Thursday, August 23, 2007

France Changes Iraq Stance

Our old friend France is finally back:

Sarkozy 'corrects' Chirac's errors

By Amir Taheri, Special to Gulf News
Published: August 22, 2007, 00:13

One of the key promises that Nicolas Sarkozy had made during his presidential election campaign last spring was to "correct" foreign policy "mistakes" made by his predecessor Jacques Chirac.

Chief among these was Chirac's desperate efforts to prevent the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussain's regime of terror.
Chirac failed to save his friend's regime but managed to do serious damage to relations with the US, Great Britain and more than 40 other nations that joined the coalition of the willing to liberate Iraq in 2003.

Sarkozy's moves to correct the mistake started even before his election when he met President George W. Bush at the White House in 2006 and described Chirac's policy as "arrogant".

The surprise visit paid to Iraq by France's new Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner this week is another move by Sarkozy to shed Chirac's disastrous legacy.

Beyond its obvious symbolic and psychological value, France's change of position on Iraq could also have a number of practical positive effects.

Free of constant French diplomatic sniping, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) could fully honour its commitment to help train the new Iraqi army and police force.

So far, the alliance has trained no more than one tenth of the quota allocated to it. (In fact, Hungary seems to be the only Nato member to have done its share.)

The European Union could review its policy towards new Iraq in a positive way, starting by inviting the new Iraqi leaders and treating them as the legitimate elected representatives of their people. With French opposition no longer a factor, the EU could open an office in Baghdad and appoint a special emissary.

The new French policy on Iraq could also inspire a change of attitude in Moscow. With Schroeder and Chirac gone, Putin may find it harder to pursue an Iraq policy based on nostalgia for Saddam and petty enmity towards the US. full article

We lose Blair by election but gain Sarkozy via another. While I can't say its an even trade its still good to have one of America's oldest friends back in the fold. And frankly we could use all of the help we could get with Iraq.