NATO's decision to help train Iraq's armed forces set off wrangling among the allies Tuesday as more differences emerged between the French and Americans on how to best help Baghdad's new government.Dangerous, Mr. Chirac? Certainly. But the US forces are no strangers to that, Sir. And frankly, Sir, somethings are worth making an effort that is neither easy nor entirely safe.
At a summit designed to emphasize NATO's unity, France and the United States also clashed over Afghanistan and Turkey's relations with the European Union.
French President Jacques Chirac stated his forceful opposition to any collective NATO presence on the ground in Iraq.
"It would be dangerous, counterproductive and misunderstood by the Iraqis, who after all deserve a little bit of respect," Chirac said.
American officials insisted the training program should be a centralized operation under a NATO command in Iraq, although they accepted that reluctant countries such as France and Germany could limit their contribution to training outside the country.
With all allies stressing the urgency of sending help to the fledgling Iraqi forces, the debate on how NATO puts its agreement into practice is expected to start when envoys from the alliance meet Thursday in Brussels.
Counterproductive, Mr. Chirac? Ya got me on that one. I fail to see how NATO's on-site assistance to the world's most nascent democracy could be counterproductive to anything but your political career, since you staked your position in the wrong corner on this issue.
Misunderstood by the Iraqis Mr. Chirac? Frankly, Sir, I find that assertion to be just the sort of pompous, insulting elitism we've come to expect from you. Are you implying the concepts involved here are too complex for the Iraqis comprehension? Is this a nation of simpletons, Sir, who cannot contextually understand assistance from the one alliance in the world that has built its reputation on the support of liberty and democracy? Are we to understand the French motto of "Liberty, Brotherhood and Equality" does not apply to people trying now to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps, Mr. Chirac?
Sir, you are, and apparently will remain always, a weasel.