Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Compare and Contrast

Q: When faced with a crisis, how should a national leader respond?

Jacques Chirac, President of the Republic of France:

Faced with the uncertainties of the times and of the world, with a sense of impotence, of being at times in the grip of confusion, everyone is seeking more personal, more immediate points of reference: family, neighbourhood solidarities, community associations. And this aspiration is natural. It is even an asset. It shows the capacity of Frenchmen and women to mobilize, act and give free rein to their energies and their initiatives.

Yet this movement must find its limits in the upholding of respect for common values. The danger lies in the release of centrifugal forces, the exalting of divisive particularisms; in wanting to see rules governing sections of our society take priority over national law. The danger lies in divisiveness, discrimination and confrontation.

Let us look at what is happening elsewhere. Societies structured around communities are frequently victims of unacceptable inequalities.

Splitting society into communities cannot be the choice for France. It would be contrary to our history, traditions and culture. It would be contrary to our humanist principles, our faith in social advancement solely on the strength of ability and merit, and to our commitment to equality and fraternity among all French people.

This is why I refuse to commit France to that path. It would sacrifice her heritage; it would compromise her future; it would result in the loss of her soul.

That is also why we have a compelling duty to act. The way to reinvent a new common destiny is not through immobilism or nostalgia; it is through being clear-sighted, imaginative and remaining true to what we are. (...) [sic]

All the children of France, whatever their background, whatever their origin, whatever their beliefs, are daughters and sons of the Republic. They must be recognized as such, in law, but above all in fact. By respecting this requirement, overhauling our policy of integration and our ability to ensure equal opportunities at the practical level, we will restore full vitality to our nation's cohesion.
George W. Bush, President of the United States:

Reasonable people can disagree about the conduct of the war, but it is irresponsible for Democrats to now claim that we misled them and the American people. Leaders in my administration and members of the United States Congress from both political parties looked at the same intelligence on Iraq, and reached the same conclusion: Saddam Hussein was a threat.

Let me give you some quotes from three senior Democrat leaders: First, and I quote, "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons." Another senior Democrat leader said, "The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as Saddam Hussein is in power." Here's another quote from a senior Democrat leader: "Saddam Hussein, in effect, has thumbed his nose at the world community. And I think the President is approaching this in the right fashion."

They spoke the truth then, and they're speaking politics now.

The truth is that investigations of intelligence on Iraq have concluded that only one person manipulated evidence and misled the world -- and that person was Saddam Hussein. In early 2004, when weapons inspector David Kay testified that he had not found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he also testified that, "Iraq was in clear material violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441. They maintained programs and activities, and they certainly had the intentions at a point to resume their programs. So there was a lot they wanted to hide because it showed what they were doing that was illegal."

Eight months later, weapons inspector Charles Duelfer issued a report that found, "Saddam Hussein so dominated the Iraqi regime that its strategic intent was his alone. He wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction when the sanctions were lifted."

Some of our elected leaders have opposed this war all along. I disagreed with them, but I respect their willingness to take a consistent stand. Yet some Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force are now rewriting the past. They are playing politics with this issue and they are sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And that's irresponsible.

As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them into war continue to stand behind them. Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory.
Which is more important: the state of the nation, or the political status of the President?

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