Chirac’s foreign policy

At first glance, it is puzzling that Jacques Chirac, the major French conservative of our time, led the effort (and went to such an extreme) to oppose the American government’s decision to occupy Iraq.

But as the founder of the Rassemblement Pour la République, Chirac is, above all, a Gaullist, and his actions seem to have been intended to further the major goal of Gaullist foreign policy:

De Gaulle seems to be trying to evolve for France a very complex version of the balance of power policy […] France would like, in a series of concentric rings, first to attain ascendancy in Western Europe and then to make Western Europe the leader in a Continental bloc between Britain and Russia. Ultimately that bloc would be established as a major peacetime voice in global affairs.

— from “Foreign Affairs: de Gaulle — VI: Summary” by C. L. Sulzberger; New York Times; December 28, 1966; page 36.

In this light, the ties that Chirac built with Russia and Germany might seem to him to be more significant in the long run than the ties he frayed with the United States.

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