Republicans make France their whipping boy

3rd September 2004, Comments 0 comments

NEW YORK, Sept 2 (AFP) - More than a year after falling out with the United States over the Iraq war, France is still a prime target for the rage of Republicans, who are not showing much amour for the longtime US ally.

NEW YORK, Sept 2 (AFP) - More than a year after falling out with the United States over the Iraq war, France is still a prime target for the rage of Republicans, who are not showing much amour for the longtime US ally.  

Democrat John Kerry may be enemy number one but France is a close number two at the chest-thumping Republican national convention, where the word Paris is code for weakness, indecision and international cooperation.  

"Senator Kerry has made it clear that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations," Senator Zell Miller said in a thundering address to the party faithful on Wednesday.  

"Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending. I want Bush to decide," he said, drawing cheers from the crowd.  

Throughout their four-day gala, Republicans have painted President George W. Bush as the man to trust for national security after September 11 - and Kerry as a dangerous appeaser.  

They have ridiculed his recent talk about a more "sensitive" war on terror, hammered him for trying to vote both sides of issues in the Senate and lambasted his remarks at forging international consensus for US war plans.  

"Senator Kerry denounces American action when other countries don't approve, as if the whole object of our foreign policy were to please a few persistent critics," Vice President Dick Cheney said in his speech Wednesday.  

"He talks about leading a more sensitive war on terror, as though Al-Qaeda will be impressed with our softer side," Cheney said.   But a delegation of half a dozen members of France's ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), here to observe the convention, played down the repeated barbs at France.  

"You can't take too seriously what you hear in a convention," said Philipe Briand, a UMP member of the French parliament.  

"If you are a little  sensitive, you come away somewhat angry," Briand said. "But if you know it's just part of the campaign, it's no big deal."  

France helped lead opposition to the Iraq war on the UN Security Council, which set off an orgy of French-bashing nationwide last year.  

Bottles of champagne were emptied into sewers, French cheeses went unsold on store shelves and angry US politicians called to rename America's favourite snack "Freedom Fries."  

After it emerged during the presidential campaign that Kerry spoke the language, he reportedly stopped giving interviews with foreign media in French, for fear of giving the Bush camp more ammunition.  

The connection between anti-French anger and Kerry's policy statements, which sometimes do not sound much different than what comes out of the French government, has been an easy one for critics to make.  

"Just a few months ago, John Kerry kind of leaked out that claim that certain foreign leaders who opposed our removal of Saddam Hussein prefer him," former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani told the convention this week.  

"That raises the risk that he might well accommodate his position to their viewpoint," he said.  

Giuliani went on and attacked several European nations for their positions on terrorism, taking Italy to task for its handling of the Achille Lauro ship hijacking in 1985.  

That may have been a bit of a faux pas - Italy is now one of the staunchest US allies on the war on terror, robbing Republicans of at least one European nation to target with scorn and abuse.  

But they shouldn't worry: they'll always have Paris.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

 

 

 

 

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