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2007/04/27

Sputtering with Indignation, Western Europeans Stand Up for Human Rights in Poland (after fiddling about for 50 years)

Poland never received as much opprobrium when it was a communist dictatorship and part of the Warsaw Pact. Nor was any Soviet-era dissident ever lauded as much or given as much space (front page, no less) as Bronislaw Geremek is now as he speaks out against the country's decommunization process. (But then, at the time, Poland was neither capitalist nor pro-American, the mothers of all sins.) From Le Monde editorials to French lawmakers decrying the country's Stalinist or Fascist methods, just about everybody knows what is democratic and what is proof of tolerance and what is best for Poland.

Update: Because of a reader's remarks putting the above facts into doubt, I am adding the following excerpts from previous posts: Update 1: Europeans (and France) were largely silent as recently as one week ago when Geremek (along with a dozen others, most of them former leaders in Europe) issued a declaration in favor of Ukrainian democracy.

Update 2: A Polish émigré weighs in:
…it does not strike you as odd that the people who rush to the side of "justice" were once very happy to forsake justice because we were not proving their social theories correct. It bothers you not at all that the people defending Geremek did not defend him twenty years ago. It bothers me very much, because seventy years ago, these same people "defended" us. I do not want this defense again.

Let me offer some quotes that to me are very telling:
"His moral authority, his commitment to Europe, his fight for freedom have made (Geremek) a figure symbolic of Europe and its values," Douste-Blazy said.
M. Douste-Blazy, Geremek's moral authority was established decades ago. You chose to ignore it until it served your purposes to attempt to harm Poland. I am not impressed.
French presidential candidate Segolene Royal urged Poland in the affair "to conform to the European Union's democratic values," which she described as "not negotiable."
Au contraire, Mdm. Royal, these values have always been very negotiable. When the Germans and Russians signed an agreement to bypass Poland with a gas pipepline through the Baltic, where were our French "friends?" Is M. Putin conforming to the EU's "democratic values?" When Poland was fighting to keep an agreement regarding representation in the EU from being arbitrarily changed by France and Germany, where were your "democratic values?" They are as ephemeral as the French "offensive" in 1939.

…If Poland is to survive in the EU in anything but a subservient role to the French-German axis (or should I say the Vichy-Nazi Axis), it cannot allow hostile neighbors to intervene in its attempts to shed the political turpitude which is a direct consequence of the cowardice those neighbors showed (and in the case of the Germans, far worse) when we could have most used courage.

…the attitudes of individuals must have made an impact on subsequent positions after the Cold War. I suggest that based on the feelings of those people with whom I spoke at that time, who would be contemporaries with those who now denounce Poland, this is not a new sentiment. It was disdain before, and it is disdain now. The rhetoric has adjusted to support current interests. Its hostility to Poland itself is unchanged.

2007/04/24

Le décret en préparation exprime le fantasme « Big Brother »

Pointing out that "even George W Bush's America and its post-September 11 Patriot Act have never contemplated such rules" (now that, in France, shows how bad it is!), Philippe Jannet asks whether the French state is trying to kill the Internet in France and charges that a Big Brother bill is underway that would allow the authorities to stock all kinds of personal information, from pseudonyms and passwords to payment details and credit card numbers…

Le monde multipolaire se développe sans nous demander notre avis et sans correspondre à nos schémas

While Tony Blair says he has absolutely no plans of ever becoming president of the European Commission, Hubert Védrine tells Daniel Vernet that
Le fil conducteur de politique étrangère de la Ve République depuis que de Gaulle l'a reformulée vers 1966-1967, avec les inflexions liées à la personnalité de chaque président de la République et, dans quelques cas, à la personnalité des ministres, c'est l'idée d'une autonomie de décision. L'idée que la France a sa propre politique étrangère. C'est là-dessus qu'il y a consensus. Ce n'est pas évident pour les Américains et pour certains de nos partenaires. Cela suppose une autonomie de pensée.

… Depuis que nous sommes sortis de la guerre froide, il a fallu repenser la politique étrangère française. La France estime avoir le droit, dans certains cas, de contrer la politique américaine. D'avancer ses propres propositions sur l'avenir de l'Europe, sur l'organisation du monde, etc. Même si, sur chaque point d'application concret, sur les rapports entre réalisme, démocratie, et droits de l'homme, il y a des différences, voire des clivages, à l'intérieur de la gauche comme de la droite.
Sounding profoundly principled, Védrine states that he is thinks that France's anti-American consensus is "threatened" and that he is "opposed" to certain tendencies on the right ("and even sometimes on the left", how horrid) to go "in the other direction." The man who invented the term "hyperpower" while foreign minister (meaning that for whatever situation is being discussed, Uncle Sam is automatically in the wrong) evokes "the most insidious threat" as well as an "ingenious and dangerous vision", for which he has invented a term, Irrealpolitik.

Védrine goes on to say that
Dans le discours français, il est implicite que, parmi les pôles, il y a une Europe forte et, au sein de cette Europe forte, une France très influente. Or le monde multipolaire se développe sans nous demander notre avis et sans correspondre à nos schémas !