The Financial Times's "Observer" commented Friday on the fact that Colin Powell is scheduled to receive a French literary award Thursday at the home of the author of La Démocratie en Amérique.[1]  --  "Most French people seem quickly to have forgotten Mr. Powell's famous speech at the U.N. in the build-up to the war, when he claimed Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons and was seeking nuclear capability.  'He was just a soldier following orders' seems to be how this is remembered by most of France.  As Alexis de Tocqueville himself argued:  'I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.'" ...

1.

Comment & analysis

Observer

FRANCE HONORS ITS AMERICAN WAR HERO

Financial Times (UK)
November 24, 2006

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/1ede7e98-7b61-11db-bf9b-0000779e2340.html

There is likely to be an ambience of schadenfreude at the château de Tocqueville in northern France next week, when Colin Powell is awarded a prestigious French literary award in honor of his life's work.

The former U.S. secretary of state has always had a special place in French people's hearts as one of their few allies across the Atlantic when they struggled to stop George W. Bush, U.S. president, from embarking on a war in Iraq.

"I told you so" is likely to be a common refrain about the situation in Iraq, as Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, former French president, awards Mr. Powell with the prix de Tocqueville next Thursday at the French historian's former family residence.

Mr. Powell is popular in France, not least for inventing the Pottery Barn rule by warning Bush that if he invaded Iraq it could have a huge cost, mistakenly comparing the invasion to a "you break it, you own it" rule at the U.S. home furnishing retailer.

Most French people seem quickly to have forgotten Mr. Powell's famous speech at the U.N. in the build-up to the war, when he claimed Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons and was seeking nuclear capability.

"He was just a soldier following orders" seems to be how this is remembered by most of France. As Alexis de Tocqueville himself argued: "I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America."