A Letter to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs from the President of France:
To Dominique de Villepin
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
You have been like a son to me, but sometimes even the most gifted of children go beyond the bounds of Cartesian rationality, not to speak of Anglo-Saxon common sense. My telephone now rings constantly. The complaints of hotel keepers, owners of vineyards and producers of luxury goods have one uniform outcry: “Where are les Americains?” They all give me the same message: “Jacques, we love you, but we all know that in these times, even for the best of Gaullists, les affaires must come first.” The president of Madame Coco’s once thriving enterprise has gone so far as to say, “If things don’t change, they’ll be calling us Chunnel because the business has gone underground.”
And unfortunately, they continue by talking about you. “Just as we love you, Jacques, we love your pimpant foreign minister, even if his shoes and his valise always seem to have an Italian griffe. It’s fine to let him talk and say the things he loves to say for the glory of France, but really Jacques, does it make any sense to let him say it in front of our best clients? We were wonderfully pleased to see that he has been spending time in Damascus and Cairo. After all, it isn’t fashionable now to send them arms. But we can certainly send them the glory of France. And perhaps most importantly, our most important clients, les Americains will not be visiting there these days.”
Mon Dieu, Dominique, you can see mon probleme. But I have la solution. You won’t be happy with it, but it will have some advantages that I will mention. I am asking for your resignation as Foreign Minister, but appointing you as my personal envoy to the Middle East. As you and I both know, and the poor Americains do not, Damascus and Baghdad were the great centers of learning in the 9th century, three hundred years before Paris became the new center of philosophy and theology and the shores of America were occupied by le peau-rouge. Who but you could expound with equal facility politics and poetry? Who knows, you may soon be carrying in your valise your own translation of The Rubiyat of Omar Khayyam, or, to maintain the Cartesian image, your commentary on the mathematical philosophy of Ibrahim ibn Sinan.
Please call as soon as you reach Damascus. I eagerly await news of the young king.
I’ll miss you more than you know, but as always and forever, Viva la France!