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Friday, March 14, 2003

Our _______, the French.

Anger at Saddam's diplomatic shields is rising throughout the Anglosphere.

1. Dig them up and bring them home, says Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite:

A Florida congresswoman introduced a Bill on Capitol Hill that would allow the families of Second World War dead to dig up their bones and take them home.

Ginny Brown-Waite said that her American Heroes Repatriation Act 2003 was a response to constituents’ concerns that their fathers and grandfathers were lying in “unpatriotic soil”. She said: “The French don’t seem to remember that if it wasn’t for America, they would be speaking German.”

2. The 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing has a blunt message for Paris.

3. Australia's tough-minded PM is blasting Chiraq:

In the toughest attack by an Australian leader on France since it held a final round of nuclear testing in the Pacific in the mid-1990s, Howard accused Paris of manipulating the Iraq issue in a game of diplomatic one-upmanship against the United States.

"It doesn't seem to me that France's first priority is to find a peaceful solution" to the Iraqi crisis, he said.

"I think her first priority is to position France vis-a-vis the US and I think that's a pity."

"I regret to say the French are playing a spoiling role."

Howard, who hit out at France repeatedly in interviews and public speeches Friday, said the French position was illogical because it welcomed the minimal progress made by weapons inspectors in Iraq while condeming the threatened use of force that led to their deployment.

If US and British troops now massed on Iraq's borders went home, "does anybody really believe the weapons inspectors would then continue to get cooperation from Iraq?," he asked.

4. Finally, reporting from Britain, it appears Franco-British relations are at their most hostile since Waterloo:

Chirac’s stubborn stand sparked a bitter war of words between Britain and France. Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed Chirac had brought war closer by easing the pressure on Saddam to destroy his weapons of mass destruction.

America also tore into the French leader, accusing him of giving succour to his “friend” Saddam.

But it was Mr Blair, who has worked round the clock for a peace deal, who was most furious.

He claimed the “unreasonable” French had wrecked hopes of winning a second UN resolution to show the world’s desire for a concerted effort to tackle Iraq.

In a brutal put-down, Mr Blair’s official spokesman said: “France rejected our tests before Iraq. Enough said.”

He accused Chirac of turning his back on a commitment to disarm Saddam when he supported the last UN resolution in November.

The spokesman said: “This is poisoning the diplomatic process.

“It’s clear what we meant when everyone — including France — signed UN resolution 1441.

“When we warned Saddam would face serious consequences if he failed to comply, we didn’t just mean more weapons inspectors.”

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said it was “extraordinary” that France was prepared to vote no to any proposal, regardless of its content. He said: “Without proper consideration, the French government has rejected these proposals.

“We will continue to work for a peaceful end. But this obviously makes that process more difficult.”

* * *
The row plunged Britain’s chilly relationship with France into a deep freeze. Experts feared it could take years, even decades, to rebuild the shattered entente. Tory foreign affairs spokesman Alan Duncan said: “They have been hypocrites on the second resolution from the start.”

Britain’s former ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, accused Chirac of “inhabiting a box with Saddam”.

In a ferocious attack on Paris, he said: “They are in effect giving comfort to Saddam Hussein.”

5. War appears to be very near:

The Queen was put on stand-by last night to give official royal backing to war on Saddam.

Tony Blair ordered the monarch to cancel Monday’s visit to Brussels in order to invoke the Royal Prerogative needed before troops go into action.

She will rubber-stamp the move at an emergency War Cabinet meeting on Monday.

MPs will be given a chance to vote in a special debate on Tuesday — but by then the war is expected to have started.

6. Even if some of the Labour MPs are wobbly, the Tories appear to have stepped into the breach:

Iain Duncan Smith signalled yesterday the Tories WOULD support war without a second UN resolution.

Ex-Army officer Mr Duncan Smith said a new resolution was “less likely than at any time before”, making military action more likely.

Asked about the Tories’ stance he said: “We have always made it clear it was a very good idea to get that second resolution. But a second resolution, whilst important, is not absolutely vital because 1441 authorises military action for the UN if Saddam does not comply.”

The Tory leader spoke out after Downing Street talks at which Tony Blair told him the French had “threatened to veto almost anything that is put forward”.

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