A Good Time For Silence

War with Iraq is a controversial issue. Our nation is split over whether or not to oust Saddam Hussein by going to war. This debate has spanned the better part of a year. It has manifested itself in the form of protests, rallies, vigils, and congressional hearings. Here on our own campus, some vigils and rallies on both sides of the issue have been held. In the international realm, even more controversy has been spawned. The world is divided. France and Germany have voiced their anti-war opinions, while Britain and Spain have supported the American views and resolutions to the United Nations. Recently many eastern European nations being considered for membership in the European Union (EU) signed two different letters supporting the United States on its stance on Iraq. Among these are Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. This support has attracted heavy criticism from French President Jacques Chirac, who has referred to these nations’ action as “reckless,” “irresponsible,” and “infantile.” Then, speaking of Romania and Bulgaria, Chirac commented, “They missed a great opportunity to shut up,” and threatened, “if they wanted to diminish their chances of joining Europe, they could not have found a better way.” This outburst was totally out of line. Demeaning and threatening, this childish tirade has no place in civilized, democratized debate. Instead of furthering his cause, Chirac has shown France’s position to be one of the most base viewpoints in European politics. That Chirac, a representative of one of many member nations of the EU, should threaten these nations for holding their view is even more unacceptable. This type of behavior serves only to destroy the environment required to foster useful discussion about how to solve world problems. No doubt Romania and Bulgaria fell prey to this attack because they do not possess the political clout of France. Chirac used his position to try to bully and blackmail these nations into expressing France’s views – an action that undermines the EU and makes a mockery of the rest of the world. Such insults and threats should and cannot be taken seriously. The French people should be ashamed of what their president’s comment. The worst consequence of Jacques Chirac’s rant are the possibly detrimental effects to the movement to postpone the war here in the United States. Such comments only undermine the generally legitimate argument that the French have made in the past regarding Iraq. Chirac’s actions do not reflect well on his argument; one does not convince his opponent in a debate by abusing him, for such tactics should only serve to alienate his opponent and all those listening who hold similar views. The overall ramifications of Chirac’s insolence have served to undermine not only him, France, and the EU in their efforts, but also the point for which he and many others have been arguing. His puerile comments are unacceptable in today’s society. In making such remarks, he has done little more that hurt his own case and position on the world stage. He has embarrassed himself and the EU. It would seem that Chirac has missed his opportunity to shut up.