With just one-fifth the population of the United States, France boasts the world's second largest contingent of diplomats, and its consulates and embassies number just eight fewer than the State Department's 260. The French investment in its foreign ministry is likewise heavy and demonstrates the importance the French government places on French prestige and grandeur. Under President Jacques Chirac, French foreign policy has become increasingly assertive. Francois Heisbourg, director of the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (Foundation for Strategic Research), summed up French foreign policy as "oppose just to exist." Such descriptions are not entirely fair, though. While Chirac inherited a French foreign policy already tilted toward the Arab world, his pursuit of close personal ties to Arab leaders and his outreach to Islamists, rejectionist Arab states, and groups considered terrorists by the U.S. government is part of a broader strategy to increase French influence in the region.
Why French Foreign Policy Is Pro-Arab
There are a number of domestic and historical factors that contribute to the French government's increasingly skewed Middle East policy. High among them is the changing nature of French demography. At least 10 percent of France's sixty million residents are Muslim. Given the discrepancy between the Muslim and non-Muslim birthrate in France, demographers estimate that by 2030 at least 25 percent of the French population will be Muslim.
In the past decade, the Islamist element among French Muslims has grown rapidly, overpowering more moderate Muslim voices. Many young French Muslims are influenced by extremist organizations such as the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. They hail bin Laden as a hero; during demonstrations in Paris, marchers recently shouted, "Death to America and the Jews." Since 2000, France has experienced its greatest wave of anti-Semitism since the 1930s. According to the Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l'Homme, whose statistics are used by the French government, anti-Semitic incidents jumped from 69 in 1999 to 970 five years later. Demography has changed, and French political figures hesitate to criticize members of their largest religious minority. In January 2004, a French Jewish singer was performing at a gala attended by, among others, First Lady Bernadette Chirac when young French Muslims in the first rows interrupted the performance with shouts of "dirty Jew," "death to the Jews," and "we'll kill you." Rather than condemn the blatant anti-Semitism, Mrs. Chirac remained silent.
France's historical legacy is also important. Colonial control of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, and Lebanon has marked the French psyche. France occupied Algeria for more than 130 years, withdrawing only after an eight-year war, which cost at least 300,000 Algerian and 20,000 French lives. Upon Algerian independence in 1962, more than one million French residents of Algeria returned to France; many had been there for generations, and some had intermarried with the Arab and Berber population. As the various French colonies and mandates achieved independence, Parisian politicians had trouble letting go. Today, French officials act as if they never lost their empire. The Quay d'Orsay, where the Foreign Ministry is housed, for example, continues to promote the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (International Francophone Organization), of which fifteen out of forty-nine states are Muslim, as a way to bolster the community and cohesion of former French colonies. Under Chirac, French policy has gone beyond special treatment for the French-speaking Middle East, though, and embraced even the most rejectionist Arab and Islamic regimes while simultaneously working to criticize and isolate Israel, oppose the war on terrorism, and undercut the emphasis on democratization.
The Evolution of French Policy
The Middle East policy espoused by Chirac and his appointees bears little likeness to that espoused by French decision-makers in decades past. The shift in policy is most clear with respect to Franco-Israeli relations. Paris supported Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967. Until the mid-1950s, France was Israel's chief if not only ally. Shimon Peres maintained an office at the French Ministry of Defense while serving as an aide to David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister. Israeli and French interests converged. In 1956, the Israeli Defense Force cooperated with the French and British militaries in military operations at Suez. According to Yuval Neeman, a former Israeli minister of science, Paris provided Israel with weapons in exchange for information about Egypt, which was helping the Algerian insurgents. The two states also cooperated on nuclear issues.
The French approach to the Middle East changed after the Israeli victory in the 1967 Six-Day war. President Charles de Gaulle began to espouse the decidedly pro-Arab policy that continues to the present. According to the news magazine Le Point, de Gaulle explained, "The Arabs have for themselves their numbers, space, and time." His was a Machiavellian calculation. He pursued what he saw as a long-term strategy: sacrificing good ties with Israel in order to win the good will of the more populous and oil-rich Arab world. Subsequent French leaders, both from the Left and the Right, adopted his policy. As early as 1974, for example, the conservative president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing established relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), despite its involvement in terrorism, including the murder of Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972 and the assassination of the U.S. ambassador to Sudan in March 1973. The secretary general of the Quai d'Orsay helped set up the PLO office in Paris.
The French approach to anti-Western figures and revolutionaries extended to provision of safe-haven to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the most prominent opponent to the Iranian regime of the pro-Western Mohammad Reza Shah. Khomeini used his time in France to engage the Western media and broadcast calls for revolution. The French approach backfired this time, however, for after reaching power, Khomeini sponsored terrorism on French soil—for example the wave of bombings in Paris in 1986, which killed eleven and wounded 275 and the 1991 assassination of Shahpour Bakhtiar, the last premier under the shah.
Beginning in the late 1970s, Lebanon became the focus of the French government's activism in the Middle East. In 1978, the French government made a contingent of troops available to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, created to monitor the Lebanese-Israeli border in the wake of Israel's Litani River operation. The French role in Lebanon increased in 1982 when 800 French troops joined an equal number of U.S. soldiers and 400 Italian troops to supervise the evacuation of the PLO from Lebanon and serve as peacekeepers. However, following the October 1983 bombing of the U.S. and French marine barracks, an attack that killed 241 U.S. and 57 French soldiers, Paris, along with Washington and Rome, withdrew its troops. However, the French government remained engaged. Paris participated in the 1991 liberation of Kuwait, even though its defense minister, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, resigned in protest. The French air force also helped enforce the no-fly zone over Iraqi Kurdistan although it later ceased its participation in order to maintain its lucrative trade relationship with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Throughout this period, the French government maintained cool relations with Israel, joining with the Arab League in condemning Israel while refusing to affix its name to resolutions condemning terrorism against the Jewish state. For instance in 2004, out of eighteen United Nations resolutions condemning Israel and vetoed by the United States, France voted thirteen times in favor and abstained five times.
Upon assuming the presidency in 1995, Chirac sought to readjust the status quo in French policy and shift Paris's sympathies further toward the Arab world. Speaking in Cairo in April 1996, Chirac declared, "France's Arab policy must be a dimension of its foreign policy. I wish to give it a new boost." The French government expanded its trade and cultural exchanges with the Arab world. By 2002, France was among the top three trade partners for most Arab countries: first in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Saddam's Iraq, second in Lebanon, and Syria, and third in Egypt. France was also first among foreign investors in Jordan.
Ahmed Youssef, author of L'Orient de Jacques Chirac, argues that Chirac's policies have made inroads with the Arab states:
As soon as the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians deteriorated, Chirac appeared, in the eyes of Arab opinion, to be the only Western leader that could counter the unconditional support of the United States to Israel. Chirac then became more popular than certain leaders or kings in the Arab capitals.
Many in the Arab world also admire Chirac for his charm, especially when working crowds. On October 22, 1996, Chirac sought to mix with bystanders while walking in a predominantly Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem. When Israeli security would not allow the crowds to approach too closely, he shouted, "This is not security; this is pure provocation, what do you want me to do? Fly back right away to Paris?" His theatrics won him friends among the Palestinians. His comments symbolized resistance to Israel, even as Chirac knew that he had put the Israeli security detail in an impossible situation.
His popularity has further grown as he has repeatedly juxtaposed his pro-Arab stance with Washington's support for Israel. When the White House and State Department condemned Palestinian terrorism, Chirac would often exculpate the bombers with talk of root causes. His popularity has become so great in recent years that a number of Palestinian families have named their sons "Chirac." During Ramadan in 2003, merchants in Cairo named the best quality dates—the traditional food with which Arabs break the sunrise to sunset fast—"Chiracs" to honor the French president. A May 2004 Zogby survey conducted in six Arab countries, found Chirac at the top of the list of world leaders in Egypt, Lebanon, and Morocco, and third in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. In contrast, the same polls found U.S. president George W. Bush the least favorite world leader after Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.
The basis of Chirac's outreach—and perhaps a cause of it—has been the development of close personal relationships with a number of Arab leaders, including not only Arafat and the late prime minister of Lebanon, Rafik al-Hariri, but also with the late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad, his son and successor Bashar, as well as former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. These personal relationships have become the backbone of French Middle East policy.
Chirac and Saddam Hussein
Perhaps Chirac's deepest friendship has been with Saddam Hussein. The two first met in December 1974 when Prime Minister Chirac visited Baghdad to negotiate trade agreements, including the delivery of a nuclear reactor later destroyed by an Israeli air raid in 1981. When Hussein visited France the following September—his only visit to a Western country—then-prime minister Chirac said, "I welcome you as my personal friend. I assure you of my esteem, my consideration, and my affection."
Resigning from government in 1976, Chirac founded the Rassemblement pour la Republique, which would soon become France's largest political party. There remain persistent rumors that Hussein helped finance the party, supported by allegations by Lebanese arms merchant Sarkis Soghanalian and by various Iraqi politicians. In 1992, Saddam reportedly threatened to expose French leaders who had earlier accepted his largesse. "From Mr. Chirac to Mr. Chevènement, politicians and economic leaders were in open competition to spend time with us and flatter us," the Iraqi leader reportedly said. "We have now grasped the reality of the situation [of France's support for the 1991 Gulf War, a betrayal in Saddam's eyes]. If the trickery continues, we will be forced to unmask them, all of them, before the French public." According to an aide, Chirac's friendship with Hussein was such that he would stop for a night in Baghdad whenever he traveled between Paris and Asia.
Baghdad rewarded Paris for its loyalty. Throughout the 1980s, Iraq bought US$25 billion worth of arms from French concerns, including Mirage fighters, Super Etendard aircraft, and Exocet missiles. The Iraqi government also picked French companies to build Saddam International Airport in 1982. The relationship between Chirac and Hussein went beyond the norm in Franco-Iraqi relations. When Chirac again became prime minister in 1986 after a decade out of power, the relationship once more blossomed. The following year, reports surfaced that Chirac had offered to rebuild the nuclear reactor destroyed by Israel in 1981. In 1994, French oil companies Total and Elf won contracts worth billions to develop southern Iraqi oil fields upon the lifting of the sanctions regime. When Chirac became president in 1995, his government began lobbying the United Nations to ameliorate if not lift sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The United Nation's Oil-for-Food program, inaugurated in 1996, allowed the Iraqi government to sell its oil in order to purchase food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies. Saddam Hussein rewarded Chirac's government for his support. France quickly became Iraq's chief trade partner, a position it maintained until 2003.
Hussein's investment in Chirac proved fruitful for the Iraqi leader. In 1998, when asked how patient he was prepared to be with Saddam Hussein, Chirac responded, "When it comes to humanitarian affairs, France's patience is limitless." In the months preceding the 2003 Iraq war, French resistance to sanctions or military action against Baghdad grew. According to The Sunday Times of London, French officials regularly "kept Saddam abreast of every development in American planning and may have helped him to prepare for war." In January 2003, a French company sold aircraft and helicopter parts to Iraq for its French-made Mirage fighters and Gazelle helicopters. On October 26, 2003, rockets struck the Rashid Hotel in Baghdad during the visit of U.S. deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz. Subsequent investigation showed these to be French-made Matra SNEB 68-millimeter. The pristine condition of those left behind suggested manufacture after the imposition of sanctions.
Several French officials benefited personally from their close ties to Baghdad. Documents unearthed in the wake of the Iraqi regime's collapse suggest that French officials accepted lucrative oil vouchers from the Iraqi government in exchange for diplomatic favors. According to the September 2004 Duelfer report, titled Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq's WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction), Iraq's former deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, said he "personally awarded several French individuals substantial oil allotments." Aziz told his interrogators that both parties understood that resale of the oil was to be reciprocated through efforts to lift U.N. sanctions or through opposition to U.S. initiatives within the Security Council." Also, according to an Iraqi intelligence service memo, a French politician met in May 2002 with an Iraqi official and "assured the Iraqi that France would use its veto in the UNSC [U.N. Security Council] against any American decision to attack Iraq."
Among the French officials indicted are several members of Chirac's inner circle, including Charles Pasqua, his former interior minister. A May 17, 2005 report released by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations concluded,
Documents created by the Ministry of Oil during the Hussein regime and interviews of high-ranking Hussein regime officials conducted by the Subcommittee provide substantial evidence that Charles Pasqua was granted oil allocations for 11 million barrels of oil from the Hussein regime under the Oil-for-Food Program in return for his continued support.
Documents reveal that the Iraqi government also gave fourteen million barrels of oil to French businessman Patrick Maugein, whom it considered "a conduit to French president Chirac." The French judiciary has begun investigating leads on the Maugein connection. While citizens of many other countries are involved, few are as senior or as well connected to their governments as the Frenchmen involved. The level of oil-for-food contacts reflects both the high-level of Franco-Iraqi ties, as well as Saddam Hussein's belief that the Chirac administration was an easy target for a campaign of influence.
Chirac and Arafat
Jacques Chirac's relationship with the Iraqi dictator was not an exception but part of a pattern of embracing Middle Eastern rulers hostile to international norms of behavior and in conflict with Western democracies. Soon after assuming the presidency, Chirac sought rapprochement with Palestinian Authority leader Yasir Arafat. On March 13, 1996, for example, Chirac told Arafat, "When you have a problem, call Doctor Chirac." Arafat inculcated the message. Later that year during a joint Ramallah press conference with Chirac, Arafat declared, "We need Doctor Chirac to save the peace process."
When French foreign minister Michel Barnier began his first Middle East tour in June 2004, he scheduled a meeting with Arafat, foregoing a meeting with Sharon to do so. Barnier's visit tried to undercut the efforts of Bush, Sharon, and other Western leaders, who were seeking to isolate Arafat because of his support of terrorism. Barnier said that the French government wanted to reaffirm Arafat's indispensable role in the Middle East and said that Israel's isolation of Arafat was disgraceful. Chirac reiterated this criticism during the June 2004 NATO summit in Istanbul saying,
Arafat is probably the only person capable of imposing on the Palestinian people compromises, particularly of a territorial nature, which could not be imposed, today at any rate, by anyone else. This is why I believe that wanting to isolate him isn't very prudent or very much in line with a strategy of restoring peace.
The French government's outreach to Arafat led it not only to turn a blind eye to his role in terrorism but also to twist the historical record to exculpate him for previous failures to negotiate. Following the collapse of the July 2000 Camp David II summit between Arafat and Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, President Bill Clinton blamed Arafat for refusing the peace deal arrived at by his negotiators. In a June 2004 interview with right-wing daily Le Figaro, Hubert Vedrine, French foreign affairs minister between 1997 and 2002, suggested that the fault was not Arafat's and that Clinton, as an American politician beholden to the U.S. Jewish lobby, had no choice but to criticize the Palestinian politician. Such suggestions flew in the face of the historical record but nevertheless proved popular with an Arab audience that wanted to admit no responsibility.
As Arafat's health deteriorated in his Ramallah compound, Chirac interceded for the Palestinian politician. French taxpayers footed the expense not only for Arafat's transportation but also for that of his entire entourage. Chirac placed several Palestinian officials in a five-star hotel at French government expense. The red carpet treatment ensured French favor among the Palestinian street. French flags and posters thanking Chirac dotted the Ramallah square outside Arafat's headquarters.
In a partly handwritten October 28, 2004 note to the ill Arafat, Chirac said, "I wish that you could resume as soon as possible your work at the service of the Palestinian people ... [France] will always stand next to you." Le Figaro commented that Paris had become the capital of Palestine for the thirteen days of Arafat's deathwatch. Upon Arafat's death, the stoic Chirac had tears in his eyes as he eulogized him as "a man of courage and conviction." The embrace of Arafat through his final days got Chirac what he wanted: to be the center of attention of the world and bolster French influence in the Arab world.
The Syrian Connection
While the French bond with Syria has long been strong, Chirac worked to bolster relations even further. Quoting de Gaulle, Chirac described Franco-Syrian ties as an "indestructible friendship." He was the only Western head of state to attend Hafez al-Assad's funeral in 2000. Bashar al-Assad's first official trip outside the Middle East was to Paris in June 2001 although Chirac had cultivated his relationship with the young Assad, receiving him at Elysée Palace in November 1999 prior to his accession to power.
In October 2000, the city of Lyon picked Aleppo, Syria's second largest city, as its sister city. In 2001, the École Nationale d'Administration, the prestigious Parisian school in which almost the entire French political class, including Chirac, former president Giscard d'Estaing, current prime minister Dominique de Villepin, and former prime minister Lionel Jospin studied, began to train Syrian professors in order to tie together future French and Syrian officials. In 2004, the École Nationale d'Administration furthered its outreach to Syrian officials by opening a branch in Damascus, adding to branches already operating in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
The Chirac administration's support for the Assad regime is not only limited to public gestures. The French government has reportedly sold weapons systems such as self-propelled howitzers equipped with night vision gear to Syria. As in the case of Iraq, there are lingering questions of Syrian payments to French politicians. Many French politicians join associations and charitable boards both for financial and political gain. The board of the L'Association d'Amitié France-Syrie (France-Syria Friendship Association) boasts among its members former prime minister Raymond Barre, former secretary of state Claude Cheysson, and 2007 presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy.
So why did Paris join with Washington on September 2, 2004, to cosponsor U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, which demanded the withdrawal of Syrian troops occupying Lebanon and the disarmament of militias? The left-of-center daily Libération suggested the temporary unity was because the murder of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri forced Chirac temporarily to choose between Arab friends. Hariri described Chirac as "my best pal" shortly before his death. Some French papers have reported that the Lebanese billionaire contributed to Chirac's 2002 reelection campaign. Chirac rewarded his friend by helping the Lebanese government avert bankruptcy. For example, in November 2002, he put together the Paris II conference, in which European leaders, Saudi officials, and representatives from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank worked to extend credit to Lebanon. Chirac helped the Lebanese government win $4.4 billion of international credits. But the February 14, 2005 assassination of Hariri forced the French hand. According to one French diplomat, "Before, all we did for Syria was because of Hariri; now everything we do against Syria is because of Hariri, again." Now that the Syrian troop withdrawal is complete, Chirac may again embrace the Syrian president. Quay d'Orsay has not fully accepted U.S. concerns regarding Syrian support for Lebanese Hezbollah, for example.
Chirac has long embraced Hezbollah. Former U.S. senator Bob Graham (Democrat, Fla.), relates how, upon arriving in Damascus in July 2002, he saw an Iranian cargo plane on the tarmac. He asked a U.S. diplomat what it might be carrying. The embassy aide replied, "Probably arms and ammunition, other military equipment for Hezbollah. This is the primary point of delivery." Such matter-of-fact concerns regarding Hezbollah's commitment to violence did not factor in Chirac's decision to embrace the group.
Prior to the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Hezbollah had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group; it still has the distinction of having killed more Frenchmen than any other terrorist group outside of the Algerian war for independence because of its bombing of the French marine barracks in Beirut and subsequent kidnapping of sixteen French citizens. Nevertheless, in October 2002, Chirac invited Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah secretary general, to attend the Francophone summit in Beirut. Their meeting bestowed legitimacy upon the group, whose raison d'être disappeared upon the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon two years before. The French government has continued to resist calls not only from Washington and Jerusalem but also from some within Europe to label Hezbollah a terrorist organization, preferring instead to categorize the group as a "social" organization. The one concession the French government has made to other Western governments has been to ban Hezbollah's Al-Manar satellite channel in December 2004. The move came under tremendous pressure from French politicians and public alike, outraged at the station's flouting of French laws banning anti-Semitism.
Chirac's consistent support for Hezbollah has won him the group's favor. In April 2005, Nasrallah published a commentary in the Beirut daily As-Safir in which he welcomed a French role in Lebanese reconciliation and declared that the "Lebanese do not like to see France held hostage to the savage and aggressive American hegemony."
Does the Chirac Doctrine Work?
Chirac may have several reasons for extending French embrace beyond mere sympathy with the Arab world to uncritical support of rogues regardless of their rejectionism or support for terror. Part of his embrace of Saddam Hussein, Yasir Arafat, Bashar al-Assad, and Hassan Nasrallah may be due to a desire to undercut U.S. objectives in the Middle East and thereby bolster French prestige at U.S. expense. His personal antipathy toward Israel and desire to please his Muslim constituency may also contribute. When terrorists killed French Jews in Israel, French officials often failed to express condolences. French diplomacy continues to show total disdain for the Jewish state. The French ambassador to the United Kingdom, for example, called Israel "that little shitty country" at a dinner party hosted by Daily Telegraph columnist Barbara Amiel. The new French ambassador to Israel labeled Sharon a "rogue."
From Chirac's perspective, though, his policies have bolstered French prestige. A close friend of Chirac explained, "For 1.2 billion [Muslim] people, France exists." The importance of Paris may have declined within Europe, in the trans-Atlantic relationship, and even among many of her former colonies, but within the Islamic world, France retains some of her former stature. Yet, preservation of such prestige may come at a high cost. In December 2003, a blue-ribbon panel reported that increasing Islamism within the French Muslim community threatened French secularism. The 1905 law on the separation of church and state constitutes a pillar of the French republic. Chirac supported a March 2004 law banning head coverings, including scarves and hijab from public schools. In doing so, he incurred the wrath of Islamist radicals in France and abroad. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi warned that Chirac's "extremist decision is against the citizens' rights and will tarnish France's image in the Islamic world." On January 2, 2004, Iranians chanting "Death to France" interrupted a sermon critical of the French decision by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a close associate of Iranian supreme leader 'Ali Khamene'i. Sheikh Mohammed Qabbani, mufti of the Lebanese republic, accused the French government of showing "a hatred of Islam."
It remains unclear whether Chirac's pro-Arab policy has translated into real influence among the most radical segments of Arab society. When the Iraqi Islamic army insurgent group seized two French journalists just outside of Baghdad in August 2004, French foreign minister Barnier appeared on Al-Jazeera to reiterate Chirac's pro-Arab policy and to thank the Arabic satellite channel for support. The kidnappers demanded that the French government lift its ban on headscarves. Protestors marched in support of their demands in Lebanon and Bahrain. Several months later, the group released the journalists unharmed after 124 days. Their captors declared that their "liberation occurred because of the numerous calls of Muslim organizations along with the appreciation of the French government's position on Iraq and that of the two journalists regarding the Palestinian cause."
The French Left nevertheless criticized Chirac for not having succeeded earlier in freeing the hostages. Former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said that France had not paid a ransom although a high official in the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, France's secret service, contradicted this statement. It is unclear whether the hostages' release can be credited to the success of Chirac's policy or rather was the result of a ransom payment. Roger Auque, a French journalist and former hostage in Lebanon, speculated that the French government also made political concessions, perhaps promising not to send troops to Iraq and offering to review the law banning headscarves and hijab in public schools. Serge July, editor of left-leaning Libération questioned whether the cost of Chirac's political gestures was too high.
The deaths of Hafez al-Assad, Arafat, and Hariri, as well as the ouster of Saddam Hussein suggest that the political benefits of the Chirac doctrine may be fleeting. Developing relationships takes time. The new Iraqi government resents the French embrace of Saddam Hussein. If other Middle Eastern dictatorships succumb to the tentative wave of democratization, there is no guarantee they will embrace Paris or honor commercial accords made under dictatorship. But growing Islamist pressure inside France may, nevertheless, push Chirac and his successors to pursue an even more pro-Arab policy. The legacy of the Chirac doctrine, though, may not be the French grandeur that Chirac and his allies seek, but rather a reputation for cynicism, hostility to democracy and reform, and association with the worst excesses of Middle Eastern society.
Olivier Guitta is a Washington, D.C. freelance writer specializing in the Middle East and Europe.
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 Le Figaro (Paris), Oct. 16, 2004.
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 See, for examples, Thomas Friedman, "Divided We Stand," The New York Times, Jan. 23, 2005.
 Agence France-Presse, Oct. 19, 2004.
 La lutte contre le racisme et la xénophobie: rapport d'activité 2004 (Paris: Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l'Homme, La Documentation française, 2005), p. 26.
 Proche-Orient.info, Feb. 2, 2004.
 Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples (New York: Warner Books, 1991), p. 372.
 The best overview of early French diplomacy toward Arabs and Jews in the Middle East is David Pryce-Jones, "Jews, Arabs, and French Diplomacy: A Special Report," Commentary, May 2005, pp. 27-45.
 Luc Rosenzweig, Lettre à mes amis propalestiniens (Paris: La Martiniere Textes, 2005), p. 110.
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 Alexandre Adler, J'ai vu finir le monde ancien (Paris: Pluriel, 2003), p. 214.
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 Ibid., p. 18.
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 Agence France-Presse, Nov. 1, 2004.
 Jean-David Levitte, French ambassador to the United States, interview with the author, Washington D.C., May 7, 2004.
 Le Monde, Dec. 15, 2004.
 As-Safir (Beirut), Apr. 13, 2005; Middle East Online, Apr. 13, 2005.
 The Daily Telegraph (London), Dec. 17, 2001.
 Agence France-Presse, Sept. 1, 2003.
 Le Point, Feb. 14, 2003.
 Bernard Stasi, Commission de réflexion sur l'application du principe de laïcité dans la République, rapport au Président de la République, Dec. 11, 2003 (Paris: La Documentation française, 2004), p. 7.
 Proche-Orient.info, Dec. 23, 2003.
 Proche-Orient.info, Sept. 6, 2004.
 Daniel Pipes, "Death to France?" DanielPipes.org weblog, Jan. 3, 2004.
 Le Monde, Dec. 23, 2003.
 Interview with Michel Barnier, Al-Jazeera, Sept. 1, 2004.
 Le Figaro, Dec. 22, 2004.
 Agence France-Presse, Dec. 22, 2004.
 Le Monde, Dec. 22, 2004.
 France Soir (Paris), Dec. 22, 2004.
 Agence France-Presse, Jan. 25, 2005.