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By Jean-Marcel 0aBouguereau
Le Nouvel Observateur
Wednesday 24 September 2003
George Bush and Jacques Chirac s positions couldn t have 0abeen father apart yesterday at the U.N. General Assembly. Responding in advance 0ato the French president, the American president made no concessions, rejecting 0aappeals for an accelerated transfer of sovereignty in Iraq, limiting the United 0aNation s role to drafting a Constitution, training officials, and organizing 0aelections.
Meanwhile, what Jacques Chirac explicitly demanded a few 0aminutes after Georges Bush s presentation was just that: a transfer indispensable to Iraq s stability and reconstruction . Nor was there the 0aslightest concession either on the motivations for the war, with Bush continuing 0ato assert that Saddam Hussein s regime maintained links with terrorists while 0ahe developed weapons of mass destruction . It s that George Bush speech was 0awatched by millions of Americans.
Meanwhile, the latest polls are catastrophic for the U.S. 0apresident, according to an inquiry that appeared in this Monday s Newsweek: less 0athan half (46%) only of Americans report themselves satisfied with the post-war 0amanagement of Iraq. But above all, a little more than a year away from the 2004 0apresidential election, the favorite Democratic candidate, General Wesley Clark, 0ais hard on George Bush s heels by a few points.
It was obviously not a matter of going to Canossa and 0asurrendering to the United Nations headquarters for the American president. 0aWhile Kofi Annan had just criticized the concept of preventative war , a 0afundamental challenge to the principles on which world peace and stability, 0ahowever imperfectly, have rested the last 25 years , George Bush chose to give a 0aspeech that was uncompromising on all subjects, on Iraq as on Israel. Facing 0ahim, Jacques Chirac made himself the defender of multilateralism , an essential , efficient , and modern principle, proposing at the same time 0aUnited Nations reform. He suggested Security Council enlargement, to better 0areflect the state of the world and reinforcement of its authority to better frame recourse to force . One cannot help but wonder how the interview went of 0atwo presidents so obviously opposed.
Jean-Marcel Bouguereau is Editor-in-Chief of the Nouvel 0aObservateur. He is also an editorialist for the R publique des Pyr n es , for 0awhich this article was written.
Translation: Truthout French language correspondent Leslie 0aThatcher.
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