Sunday, July 25, 2004

Chirac's Outbursts Worry World Leaders

From Mort Rosenblum, outspoken veteran of the AP and author of "Who Stole the News?":

Chirac's Outbursts Worry World Leaders

PARIS (July 25) - Jacques Chirac, whose refusal to join the Iraq invasion gained him I-told-you-so clout, is worrying allies with blunt outbursts that some say raise the risks in an overheated world.

At a time when fighting terrorism needs a united front, arrogance in Paris and Washington alike is breeding discord, analysts and diplomats say.

The crux is simple: While George W. Bush wants to destroy terrorism, Chirac insists that at best, it can only be contained.

But things have gone beyond the two men's apparent mutual dislike to drag in other leaders.

Turkey, for instance, badly wants to join the European Union. But last month, when Bush endorsed Turkey's ambitions, Chirac essentially told him to mind his own business, saying Europe doesn't tell the United States how to deal with Mexico.

Chirac has enraged eastern European newcomers to the European Union by warning them against supporting the Iraq invasion. He is engaged in a nasty exchange with Ariel Sharon over the Israeli prime minister's claim that France is engulfed in "the wildest anti-Semitism" and that its Jews should get out. And he has angered the Muslim world by championing a ban on schoolgirls' wearing Islamic head scarves at school.

Chirac also sent a message to this month's international AIDS conference in Thailand accusing Washington of tying aid to trade and calling it "tantamount to blackmail."

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