Sign Up

Jacques Chirac — Monsieur Sh-Iraq?

What were the French president’s reasons for opposing the war in Iraq?

April 16, 2003

What were the French president's reasons for opposing the war in Iraq?

French President Jacques Chirac has not endeared himself to the American public with his anti-war stance. Gone are the days when it was approvingly pointed out that Mr. Chirac was an Amerophile. Even at home, France's left-leaning La Liberation called him "King of Peace Without a Crown." Yet, is there more to his refusal to send troops then mere political scheming? Our Read My Lips explores.

Did Mr. Chirac's stance on Iraq jeopardize cooperation on the global stage?

“We delude ourselves if we think that the degree of international hostility is all the result of President Chirac.”

(Robin Cook, former British Foreign Secretary, March 2003)

Yet, why are some people concerned?

“He crosses a line by sacrificing alliance needs to UN posturing.”

(Senior Bush Administration official, February 2003)

President Chirac, what was your principle opposition to the war in Iraq?

“Whether we are talking about making Iraq adhere to its obligations, relaunching the Israeli-Palestinian peace process or solving conflicts in Africa, the same logic of legitimacy has to inspire all of us.”

(October 2002)

How does U.S. President George W. Bush think of Mr. Chirac's approach?

"I would never second-guess Jacques Chirac when he makes his case from a moral perspective."

(U.S. President George W. Bush, March 2003)

Does Mr. Chirac face criticism in France?

“Mr. Chirac, the inheritor of a proud Gaullist tradition, should not align himself with pacifist Germany — a nation that is still searching its soul.”

(Dominique Moisi, Institut Français des Relations Internationales, February 2003)

Monsieur Chirac, what is your view on the fall of Saddam Hussein?

“France, like all democracies, rejoices in the fall of the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.”

(French President Jacques Chirac, April 2003)

Yet, why were you opposed to military action?

“We are no longer in an era where one or two countries can control the fate of another country.”

(April 2003)

Are you generally averse to war?

“In the modern world, the use of force should only be a last — and exceptional — resort.”

(October 2002)


“For us, war is always the proof of failure.”

(January 2003)

Are you concerned about the doctrine or preemption?

“As soon as one nation claims the right to take preemptive action, other countries will naturally do the same.”

(September 2002)

What scenario would you fear?

"What would you say in the entirely hypothetical event that China wanted to take preemptive action against Taiwan, saying that it was a threat to it?

(September 2002)

How did the Elysée Palace react to President George W. Bush's "axis of evil" speech?

“The good-and-evil view does not conform to the actual conditions in the present-day world.”

(Aide to French President Jacques Chirac, February 2002)

So, did you not think that Saddam had to go?

“I don’t need to tell you that I condemned the regime in Iraq, naturally, for all the reasons we know, for all the dangers that it puts on the region — and the tragedy it constitutes for the Iraqi people held hostage by it.”

(September 2002)

How do you react to the criticism that France is ungrateful to the WW II allied countries?

“France knows what it owes to the sacrifice and courage of British soldiers who came to help her recover her liberty in the fight against barbarity.”

(April 2003)

How serious is the disagreement within Europe over Iraq?

“Europe’s history is marked by a series of crises — from which it has emerged stronger each time.”

(March 2003)

How should the world community secure Iraq's reconstruction?

“The political, economic, humanitarian and administrative reconstruction of Iraq is a matter for the United Nations.”

(April 2003)

And finally, given all the profound disagreements, can politicians still succeed?

“Politics is the art of making the necessary possible."

(December 1995)