Why are Obama, Hollande trying to steal credit from Bush and Sarkozy?
posted at 2:46 pm on February 10, 2014 by Ed Morrissey
The two world leaders paired up for a Washington Post op-ed today, celebrating their efforts to restore the Franco-American alliance from its sorry state of 2002-3. No doubt the relationship hit a nadir when Jacques Chirac balked at a UN resolution that would have approved the invasion of Iraq, and perhaps even lower when the extent of corruption in the oil-for-food program became known — and how much of it enriched the French. My friend Olivier Knox, who worked for Agence France-Presse at the time, recalls just how ugly it got.
Unfortunately for Obama and Hollande, he also recalls when it improved, too:
President Barack Obama and visiting French President Francois Hollande said in a rare joint op-ed published Monday that the world benefits from a France-U.S. alliance that “is being made new again.” But they didn’t give any credit to George W. Bush and Nicolas Sarkozy, who did most of the work to repair a relationship that soured in the run-up to the Iraq War. …
At Agence France-Presse, we joked we should change our name to Agence Freedom-Presse. Over at The New York Times, which rarely misses an opportunity to knock the French, foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman harrumphed that France had ceased to be merely “our annoying ally” or “our jealous rival” and was now “becoming our enemy.”
But even during this ugly period, the two countries cooperated on counterterrorism policy, and French troops continued to serve as part of the coalition in Afghanistan. By June 2004, Bush was insisting that relations were “excellent” and publicly marveling at how many cheeseburgers France’s then-president, Jacques Chirac, could eat in one sitting.
By September 2004, the two leaders had joined forces to help drive Syria’s roughly 14,000 troops and intelligence agents out of Lebanon — a major bilateral diplomatic push.
And that was before the pro-American Sarkozy succeeded Chirac, when relations improved markedly.
The only way to ignore that is to compare two points in time while ignoring everything in between. This is a case of two world leaders stealing credit for accomplishments in order to hide the fact that they have very few of their own. Be sure to read all of Olivier’s essay.