October 19, 2003

Too Kind to Jacques Chirac

Events have convinced Abiola Lapite that he has been too kind to French President Jacques Chirac:

Foreign Dispatches: By Their Fruits Shall Ye Know Them
 

If it may have seemed at times that my criticisms of French foreign policy were somewhat one-sided, I offer the following article as evidence on my behalf:
Mahathir Thanks Chirac for Support

MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has thanked French President Jacques Chirac for blocking a European Union declaration condemning his comments last week that Jews "rule the world by proxy," news reports said today.

Chirac, backed by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, stopped the EU from ending a summit on Friday with a harshly worded statement deploring Mahathir's speech, which also included suggestions that Jews get "others to fight and die for them."

A French diplomat, who asked not to be named, said while Chirac disagreed with Mahathir's strident views, he argued that an EU summit declaration "would not have been appropriate."

Malaysian newspapers said Mahathir had expressed his gratitude to Chirac for his "understanding" of the speech he made at the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the world's largest Muslim grouping, in Malaysia last Thursday.

[............]

"I never thought the Europeans would be against me," [Hmm, I wonder why he'd have thought that ...] the New Sunday Times quoted him as saying. "I can't understand them. I'm glad that Chirac at least understands. I would like to thank him publicly." (emphasis added)

What an understanding fellow this Chirac is, isn't he? For Chirac is an honourable man, as are Mahathir and all the rest of the OIC leaders; so are they all, all honourable men ...

It is hard to disagree: not only a thief, not only somebody who has little sense of what the interests of the industrial core and the world are, but an anti-semite as well.

Posted by DeLong at October 19, 2003 01:19 PM | TrackBack

Comments

The comments by Mahathir were despicable, but not a single Asian minister in the audience that heard him condemned the comments, nor did European ministers. Chirac is a louse, but Chirac does not dictate to other European ministers. Where is the condemnation in Europe. Where is England or Germany or Spain?

Posted by: lise on October 19, 2003 01:42 PM

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/18/opinion/18SAT2.html

Islamic Anti-Semitism

It is hard to know what is more alarming — a toxic statement of hatred of Jews by the Malaysian prime minister at an Islamic summit meeting this week or the unanimous applause it engendered from the kings, presidents and emirs in the audience. The words uttered by the prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, in a speech to the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference on Thursday were sadly familiar: Jews, he asserted, may be few in number, but they seek to run the world.

"The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy," he said. "They get others to fight and die for them." Muslims are "up against a people who think," he said, adding that the Jews "invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others."

When Israeli officials noted that such talk brought Hitler to mind, the assembled leaders were mystified. Yemen's foreign minister said he agreed entirely with his Malaysian colleague, adding, "Israelis and Jews control most of the economy and the media in the world." The Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Maher, called the speech "a very, very wise assessment." Even the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, said the speech was "very correct." ...

Posted by: anne on October 19, 2003 01:51 PM

The anti-semite thing is losing its effect. While what the malaysian pm said was inflammatory, it was literally about jewish influence on policy not a hatred of jews. Can those who are "comfortable" with the level of jewish influence on US foreign policy address whether this influence exists (or is justified) without the ad hominem attacks ? Its a rather boring tactic...
Think about it, Bush claims to go to Muslim countries to garner support and in the case of Indonesia, only visits bali, the sole Hindu part of the country. Its a sham, why aren't muslim leaders allowed to call him out on what appear to be false motives ? Even if it approaches diplomatic bad taste....face it man, he simply struck a match and now all the establishment types are screaming fire. It was the fuel in the air that made this such an explosive incident, not the statement itself...the pm knew that and knew that he was leaving office in a few months, could afford to make it and sit back to watch the fireworks.

Posted by: self on October 19, 2003 01:52 PM

The Malaysian Minister's comments were vicious and every minister in the audience should have condemned the hate-filled comments but none did. The comments were typical for Mahathir, and not to be in any way discounted. European leaders have to stand completely against such hate mongering.

Posted by: Ari on October 19, 2003 02:13 PM

"The comments by Mahathir were despicable, but not a single Asian minister in the audience that heard him condemned the comments, nor did European ministers. Chirac is a louse, but Chirac does not dictate to other European ministers. Where is the condemnation in Europe. Where is England or Germany or Spain?"

I am sorry, people, but...
- even though I am NOT a big fan of Chirac myself,
- and even though I personally think Mahathir Mohamad's comments represent a clear incitement to hathred of the Jewish people, i.e. an anti-semitic statement;

... it does seem to me that, as usual, as soon as there is the slightest chance that a European politician might qualify for anti-semitism, every American and his dog starts wagging their tales*.

Unfortunately, you will have to read the truth about this affair in French:

M. Chirac "s'est associé à la condamnation de ces propos antisémites faite vendredi par la présidence italienne au nom de l'ensemble des pays de l'Union européenne", a affirmé Mme Colonna. "La France condamne elle-même de tels propos qu'elle considère comme totalement inacceptables", a ajouté la porte-parole de l'Elysée

La porte-parole du Haut représentant de l'UE pour la politique étrangère Javier Solana a également réfuté les accusations du Maariv. "Tous les chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement étaient d'accord pour condamner les propos de Mahathir Mohamad lors du sommet", a indiqué la porte-parole Cristina Gallach, interrogée par l'AFP. "Il avait été simplement décidé que la présidence italienne ferait une déclaration séparée au nom de l'UE car les conclusions d'un conseil européen ne se prêtent pas à ce genre de réaction sur des déclarations", a expliqué Mme Gallach. "La référence à ces propos a donc été retirée du projet de conclusions du conseil et la présidence a fait sa déclaration", a-t-elle ajouté.

Dans un communiqué daté de jeudi mais publié seulement samedi sur le site internet de la présidence italienne, l'UE "déplore profondément" les déclarations de Mahathir Mohamad.

Source: LEMONDE.FR | 10.19.03 | "Polémique franco-israélienne au sujet des propos antisémites du premier ministre malaisien"

* unless, of course, we are talking about the Governator elect who is in fact an ex-Nazi sympathizer... in which case it's all excused, because, well, I don't get it, sorry.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 19, 2003 03:47 PM

Uh, "self," did you miss this part? That the Jews:

"invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others."

In other words, Mahathir thinks that persecuting Jews is right -- it only _appears_ to be wrong because we cunningly thought up those known evils, democracy and human rights. And he's also apparently of the opinion that we shouldn't enjoy equal rights with others.

Before you go accusing others of ad hominem arguments, familiarize yourself with what the bastard actually said.

Posted by: karl on October 19, 2003 03:57 PM

Perhaps Abiola Lapite isn't right in leaving to Mr Mahathir himself the interpretation of the motives behind Chirac's opposition to including the condemnation of Mr Mahathir's remarks into the final declaration of the EU summit. As quoted by Le Monde, the spokeswoman of the high representative of the EU for foreign affairs, Christine Gallach, stated that the condemnation was not included into the final declaration of the EU summit for formal reasons, but the heads of state - including Chirac - agreed on publishing a separate statement by the (Italian) EU presidency in the name of all EU governments instead.

This is the URL of the article by Le Monde (only available in French, I'm sorry):
http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3218,36-338701,0.html

The - admittedly short and lukewarm - statement can be found under:
http://www.ueitalia2003.it/EN/LaPresidenzaInforma/Documenti/20031017020_Mahatir.htm

Posted by: Konrad on October 19, 2003 04:03 PM

Sorry for posting that Le Monde article again - Jean-Philippe was faster than me - and sorry for insisting on the issue and giving another link with a newer - and perhaps to most of you more credible - version of the story by the (liberal) Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz (don't worry, this time it is in English, neither French nor Ivrit).

http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/351500.html

Posted by: Konrad on October 19, 2003 04:22 PM

It is unfortunate that Islamic leaders are behaving like this.

It is certainly the case that historically Islam, up until the founding of Israel which muslims not unnaturally feel was unfair to the locals, had a much better tradition of respect for Judaism than Christiandom.

Posted by: Neil Craig on October 19, 2003 04:48 PM

It is unfortunate that Islamic leaders are behaving like this.

It is certainly the case that historically Islam, up until the founding of Israel which muslims not unnaturally feel was unfair to the locals, had a much better tradition of respect for Judaism than Christiandom.

Posted by: Neil Craig on October 19, 2003 04:48 PM

It is unfortunate that Islamic leaders are behaving like this.

It is certainly the case that historically Islam, up until the founding of Israel which muslims not unnaturally feel was unfair to the locals, had a much better tradition of respect for Judaism than Christiandom.

Posted by: Neil Craig on October 19, 2003 04:49 PM

just plain "wow" brad!
you walked right past the statement "Chirac disagreed with Mahathir's strident views" like it wasn't there and bought Mahathir's patently needy totally uninformed read of the news from the EU. I aint never seen you ever do anything like that
before.

Posted by: eugene murphy on October 19, 2003 05:38 PM

just plain "wow" brad!
you walked right past the statement "Chirac disagreed with Mahathir's strident views" like it wasn't there and bought Mahathir's patently needy totally uninformed read of the news from the EU. I aint never seen you ever do anything like that
before.

Posted by: eugene murphy on October 19, 2003 05:39 PM

Prof De Long, I think that on that one, you owe your reader a rectification:

1- All Europeans leaders have criticised Mahamatir's speech. The fact that the version of the story by Ha'aretz newspaper has been adopted without fact-checking by much of the American press and rightwing bloggers is not surprising. As one of your frequent readers, I expect better from you.

2- Even if the story were true, it would certainly not be a proof of Chirac's antisemitism. Is it really helpful to have heads of states criticizing each other each time one of them says something stupid? Remember that the president of the European Union right now is Berlusconi who a few weeks ago praised Mussolini's regime. What is his legitimacy to lecture the Malaysian head of state for making a foolish speech?

Posted by: fberthol on October 19, 2003 07:52 PM

Eugene: It's properly "I ain't never seen you do NOTHING like that before".

Posted by: Zizka on October 19, 2003 08:41 PM

Does anyone have any idea why it is that the Western world seems to have such mediocrities for leaders, lately? The U.S. has George W. Bush, France has Jacques Chirac, Britain has Tony Blair, Italy has Berlusconi, Germany has Schroeder, and Japan has Koizumi. Not all of them are bad leaders (Bush and Chirac are, IMHO (and dubiously elected to boot!) and Berlusconi too (though he's unquestionably elected non-anomalously, I think)). However, I don't think that you could call any of them *good* leaders either. Koizumi had promise and generated enthusiasm when first elected, but has turned out to be rather ineffectual.

Does anyone know *why*? I know that, by the law of averages, we can't expect good leadership everywhere, constantly, but this seems to be a bit of an unusual low point. Is it just that leaders always look better in retrospect, reading the history books, than when viewing them today in the nitty-gritty of politics? Is it some fundamental decay of western democracy?

BTW, does anyone know what the consequences would have been had the E.U. issued its condemnation of Mahatir's speech? Back, I think, in around 2000 or so, the U.S. Congress considered acknowledging that yes, Virginia, what the Turks did to the Armenians in the 1910s WAS genocide. The Turks effectively blackmailed, if I recall correctly, Bill Clinton into blocking the resolution by threatening stop doing stuff that made them more easily integrable into the E.U. I'm not sure where I stand on the morality of Clinton's decision (the memory is hazy enough that I'm not sure). Did the Malaysians somehow have some kind of leverage to make it undesirable for the French and Greeks to condemn Mahatir's speech?

Posted by: Julian Elson on October 19, 2003 09:18 PM

>>As quoted by Le Monde, the spokeswoman of the high representative of the EU for foreign affairs, Christine Gallach, stated that the condemnation was not included into the final declaration of the EU summit for formal reasons.<<

Meaning that there was no substantive reason not to include it? This doesn't make me any happier.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on October 19, 2003 09:55 PM

Let me see...

The part of the EU's final declaration that Chirac blocked read that Mahathir's "unacceptable comments hinder all our efforts to further interethnic and religious harmony, and have no place in a decent world. Such false and anti-Semitic remarks are as offensive to Muslims as they are to others."

The separate statement issued said that Mahathir's "words hinder all our efforts to further inter-ethnic and religious harmony, and have absolutely no place in a tolerant world."

Posted by: Brad DeLong on October 19, 2003 10:06 PM

No, Brad, it takes more than a bad call on a communiqué to make a man an anti-Semite. Chirac's record of no compromise with the home grown neofascist, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic National Front party is consistent, and has involved real political risks. Can you point to any French Jewish leader who thinks Chirac is an anti-Semite? Can you point to any statement he has made or policy proposed that would be evidence of anti-Semitism? It's the job of the Anti-Defamation league to respond to every anti-Semitic outburst, not that of Western politicians.

Posted by: James on October 20, 2003 06:27 AM

The EU summiteers didn't hesitate to go into condemnation mode when it was Haider in Austria a few years ago -- a chance for everyone to strut at the expense of a small country.

No, Chirac is not anti-Semetic, but he does play the Green Card as much as he can i.e. the Arab and Islamic constituencies in France. In recent months he has been on official visits to Morocco and Algeria. Criticising Mahatir would have meant criticising the OIC leaders who applauded him, and that's just too risky for M Chirac's domestic voting considerations.

Posted by: P O'Neill on October 20, 2003 06:57 AM

"No, Chirac is not anti-Semetic, but he does play the Green Card as much as he can i.e. the Arab and Islamic constituencies in France. In recent months he has been on official visits to Morocco and Algeria."

A man who has been on official visits in Arab countries and does not automatically approve of Israel is obviously playing the Antisemitic card. What more evidence do we need?

Posted by: flutier on October 20, 2003 07:20 AM

A Labour government in Israel and a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians would do more to put European and Islamic anti-semitism into long-term remission than anything else. If the mess in the Middle East doesn't get taken care of, things will continue to worsen.

Posted by: J Rossi on October 20, 2003 10:30 AM

I aggree with Brad, however, that, in a perfect world, this clearly anti-semitic statement should have generated an even stronger condemnation by Chirac and whoever else. But we're so way off this this global max, that I can understand Chirac's caution. It's called diplomacy (or anti-Rumsfeldism.) And there are nice pay-offs to be reaped from being diplomatic... (like cooperation on the real war on terror_ism_.)

Recall that the last few weeks have seen the US block two resolutions, one condemning the plan to assassinate Arafat and the other the unprovoked attack on Syria. Had the US behaved responsibly vis-a-vis its own ally, i.e. Israel, on these two issues, we would then have the right to demand from the EU to confront aggressively its Arab / Muslim allies on their not-so-latent anti-semitism. That would be a nice world, indeed...

But, AT LEAST, I haven't read any European leader nor pundit apologizing for Mahatir's statement. No orange given to him. No "you should exert caution, but we understand..." kinda crap.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 20, 2003 10:42 AM

I aggree with Brad, however, that, in a perfect world, this clearly anti-semitic statement should have generated an even stronger condemnation by Chirac and whoever else. But we're so way off this this global max, that I can understand Chirac's caution. It's called diplomacy (or anti-Rumsfeldism.) And there are nice pay-offs to be reaped from being diplomatic... (like cooperation on the real war on terror_ism_.)

Recall that the last few weeks have seen the US block two resolutions, one condemning the plan to assassinate Arafat and the other the unprovoked attack on Syria. Had the US behaved responsibly vis-a-vis its own ally, i.e. Israel, on these two issues, we would then have the right to demand from the EU to confront aggressively its Arab / Muslim allies on their not-so-latent anti-semitism. That would be a nice world, indeed...

But, AT LEAST, I haven't read any European leader nor pundit apologizing for Mahatir's statement. No orange given to him. No "you should exert caution, but we understand..." kinda crap.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 20, 2003 12:43 PM

"Does anyone have any idea why it is that the Western world seems to have such mediocrities for leaders, lately?"

Well, yes. Clearly it's the fault of the Jews.

Posted by: Gary Farber on October 20, 2003 01:17 PM

fberthol: The Guardian reported on this Saturday as well. But o.w. I agree with you.

I'm hardly a defender of Chirac or the French. Chirac may be arrogant, incompetent, and corrupt, but I don't think he is anti-Semite. (I would accept that many French people are. But Chirac, no I don't think he is.)

Most people have forgotten (or didn't know?) that Chirac was representing both France and Germany at the EU summit, because Schroder was off in Berlin for an important vote. This was a first, and there's at least a decent chance that the motive behind Chirac's request - to move the condemnation from the EU leader's declaration to Berlusconi's concluding remarks - is that he just wanted to control and dominate the meeting as he thought befitted his status as the representative of France-Germany. Berlusconi suggests that the EU condemn Mahathir. Chirac doesn't take kindly to someone taking any initiative which he didn't know about, and tries to put Berlusconi in his place, "Oh no, this kind of thing isn't put in the declaration. You should put it in your comments." If Berlusconi had said he was going to put it in his comments, Chirac would probably have insisted that the EU put it in their declaration. OK this reading is highly speculative, but it's more likely than the seemingly standard reading, which is that Chirac was somehow trying to outdo Vichy and appease the Jew-haters of the world. C'mon. Be rational, guys.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on October 20, 2003 02:12 PM

I maintain that the anti-semitism of Mahathir's comments has been vastly exaggerated.

foxden.org/kimmitt/blog/archives/000724.html

Posted by: Kimmitt on October 20, 2003 02:51 PM

Andrew Boucher wrote:
"Chirac may be arrogant, incompetent, and corrupt, but I don't think he is anti-Semite."

Chirac arrogant and incompetent? You can probably make such a case (not entirely convincing in my opinion). But coming from someone whose President is G.W.BUSH I am tempted to say:

"And why seest thou the straw, which is in thy brother's eye, and perceivest not the beam which is in thine eye?"

Regarding corruption there is obviously a large beam in Chirac's eye (but with Halliburton, Bechtel and co, this Republican is doing all it can not be outdone).

Posted by: flutier on October 20, 2003 03:37 PM

Andrew Boucher wrote:
"Chirac may be arrogant, incompetent, and corrupt, but I don't think he is anti-Semite."

Chirac arrogant and incompetent? You can probably make such a case (not entirely convincing in my opinion). But coming from someone whose President is G.W.BUSH I am tempted to say:

"And why seest thou the straw, which is in thy brother's eye, and perceivest not the beam which is in thine eye?"

Regarding corruption there is obviously a large beam in Chirac's eye (but with Halliburton, Bechtel and co, this Republican administration is doing all it can not be outdone).

Posted by: flutier on October 20, 2003 03:40 PM

C'mon, 10 yards for piling on. I realize French-bashing will never go out of style in the US (even with the lefties), but there's enough reasonable doubt here to discredit the anti-Semite accusation. To call someone as a racist is a very serious charge, and one that shouldn’t be taken so lightly. As noted above, there’s a difference between racist comments and a stupid communications strategy, which is what this appears to be.

In my opinion, pursing highly visble public officials with skimpy evidence or strained logic simply takes the heat of the true bigots and dangerous lunatics; that does next to nothing for those that who are the objects of their hate.

Posted by: Stephane on October 20, 2003 08:00 PM

Now that the facts are out, you owe your readers a retraction, Brad.

Posted by: Matt on October 20, 2003 08:36 PM

flutier: It's pretty much of a slam-dunker that Chirac is arrogant. "[Eastern European countries supporting the U.S.] lost a good opportunity to be silent." I wouldn't say the comment shows the French are arrogant, because he was pretty roundly condemned in the French press for having made it. So the fault is Chirac's own; so yes, he is arrogant. If you dispute that, I'm afraid I have to wonder what planet you live on.

That Chirac is incompetent is more a matter of discussion. I would hold that a leader of a nation who, in two short years, has turned his country's most important alliance into one where the ally's paper of record publishes a *serious* op-ed calling his nation the "enemy" is an unmitigated disaster. You have to go back to post-Bismarck Germany, which managed to lose Russia and Great Britain to France, to find diplomatic incompetence on a similar scale. You probably blame it on Bush, and clearly there is fault on that side. But in diplomacy you play with the cards you're dealt. Chirac blew it.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on October 21, 2003 02:31 AM

"But in diplomacy you play with the cards you're dealt."

So goes it in domestic politics in a democracy that isn't moved by big money as much as in the US when:
- 10 % of your population is Muslim (and your country as long-standing and deep relationships with the Muslim world...)
- your electorate takes the streets en masse against the war on (oops, in) Iraq
- a Rumsfeld (with a Blair trailing on his heels) keeps insulting your country for failing to accept cooked up intelligence.

And, yes, the French have this annoying tendency to deal with the US as an equal or at least something they can oppose themselves to when they disaggree (whereas to some in the US the only intelligent response seem to be unconditional submission). Unrealistic but still kinda cute and courageous, I think. You see, they seem to recall they helped the American Revolution to succeed... (And, yes yes, rather not mention WWII, they're not as proud about that.)

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 21, 2003 07:44 AM

JPS: What you write is hardly a reply to anything I wrote, least of all the sentence which you quoted. Of course make any remarks you like, but please leave me out of it, unless you actually are replying to me.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on October 21, 2003 08:18 AM

JPS: What you write is hardly a reply to anything I wrote, least of all the sentence which you quoted. Of course make any remarks you like, but please leave me out of it, unless you actually are replying to me.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on October 21, 2003 08:23 AM

Retractions are coming in.

http://www.markarkleiman.com/archives/_/2003/10/chirac_and_mahathir_update_and_retraction.php

You've called Chirac an anti-Semite, Brad. Do you still stand by your words?

Posted by: Matt on October 27, 2003 08:10 AM

Retractions start to appear.

http://www.markarkleiman.com/archives/_/2003/10/chirac_and_mahathir_update_and_retraction.php

Brad, now that the facts are out, you owe your readers a retraction - and you owe Chirac an apology.

Posted by: Matt on October 27, 2003 06:31 PM
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