Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, October 22, 2002
FEARLESSLY SEEKING ALLIES against the US, Phil Adams lights upon the French equivalent of the Friends of the British Council, La Francophonie.

This body includes any country that suffered the appalling consequences of French colonisation and wants some free tickets to the Lebanon, and any other country that could find a french-speaker with a week to spare.

The reason for meeting in Beiruit: "France is uncomfortably close to the Middle East", according to Phil, meaning Uncle supposes separated by only 25 other countries.

But they're prepared to be told they should share the Gastropod's hostility to Anglo-Saxon hegemony, ie US "unilateralism", so they just have to be taken seriously as an alternative force. And any alternative just has to be a better one, doesn't it.

France resisted the 1991 Gulf War, winning Phil's praise, and, no doubt, remunerative concessions from as many sides as could be identified.

At the Beiruit frog-fest: "He [Chirac] really went for the US" cries Phil, trusting to his briefing notes. "Well, he didn't actually mention the US by name", responds Dr Peter Brown of the Australian National University, Australia's own francophone junketeer from Beiruit.

Well, Phil can't speak French, and has no grip on international politics, but he does understand opportunism.