Today’s Le Monde points out the odd dichotomy in American policy towards “Old Europe.” It seems that the US has been playing nice with Germany and giving the French government the cold shoulder.
Le pr?sident fran?ais, Jacques Chirac, a achev? mercredi 24 septembre une visite de quatre jours ? New York qui n’a pas permis de concilier les positions de la France et des Etats-Unis, les deux pays apparaissant toujours aussi ?loign?s sur l’apr?s-guerre en Irak. L’absence de tout geste conciliant de Washington en faveur de M. Chirac a contrast? avec l’ouverture vis-?-vis du chancelier allemand, Gerhard Schr?der, qui fut l’un des opposants les plus d?termin?s ? la guerre.
Apr?s un entretien, le premier en seize mois, le pr?sident am?ricain, George W. Bush, a annonc? lui-m?me que le diff?rend am?ricano-allemand ?tait “termin?”, une d?claration qui visait manifestement ? enfoncer un coin entre Paris et Berlin. ” La premi?re chose que je lui ai dite est : ‘Nous avons eu des divergences et elles sont termin?es. Nous allons travailler ensemble’ “, a d?clar? le pr?sident am?ricain. [...]
Jacques Chirac a toutefois ?cart? toute faille dans l’axe franco-allemand. ” Il n’y a pas l’ombre d’une divergence de vues entre la position allemande et la position fran?aise. C’est clair et incontestable “, a-t-il affirm?.
Iraq: Franco-American differences persist
On Wednesday, 24 September, the French president, Jacques Chirac, ended a four-day visit to New York which proved unable to reconcile French and American positions, leaving both countries apparently as far apart as ever on the post-war fate of Iraq. The lack of any conciliatory gesture towards Mr Chirac stands out in comparison to overtures towards the German chancellor Gerhard Schr?der, who was one of the most determined opponents of the war.
After an interview – his first in 16 months – the American president George W. Bush announced that German-American differences had been “ended”, a declaration that was clearly intended to drive a wedge between Paris and Berlin. The American president declared that, “The first thing I said to him was that ‘We have had our differences and they are now finished. We will work together.’” [...]
Jacques Chirac, however, ruled out any break in the Franco-German alliance. He maintained that,”There isn’t even the shadow of a difference between the German and French positions.”
I have seen some of the European press entertain the idea that the reason the Bush administration is targeting France rather than Germany is because of the demographic importance of German-Americans. There is no way that this is true. Although a large part of the American population – a fifth to a third – has some German ancestry, very, very few Americans identify with Germany in any way. The only real difference is that France has a UN veto and a fairly strong diplomatic presence, and since the Bush administration is trying to get more diplomatic and UN support, dissing France really seems dumb. It would have made more sense to be conciliatory towards France and rotten towards Germany.
The German press also seems unimpressed with Bush’s advances. I suppose the Bush administration may be hoping the Social-Democrats will lose their next election and be replaced by a more pro-American government. I doubt that the German opposition – the CDU – would suddenly change the country’s policy on Iraq even if they won the next election, since the party leader’s position on Iraq has put her under fire from her own side. Besides, a few months ago American officials were meeting with Angela Merkel, the CDU leader, an act which is the diplomatic equivalent of a slap in the face. To start talking up the current German leader makes little sense if your hope is to be rid of him.
Or is there some other point here that I’m missing? Is it possible that the Bush administration really does determine policy on the basis of something as crass as simple ethnic prejudice?