- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Some high-ranking Republicans told me they briefly considered snubbing a French Embassy Christmas party Wednesday after Amb. Gérard Araud tweeted — then quickly deleted – an accurate but ill-timed observation about U.S. history.

The ambassador reminded the U.S. that it had not sided with the Brits and French against the fascist powers in the 1930s.

In an exquisite example of what Americans in Paris long ago came to know as the arrogance that some Parisians mistake for manners, Monsieur Araud posted a humdinger on Dec. 7, the day 76 years ago when Imperial Japan’s air force surprised and destroyed the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

“In this Pearl Harbor day, we should remember that the U.S. refused to side with France and U.K. to confront fascist powers in the 30s,” Monsieur Araud tweeted.

The sneak attack – Japan’s, not M. Araud’s — was, as President Roosevelt said on that day in 1941, would live in infamy. It also let him to do with impunity what he had ached to do long before – formally enter World War II on the side of the democracies against Germany’s Adolph Hitler, Italy’s Benito Mussolini and Japan’s Emperor Hirohito.

He hadn’t been able to do that because the U.S. electorate was thought to be in a determinedly “mind our own business” mood after wasting money and lives in what the bang-bang lovers had billed as the “war to end all wars” and that didn’t because it was pointless slaughter the vindictive culmination of which created the atmosphere for the growth of fascism.

In a follow-up, the ambassador – who displays the style typical of a graduate of the Idi Amin School of International Diplomacy – tweeted:

“UK, France and US committed awful mistakes in the 30s. Because of its geography, France was the first to pay for them.”

And in yet another follow-up, he wrote:

“We are immensely grateful for what the US did for France in 1944 but it is a fact that US, France and UK committed mistakes in the 30s.”

Well, the miserable facts of history are that France, the U.K. and the U.S. ultimately enabled fascist movements in Europe and Japan by forcing the Versailles Treaty on the WWI losers and in allowing Hitler to gain “elbowroom” in Europe and Hideki Tojo to expand in Asia.

Democracies are – as Winston Churchill observed “the worst form of government, except for all the others” – and democracies can and do make mistakes.

A diplomat and an obvious faux pas (French for “faux pas”) are not supposed to occupy the same space at the same time, most especially when the gaffe in questions reminds your host of his past mistakes. But with this emissary, undiplomatic accuracy is second nature. On the night President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, M. Araud tweeted, “It is the end of an era, the era of neoliberalism. We don’t yet know what will succeed it.” He added, “After Brexit and this election anything is possible. A world is collapsing before our eyes. Vertigo.”

Who can argue with that?

Not the high-ranking Republicans who decided improving M. Araud’s timing is best done through personal diplomacy at a Christmas party.

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