Not speaking the same language: Relations between the United States and European “allies” such as France have become increasingly bitter — and personal.
France lashed out at EU-applicants for siding with the United States over Iraq, indicating that a dispute over national interests and security has become personal and is edging into the realm of a slapfest in a playground sandbox between the the class bully (Bush) and the transfer student (Chirac.)
Mr Chirac, whose support for enlargement is, as French officials admit, as shallow as his empathy for Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany, called the candidate countries “childish” after they had signed two declarations that supported US policy over Iraq.
It was also “dangerous, reckless, not very well-behaved”. The candidate countries, he said, “had missed a great opportunity to shut up”. He warned their entry to the EU depended on member states ratifying the accession treaties.
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, the Polish foreign minister, expressed his government’s position: “We respect the right by France to present its opinion. We expect the same for our side.”
The applicant countries, which include nations such as Poland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania, are in a bit of a tight spot because they also want to join NATO as well as the EU and, as the article points out, they need U.S. Congressional approval to do so. With U.S. representatives calling for a boycott of French products and the Pentagon pulling out troops to punish German ‘treachery,’ it would seem they know where their bread is buttered, and the bread is not a croissant.
Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I thought one of the key points of the EU was to formulate a common foreign policy to go along with a common agricultural policy, monetary policy, etc. If Poland, Czech Republic and other applicant nations are pursuing their own foreign policy with the idea of protecting their unique national interests — not that there’s anything wrong with that — doesn’t that kind of, you know, undermine the whole idea of the EU as a single political unit? Many Germans I know would roll their eyes at the naïvité of this question. Probably a lot of French people would to. Anyway, this whole row just shows you how un-united “Europe” still is.
And another thing, why does it seem we’re already at war with Europe as a prelude to war with Iraq? Was this part of the plan? A friend of mine offered this unique theory, tongue planted firmly in cheek: “We always knew the Republicans hated the U.N., so it’s no surprise they want to trash it. But do they hate NATO, too, because Bill Clinton used it in Kosovo so well? It’s almost like they want to pick up the china sets that Clinton ate off and smash them, just because Clinton used them.”
Of course, I don’t believe that, but hell, it makes as much sense as anything else as to why Team Bush has allowed this situation to spin so madly, stupidly out of control.