Learning to Love the French: When Sarkozy Spoke Truth to Obama
There's plenty in French politics that the world could live without -- thus, in 2003, when Jacques Chirac was president of France, Americans ended up ordering "Freedom Fries." But the pendulum swings, and these days -- credit France -- we find French president Nicolas Sarkozy warning President Barack Obama that a foreign policy of denial and appeasement is the way to becoming French -- and American -- toast. During the past week's meetings at the United Nations, featuring Obama's "mutual respect" and global tyrants on parade, there came a moment at which Sarkozy opened his mouth on the big, big subject of nuclear crisis, and spoke truth to Obamaland. It got far too little coverage -- so I reprise it here.
The setting was the special, summit-level Security Council meeting Thursday morning, chaired by Obama, in which the official topics were nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament for the entire world -- but with no focus on any specific country. The meeting was advertised by the White House as "historic," if for no other reason than that no U.S. President has ever before stooped to chair the often feckless and at times just plain sleazy UN Security Council -- where the 15 members currently include Vietnam and Libya. For this particular occasion, Libya's foreign minister attended (thus sparing the Council the risk of a replay of Qaddadi's 96 minute performance the previous day on the General Assembly stage). The rest of the table was filled with presidents and prime ministers.
They began with Obama's pre-packaged deal of unanimously adopting a "historic" resolution, which Obama said "enshrines our shared commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons," etc, etc. etc (All very nice, but what does this have to do with the real world?). Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon kicked off the ensuing round of official self-congratulatory huffing and puffing ("...a historic moment...a fresh start towards a new future"). The canned diplo-speak continued, as each member spoke in turn -- Costa Rica, Croatia, Russia, Spain, Austria, Vietnam, Uganda, China ... and then it was the turn of the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Here's his wakeup call, in the UN's translation from the French (boldface mine):
"We are here to guarantee peace. We are right to talk about the future. But the present comes before the future, and the present includes two major nuclear crises. The peoples of the entire world are listening to what we are saying, including our promises, commitments and speeches. But we live in the real world, not in a virtual one.
We say that we must reduce. President Obama himself has said that he dreams of a world without nuclear weapons. Before our very eyes, two countries are doing exactly the opposite at this very moment. Since 2005, Iran has violated five Security Council Resolutions. [Ed note: Sarkozy then listed international proposals for dialogue with Iran attempted in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.] I support America's extended hand. But what have these proposals for dialogue produced for the international community? Nothing but more enriched uranium and more centrifuges. And last but not least, it has resulted in a statement by Iranian leaders calling for wiping off the map a Member of the United Nations. What are we to do? What conclusion are we to draw? At a certain moment hard facts will force us to take decisions.
... Secondly, there is North Korea -- and there it is even more striking. It has violated every Security Council decision since 1993. It pays absolutely no attention to what the international community says. Even more, it continues ballistic missile testing. How can we accept that? What conclusions should we draw? ..."
You can read President Sarkozy's entire statement here (in all its Defcon 1 relevance to the disclosures Friday of another Iranian uranium enrichment plant hidden on a military base near Qom) -- click on this link to Security Council meetings for 2009, then click on the link for "Meeting Record" of Sept 24th and scroll to page 12.