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RIP Jacques Chirac. His ‘no’ to 2003 Iraq war stirred Francophobia, ‘dear old’ West only wants ‘yes’ men

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His chequered record in office is redeemed on account of one important action, the way he refused to support the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

It’s worth remembering the wave of neocon-induced Francophobia that Chirac’s opposition to war unleashed. The French were labelled ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys.’ French fries were renamed ‘freedom fries.’ Racegoers in Britain were encouraged to boo French-trained horses at the racetrack. The Economist in October 2002 said, by way of condemnation, ‘So far Russia and France have been all too ready to explore any option but war.’ The utter scoundrels!

For French people living in the US and UK, and for Francophiles like myself, it was a difficult time.

But Chirac and France were fully vindicated by the stance which wasn’t cowardly but actually extremely sagacious. The ‘surrender monkeys,’ (whether or not they were cheese-eaters), were actually those in the US and UK establishments, and the leaders of the other countries who supported the attack, who backed George Bush and the hardline Washington neocons.

Writing in the Guardian on 12th February 2003, the late left-wing journalist Paul Foot spoke for many in Britain........

© RT.com