French political culture

Two former French ambassadors have admitted earning hundreds of thousands of dollars from the sale of oil that Iraq had assigned to them under the UN Oil-for-Food program. The disclosure tarnished France’s moral stand against the invasion of Iraq, and its Foreign Ministry scrambled to distance itself from the alleged illicit activities of Serge Boidevaix, a former director of the ministry, and of Jean-Bernard Merimee, a former French Ambassador to the UN.

Folks, with just one-fifth the population of the U.S., 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.

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.

Mmmm, there’s nothing like French political culture, folks, just don’t swallow too much of it; it’s likely to make you sick.

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