styled themselves le groupe Marly. Another group of anonymous diplomats responds today in Le Figaro, naturally, signing itself le groupe Rostand. The names, it seems, come from the cafés where the respective groups meet. Now, it so happens that when I am in Paris, the Rostand is one of my regular hangouts, a place where I often give rendez-vous. I would not want anyone to think, however, that I am part of the Rostand group. I absolutely deny any such imputation. But I do approve of the choice of the Rostand: the café has a lovely view of the Jardins du Luxembourg and serves a rich café crème.

But what's the point of all this anonymity, since journalists undoubtedly know who the signers are, and so does the Élysée?

Juppé in for MAM

As I predicted yesterday, MAM has become too much of a liability to be kept on, and Alain Juppé will replace her. Or so the rumor goes. But as rumors go, this one looks pretty solid, with the AFP attributing confirmation to "a minister."

I met Juppé once. My impressions: smart, sharp-tongued, arrogant. He's become slightly less arrogant over the years, and in his blog he sometimes comes across as downright warm and fuzzy. The exile in Canada may have mellowed him. In any case, he's certainly a more substantial presence at the Quai than either MAM or Kouchner.

"Nous avons des valeurs!"

On France2 last night, Dominique de Villepin, fresh from his retrouvailles with l'ami Nicolas, looking ebullient and full of vigor, declared forthrightly that France had no difficulty deciding what to do in regard to the Libyan uprising because "we have values" and the attempt to overthrow the dictatorial and mercurial rule of Col. Kadhafi (Gaddafi, Qadaffi, etc.) was a golden opportunity to demonstrate them. In assessing those values, he might want to take a look at this remarkable retrospective of French-Libyan relations in the Khadafi era. France does indeed have values, and when Khadafi was une valeur sûre, it invested heavily in him, but now that his value is plummeting, it's dumping its portfolio as quickly as it can.

Of course it's a cheap shot to pick on France and DDV this way. Who isn't compromised by life in this vale of tears? When I start up my car this morning, I'll be paying tribute to the Saudi king and the Gulf emirs and "the butcher of Benghazi" myself, so it ill becomes me to mock the leaders who grease the skids to perdition. Still, to watch Villepin with his broad smile and breathless delivery congratulate himself for having always been an apostle of Arab liberation is a bit much. In such circumstances, a little circumspection, a little humility, a little shame at the hypocrisies and compromises to which we are condemned seems called for. To me, anyway. Secular though I am to the core, the doctrine of original sin speaks, to my mind, to something deep in the human predicament.

MAM Defends Herself

The foreign minister was decidedly not pleased by the critique of French foreign policy published by a group of anonymous diplomats in Le Monde. She comes out swinging:

Non, en janvier il n'y avait pas dans les notes et télégrammes [diplomatiques révélés par le site WikiLeaks] de quoi anticiper ce qui se passe aujourd'hui dans le monde arabe. La France n'a pas su comprendre ce qui était en train de se produire. Pas plus qu'aucun autre pays d'ailleurs. Est-ce que cet aveuglement général nous excuse ? Evidemment pas. Cela nous oblige à réfléchir sur les causes profondes de ce manque de discernement qui ne date pas d'hier.

Hmm. So why was the ambassador to Tunisia sacked if nobody could have foreseen what happened? Mightn't he have been useful in reflecting on the "deep causes of this lack of discernment?"  And mightn't the fact that powerful people in the Tunisian Old Regime had the ear of powerful people in the French government have contributed to that strange lack of discernment? MAM seems to have overlooked this obvious point. Or was it some anonymous diplomat who was assigned to pen her statement for her?