The loss of a beloved pet can create the most heartrending crisis in our lives. Such creatures bestow a sense of security and unconditional love so often not provided by the people around us. Sadly, their spans are shorter than our own and bereavement is inevitable, requiring a period of grief and mourning necessary to repair the vacuum left in our hearts.
It would appear George Bush’s official mourning for the loss of his pet poodle, Tony Blair, – last seen slipping his leash and heading gleefully for the Eastern horizon – has been helped into closure by the introduction into White House hearts of yet another poodle, this time of the French variety.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the latest president of France, has made it clear he will not be following his predecessor’s doctrine of US-criticism, having already declared America, “…..the world’s greatest democracy……”, a rather strange utterance from a man newly elected president of his own democratic country; one many would consider vastly superior to the USA, if the meaning of ‘democracy’ is to be taken seriously.
No holiday on the French Riviera for Nicolas, he was off to gallivant around New England, taking time out to call in on the Bush’s for crepe-suzette and beefburgers. The grin on George Bush’s countenance was a joy to behold after months of tears and regret over Tony.
It does, however, raise the question: will Nicolas prove as true and faithful to his master as the near irreplaceable Mister Blair? First impressions are positive. Only this week, in an obvious show of unity with Washington, the left-leaning Bernard Kouchner – Sarkozy’s unlikely choice for French foreign minister – declared France’s support for war against Iran if that country failed to quell its nuclear ambitions. A somewhat inexplicable stance given the IAEA has only recently commented on the high degree of cooperation it is receiving from the Iranian authorities.
Indeed, today in Austria at the Authority’s 51st General Conference, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei stated that:
* The Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran;
* Iran has provided the Agency with additional information and access needed to resolve a number of long outstanding issues, such as the scope and nature of past plutonium experiments;
* Contrary to the decisions of the Security Council, calling on Iran to take certain confidence-building measures, Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities, and is continuing with its construction of the heavy water reactor at Arak – “this is regrettable”, he commented; and
* While the Agency so far has been unable to verify certain important aspects relevant to the scope and nature of Iran´s nuclear programme, Iran and the Secretariat agreed last month on a work plan for resolving all outstanding verification issues.”
Quite obviously progress is being made, but as with Iraq it seems ‘progress’ is insufficient to keep the Dogs of War from baying for blood.
George Bush’s satisfaction at the replacement of his old pet with a new one showing similar characteristics may be short-lived. While Sarkozy is Jewish through and through, with obvious leanings towards Israel and an antipathy towards any who might castigate that nation, Kouchner, while Jewish on his father’s side, is basically a humanitarian. It was he who founded Medecin Sans Frontieres and has worked as a relief doctor in countries many charity workers have baulked at entering. When Bernard Kouchner shouts about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he is more likely condemning its – at least, to Western eyes – authoritarian regime.
For many years, Jacques Chirac kept France on the sidelines of international politics, though his ability to stir up trouble within the European Parliament was legendary. It took the US threat of an Iraq invasion to catapult Chirac into an offensive stance against the UK/US position, and most French people backed him solidly. Many remembered sufficient of the Nazi occupation of France between 1940 and 1944 to consider any such act permissible in only the most dire of circumstances.
Sarkozy is no Chirac. He wishes to make a name for himself on the world stage and will use America and its president to achieve it. Unlike Tony Blair, who was faithful to the last, if his flirtation with George Bush fails in its objectives, the new French poodle may well turn against his new found master, and George Bush will likely feel “Oua Oua” Sarkozy’s teeth upon his butt.
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