Monday, February 21, 2011

Foreign Policy: FAIL!

The Execution by Firing Squad of The Failed Emperor Maximilian I
of Mexico in The Cerro de Campanas, 1867
Harpers Magazine Illustration
In case you hadn't been paying attention to other news in the Western Hemisphere lately, there is a serious diplomatic row going on between France and Mexico. The basic story is about a 36 year old French citizen, Florence Cassez who was convicted in a Mexican court for complicity in drug and arms trafficking, and kidnapping. She was involved with a member of the Mexican drug cartel, Zodiac. There is a lot of controversy as to her actual involvement in the crimes, but she was arrested as part of the gang and tried.
She received a sentence on multiple counts for approximately 80 years in a Mexican prison.
Do I believe that Florence, a very pretty woman who seems to have been a tragically drawn into a mess of her own making, is actually guilty? I could not say.
The sentence is beyond the scope any sentence that would have been handed down by a European Union Member Court and The mini-Hyper President of France who is failing miserably in all polls has made this one of his personal PR Missions. He claims that Florence should be at least transferred to a French prison and sentenced under French justice and that Mexico is bound by treaties to honor the Strasbourg accord. There is a lot that could have been done diplomatically, behind the scenes, that might have actually accomplished this, but in his quest to pump some stale air into his historically lousy ratings, he has created a personally managed debacle. 
He publicly demanded, emotionally on National Television with Florence's parents standing behind him that Mexico release Florence to France immediately. Florence and her lawyers were horrified at his attempt to intimidate the Mexican government which immediately derailed any behind the scenes negotiations and forced the Mexicans to harden their stance.
This year was to be a year of International Cultural Unity between Mexico and France. Millions of dollars had been spent in preparation and the entire schedule looks to be derailed and even more so, both countries are on the verge of breaking off relations.
The Hyper President has often been compared to Napoleon III, in his incompetent micromanaging style that is bluster and invariably produces dire results. He is supposed to be the President of the G-20 and no one is paying him any attention. The Frenchman who is getting the attention at the G-20 and here in France is Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the present and very successful president of the IMF. Strauss-Kahn is a Socialist, by the way and will most likely be the next president of France.
Why is the comparison to Napoleon III so damaging to Sarko? Why does Mexico resent the attempts of the French president to bully Mexican justice and humiliate them internationally?
Perhaps this is another example of not paying attention to history and not understanding the culture of the  people you are trying to deal with.

Maximilian of Austria was suspected of being the bastard son of Louis Napoleon and the Austrian Princess Sophie. During the American Civil War, Napoleon III  invaded Mexico to establish it as part of the French Empire.  He offered a crown with a group of Mexican Monarchists to Max who accepted it in 1864 and became Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico without realizing the tenuous ground he was treading on. He was deposed in 1867 and executed by a firing squad in Mexico City and Mexico has never forgotten.

1 comment:

mud_rake said...

There hasn't been a drop of ink in our papers about this. But then, is anyone surprised?