December 15, 2003


France Pledges to Help Reduce Iraq Debt (JAMEY KEATEN, 12/15/03, Associated Press)

Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin of France, one of the most persuasive and persistent critics of the U.S. decision to wage war in Iraq, said he hopes the capture will allow the international community to "regain its unity."

France's commitment toward reducing the outstanding debt came a day before U.S. special envoy James A. Baker was to arrive in Paris, one of five European capitals he will visit this week as part of an effort to encourage such moves. [...]

Mending relations with Washington and persuading the Bush administration to hand decision-making power over to the Iraqis could also bolster France's ability to influence Iraq's future — and its chances of participating in the lucrative reconstruction of Iraq.

France, in the most concrete gesture to Washington, will join other members of the Paris Club of creditor nations to look for ways of restructuring or forgiving huge debts Iraq owes them, de Villepin said.

"France could envisage the cancellation of appropriate debts," he said at a news conference after meeting a delegation of visiting Iraqi ministers. He did not provide any figures.

Even we didn't think France would fold that fast, but when the client goes down, the patron looks to deal, eh?

Hussein's capture may help bridge US-Europe divide: Envoy Baker seeks Iraqi debt relief from allies bitter about being barred from contracts. (Howard LaFranchi, 12/16/03, The Christian Science Monitor)

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 15, 2003 6:57 PM

The first to have surrendered here were the Democrat Left, who had chastised GWB over having pushed too much (having the gall to ask for canceling an odious debt without giving them contracts). They would have given the French contracts and allowed them to keep a claim on the debt. Is important to be liked around the world. I am starting to think that there is something more spineless than being French.

Posted by: MG at December 15, 2003 8:56 PM

A simple trade of eligibility for contracts in exchange for debt cancellation would be very nice and an unqualified victory.

Posted by: John Thacker at December 15, 2003 9:31 PM

They are folding now because they know that in 3 to 6 months (and beyond), their hand will be even weaker.

Kerry was on O"Reilly tonight - he unequivically stated that he would give France & Germany contracts if they put men on the ground tomorrow, even after all that has happened. I wouldn't be surprised if he and de Villepin were caught in a Paris hotel room wearing lingerie.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 15, 2003 10:01 PM

Hakim and Tabani (?) said they want ties w/them on Egyptian TV, conveniently after phrawnce agreed to waive some debt.

Posted by: Sandy P. at December 16, 2003 1:02 AM

This article is a gem.

Villepin is "one of the most persuasive and persistent critics of the U.S. decision to wage war in Irag."

"France's commitment toward reducing the outstanding debt..."

"Mending relations with Washington and persuading Washington...could also bolster France's ability to influence Iraq's future...."

France is making "concrete gesture[s]" is actually "looking for ways of restructuring or forgiving" Iraq's huge debts.

"'France could envisage...'"

Yadda, yadda.

Wouldn't know that from this particular snow job that France has been supporting Saddam for the past decade and has continued to choose, in the name of prudence and sophisticated real-politic, to to be on the wrong side of history.

Or that it's going to hell in a handbasket.

Kind of like describing someone who's just lost his shirt, his car, his house, and his family at Vegas---and signed away his life to the local loan shark---that he's "making tremenous strides to turn his life around."

Posted by: Barry Meislin at December 16, 2003 1:49 AM

Amazing. Even before Baker gets to Europe, the French are surrendering.

Posted by: jd watson at December 16, 2003 3:39 AM

Mais, non! Zee's is but a you say...strategic retreat.

Posted by: Peter B at December 16, 2003 8:04 AM