Conservative US leaders, fond of finger-pointing at France in recent years, lavished praise on Paris Sunday for blocking an agreement between Western powers and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program.
“Vive la France!” senator John McCain, an outspoken voice on national security issues, wrote on his Twitter account.
“France had the courage to prevent a bad nuclear agreement with Iran,” he said, after the weekend announcement that no agreement had been reached between the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany, known as the P5+1.
During three days of intense negotiations in Geneva, France repeatedly voiced concerns over various points in a possible deal and its lack of guarantees, a position that had Iran calling it a negotiations spoiled sport.
“Thank God for France and thank God for push back,” said hawkish Senator Lindsey Graham on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
“The French are becoming very good leaders in the Mid East,” Graham said, also suggesting he would be in favor of more sanctions against Iran.
“My fear is that we’re going to wind up creating a North Korea-type situation in the Mideast, where we negotiate with Iran and one day you wake up… and you’re going to have a nuclear Iran,” Graham said.
The turnabout could not be more stark.
It was just one decade ago Franco-US ties hit a low over differences on Iraq and then president Jacques Chirac’s opposition to the Anglo-US offensive against Saddam Hussein’s regime.
So deep was the animosity — led by conservatives for the most part — that French fries were renamed “freedom fries” in some American restaurants — including those serving the US House of Representatives office buildings.
Anti-French hate messages — no longer very much in evidence in the United States — also were brandished at the time in public, including on T-shirts and billboards.