Not satisfied with infuriating millions and millions and millions of Americans, French President Jacques Chirac (search) is now busy ticking off the Brits.
He summoned reporters from British papers yesterday and gave a long rambling interview in which he said Tony Blair (search) got "nothing" — zip, zero, nada — for his friendship and backing of the United States.
Blair had only the day before said that Great Britain was going to be a bridge across the Atlantic to bring America closer to Europe.
Fat chance, said Chirac.
He allowed that Britain had done the U.S. a great favor in supporting the war in Iraq, but — quoting him now — "I'm not sure it is in the nature of American friends at the moment to return favors systematically."
Oh really, Mr. Chirac? What about the fact that the U.S. captured, or rescued the driver of the two kidnapped French journalists in Iraq several days ago and still hasn't let French intelligence ask him questions? You don't think that's returning a favor for all your recent support of the U.S.?
In the same interview, Chirac took aim at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (search).
He referred to Rumsfeld as, "that guy, I've forgotten his name, who talked about old Europe" and said Rumsfeld's "old Europe" jibe showed "a complete lack of culture."
These things get said out in the open by the leader of a country that the United States has saved twice and which is supposed to be an ally. And yet it is their skin that is thin.
When President Bush, at the end of the campaign, made a remark in a speech that the U.S. wouldn't be dictated to by countries like France, the French ambassador was on the phone complaining and the president's handlers got him to drop the reference to France.
By the way, Chirac hinted he might try to hold office for another 13 years. Many in France say it's because without the protection from prosecution afforded to the occupant of the French presidency he would be in the fight of his life to stay out of jail for his part in corruption scandals that go back decades.
I remind you, the French say they are our best friends.
That's My Word.
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