Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's amazing the trouble one can get in for telling the truth, especially if one holds elected office.

It's been a gaffe-prone few weeks for French politics. First Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royale accidentally endorced Quebecois independent. Then, in a Tuesday New York Times article, outgoing president Jacques Chirac intimated that he saw nothing threatening about a nuclear armed Iran.

The funny thing here, is that there's a fair sized kernel of truth in both instances. Quebecois independence probably poles pretty well in France these days, and Royale would not be the first French President to endorse it--one need think only of de Gaulle's "Vive la Quebec libre" moment.

On the other hand, Chirac's gaffe is an outright statement of fact. A nuclear-armed Iran would be easily enough deterred from using it, and any state launching a nuclear attack on Israel, the most obvious target, would promptly be removed from the map by a western counterattack. The real issue in this is that a nuclear power in the region would permanently reduce western (mostly American) influence in the region by providing the first regional great power in the Mid East since the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Chirac's slip will probably cost him a week's worth of bad press before we all forget--maybe less. Royale's comment, coming as it does among an assortment of such errors in the middle of the campagne, might be a bigger problem. But either way, we might all want to thank them for at least holding their noses and being honest about things--however questionable their views may be.
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