Monday, April 05, 2004

Noble no more

The Guardian has some new information to report from the forthcoming Vanity Fair article I mentioned previously.

According to Ewen MacAskill, the 25,000-word investigative piece set to appear in next month's edition of the magazine reveals that France tried to broker a deal with the US over the Iraq war some two months before the invasion:

At a lunch in the White House on January 13 last year, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, an adviser to the president, Jacques Chirac, and Jean-David Levitte, the French ambassador in Washington, put the deal to Condoleezza Rice, the US national security adviser.

In an effort to avoid a bitter US-French row, the French officials suggested that if the US was intent on war, it should not seek the second resolution, according to highly placed US sources cited by Vanity Fair.

Instead, the two said that the first resolution on Iraq, 1441, passed the previous year, provided enough legal cover for war and that France would keep quiet if the US went to war on that basis.

The deal would suit the French by maintaining its "good cop" status in the Arab world and safeguarding Franco-US relations.
So much for "noble France" standing up to the US war machine.

The deal was allegedly quashed by Tony Blair, who felt that domestic pressure in Britain required that the coalition pursue a second UN resolution against Iraq, which France ultimately killed with a veto.