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Ethics á la française

Posted by Helen Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Wall Street Journal Europe reports with some bemusement that the French Foreign Ministry, the Quai d’Orsay wants to create an “ethics committee” for its diplomatic services. No, it seems the story is not a leg-pull. They really are talking about it.

As the article [available on subscription only] says:

“Certainly the foreign ministry does have a huge PR mess on its hands. A former French ambassador to the United Nations, a former secretary-general of the French foreign ministry, nine other high-ranking Frenchmen as well as a plethora of French companies stand accused of profiting from the U.N.’s corrupt program. While on Saddam Hussein’s bribe-roll, many of these official were ouspokenly opposed to American-led efforts to depose him.”
Things have got so bad that the French press has been critical of the government line, Le Monde going so far as to say:
“Even the most indulgent will wonder about the risks of a pro-Arab policy that was at times willfully blind.”
Strewth. That’s telling them.

The French Foreign Minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, on the other hand, seems quite unaware of the problem, even though, he presumably authorized the idea of an “ethics committee”. Writing in Libération a few days ago, he boasted:
“If France preserves a pioneering role for the respoect of cultural diversity, if its voice carries in the great conflicts of the world, if our country continues to draw attention and to cause curiosity and admiration, she owes this recognition largely to our diplomacy.”
And we think our politicians live in a hermetically sealed bubble.

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