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The French government is now at pains to reassure everyone that it favors a Coalition victory. This is despite the serpentine ‘de’ Villepin’s recent refusal to give a straight answer to a questioner asking which side the French foreign minister wanted to win the war.

There are a number of interpretations for Villepin’s curious behavior. Perhaps he simply misspoke. It’s easy to do, particularly if you are, like the French foreign minister, someone who has never achieved elected office and are thus, perhaps, somewhat nervous in front of a critical audience.

A second interpretation is more likely, however. Having formally proclaimed his support for a Coalition victory on March 24th, this wily diplomat was now using a ‘slip of the tongue’ to signal to Arab regimes – and Saddam’s in particular – that French loyalties were more divided than the need to maintain some sort of Western solidarity might suggest.

If Chirac is interested in repairing the rifts he has created in the West, he could start by firing this minister. After all, there is somewhere else for Villepin, a fan of Napoleon, to go.

Saint Helena is still a British colony.




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