... and it's ugly. Any of my much-appreciated French-speaking readers can watch the video and see exactly how France 2 humiliates the French Government. It must be sobering for a once-great world power to be confronted so directly with their present impotence.
The tsunami disaster is having a wholly different effect on the world than the invasion of Iraq, because unlike the people of Iraq no one can plausibly claim to be against helping the tsunami victims. Impotent "world powers" positioned themselves on Saddam's side because they didn't want to reveal that they didn't have the ability to take him out. But now their weakness becomes evident to everyone as they scramble madly to match the aid America and our armed forces are projecting halfway around the planet.
For days now, the US military has been getting favorable coverage on the French nightly news due to its response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami. But tonight's broadcast was simply astounding. At 8 minutes into the broadcast, anchor David Pujadas begins a discussion of the disaster response and introduced a report on the American deployment:First off, here is the powerful American machinery in action. For 24 hours now, there has been a landing ["débarquement"] taking place — there is no other word — while helicopters continue the distribution [of humanitarian aid]....
On screen, we then see a French doctor say... "As soon as our supplies gets here. No problem." Then we are treated to the image of the French begging for assistance from an Indonesian colonel! "We're expecting helicopters tomorrow," he says, asking for two trucks so they can move supplies. The colonel laughs and claps him on the shoulder. Then the French meet with some Americans. "It's been tough for us," says a French firefighter. "The Americans prove goodnatured toward the 'Frenchies,'" says the narrator. "But not much else." Then a big, impressive American Chinook helicopter arrives, empty, to pick up American journalists. French men looking dejected.
The report ends with the following summation:... that the French army should even now be unable to provide them with a few helicopters 15 days after the fact is surprising, especially given the public outcry that the tsunami provoked. It is as though France no longer has the means even to express its emotions.
Read the whole thing, it's pretty absurd, and particularly embarrasing when French Defense minister Michèle Alliot-Marie tries to explain why France is so pathetic.
Alliot-Marie, until recently a senior lecturer at the Sorbonne with degrees in law and ethnography, answers, "of course," but then engages in a wince-making attempt at damage control. "France is far from Indonesia," she says. "If there were many American helicopters on the scene, this is because the Americans were already there," she says.
You think Chirac was watching this at home? Was he in the next room with the sound on, pouring himself a drink? Did he throw a Baccarat crystal glass at the TV?
"They had an aircraft carrier with numerous helicopters that had docked at Hong Kong," she continues. "They've got a base in Guam, which is really quite close. So they arrived very quickly."
Yeah, it's called power. Maybe you've heard of it.
(HT: Glenn Reynolds.)