Saturday, November 11, 2006

A beacon of light...

... in France.

Remarks in the French media on the question of Iraq often have a formulaic predictability. For example, France Inter radio's two main commentators on international affairs (or at least those I get to hear, Bernard Guetta and Dominique Bromberger) always seem to go like this, when they get onto the subject: 'Bla bla bla ... bourbier (quaqmire) ... bla bla bla ... Bush ... bla bla bla ... désastre ... bla bla bla ... aventure Irakienne.'

But here is how Le Monde reported Ségolène Royal speaking in the last of the debates of those still in the running to be the Parti Socialiste candidate for President of the Republic:
Elle s'est également démarquée de manière inédite sur l'Irak, parlant en termes constructifs, après sa rencontre avec le président irakien Talabani, du "gouvernement démocratique en Irak" et évoquant des pistes concrètes pour aider le pays à se reconstruire. 'Ségolène Royal conteste le nucléaire civil iranien', 8 Nov 2006
This is how the BBC website reported the same debate:
Ms Royal criticised the Bush administration, saying: "We cannot accept the concept of preventive war nor succumb to the temptation of unilateralism." She avoided the question of a US withdrawal from Iraq but said the international community needed to help Iraqis build democracy, adding that any success would be solely due to their effort.
The other issue on which she marked herself out from the other two candidates was on Iran. Le Monde, again:
[Mme Royal] a persisté, forte d'une approche fondée moins sur les traités internationaux que sur la nature du régime iranien. Elle a surtout invoqué la possibilité proposée par Moscou que les Russes fournissent à Téhéran le combustible nucléaire civil nécessaire. "Cette solution est beaucoup plus prudente tant que le régime iranien n'aura pas évolué."
According to France Inter, Laurent Fabius said that she had 'dropped a clanger' (fait une bourde), by denying Iran the right to a civil nuclear programme. No, came back Ségolène's camp, it was Fabius who had dropped a clanger, since Iran had the right to a nuclear programme only if it accepted IAEA inspections.

PS: John Thornhill, in a long piece in the FT Magazine a few weeks ago, including coverage of an earlier debate, quotes Jacques Seguela, a former adviser to Mitterrand, who
suggests that Royal could prove formidably difficult to defeat. “Segolene’s strength is that she’s a woman of the left who embodies the values of the right. That is a paradox but it is her strength,” he says. “The French people want softness in form, but rigour in practice. There is something of Sarkozy in Segolene, but there is no Segolene in Sarkozy.
('Liberté, égalité, féminité', 20 Oct)
The three candidates are on France Inter next week, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings...

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