Sunday, February 16
Cheese-eating monkeys and Gallic merde
Nicole Mowbray, The Observer, February 16, 2003
The ill-tempered insults that have characterised the war-peace debate in the past few weeks began in earnest with US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's sneer at 'old Europe', a remark which angered the French and Germans.
Roselyne Bachelot, the French Environment Minister, said Rumsfeld was talking 'Cambronne's word'. Cambronne was a French general who, when fatally wounded at Waterloo, said simply, 'Merde'. Joschka Fischer, the German Foreign Minister, said Rumsfeld should 'cool' down.
With calculated insouciance, Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush's spokesman, said France and Germany had the 'prerogative, if they choose, to be on the sideline', making clear that US forces would go ahead in any event.
'The game is over,' President Bush told Iraq on Thursday. 'It's not a game, and it's not over,' Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the French Prime Minister, shot back yesterday.
Hostile television networks and editorial writers are competing to come up with the wittiest anti-Franco bile. Phrases coined include 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys' and 'axis of weasel' for the French-German alliance. The co-host of CNN's Crossfire programme declared to audience cheers on Thursday night: 'Let's beat up the French.' [...]