Sunday, March 23, 2008

Five years on

Dominique de Villepin unrepentant, triumphant even, on the French veto in 2003: 
si la France a brandi son veto aux Nations Unies, c'est tout simplement  parce que si l'on voulait éviter que la résolution en faveur de la guerre ne soit votée, il fallait convaincre les pays des neutres, les pays du tiers monde, les pays du sud, des pays comme le Mexique, comme le Chile, comme le Pakistan, comme l'Angola et ces pays n'auraient pas accepté livrer bataille face aux Américains, si certains membres permanents du Conseil de Sécurité, comme la France, ne prenaient pas toute leur responsabilité parce que cela nous aura conduit alors à leur demander de faire le travail à notre place pour finalement nous débiner in fine et de ne pas mettre notre veto. Donc, il fallait dire que nous allions mettre notre veto pour soutenir la position de ces pays, si nous voulions véritablement tenir tête aux Américains. [… inaudible] cohérent.  (France Inter, 19 Mar 2008; Extract here.)
This one’s worth translating in full:
if France brandished its veto at the United Nations, it is quite simply because if one wanted to avoid a resolution in favour of war being passed, it was necessary to convince neutral countries, the countries of the third world, the countries of the south, countries like Mexico, like Chile, like Pakistan or Angola and these countries would not have agreed to give battle faced by the Americans, if certain permanent members of the Security Council, like France, did not fully take on their responsibility because that would then have meant us asking them to do our work for us and allow us at the end to clear off and not impose our veto. So, it was necessary to say that we were going to impose our veto in order to support the position of these countries, if we wanted to truly stand up to the Americans. [… inaudible] consistent.
What’s really being said here? I tried to analyze it in a fairly technical way. But first, the context: asked about Nicolas Sarkozy’s attitude concerning the Iraq crisis, de Villepin said that he was uncomfortable about the style of France’s diplomacy, but he (de Villepin) defended France against the charge of “arrogance” and went on to talk about the importance of using the threat of the veto.
The aim was to avoid a resolution in favour of war being passed. Earlier, he had said that France’s success was in avoiding a resolution that would have legalised the war, which would have been an irreparable step, equating to “a confrontation between East and West”.

But France could simply have simply vetoed the resolution when the time arrived. So, the unstated objective was to avoid France being in a minority, possibly of one, in opposing the war.

The means used was to get the support of other, weaker, countries, to stand up to (give battle to) the Americans.

So, in order to convince these countries, France had to, not only be prepared to use its veto, but, early on, to say (threaten / brandish) that it was going to do so.
L'invité d'Inter also featured Hans Blix.


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