The Merimee Affair

Reader Elle writes from France that I was wrong to report that the French media have not been covering Paris's relationship to Saddam Hussein. She's right, at least when it comes to the Oil-for-Food scandal.

Le Monde published two revealing stories last week on "L'Affair Merimee," in which two retired French diplomats have been indicted for "corrupt links" with the Iraqi regime in the late 1990s. The French Foreign Ministry does not plan an investigation, according to Le Monde, and denies any connections between the former diplomats' actions and French opposition to the Iraq war.

By Jefferson Morley |  October 19, 2005; 3:24 PM ET  | Category:  Europe
Previous: Antiwar Europe Worries About Saddam Hussein Trial | Next: The Quiet Arab Media

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They don't have to investigate him by law?? That's so ridiculous.

Posted by: Sugarplum | October 19, 2005 04:46 PM

Except fot the U.S., opposition to the Iraq War was almost universal. Relating it to the Oil for Food scandal is ridiculous. American oil companies were involved too.I don't like France's "Free Trade" policies, and I think the EU is a failure, but neither France or Britain were required by friendship to jump off a cliff with regard to the Iraq War.

Posted by: P. J. Casey | October 19, 2005 07:44 PM

The problem is that opposition to the war - in France in any case - was supposed to be because they were taking the high moral ground. If in fact the French government was against the war because they were making lots of money in Iraq, their former stance is worse than hypocritical. It was economically better for France to oppose the war - as it was for Russia. The "Peace Camp", as it was called in France, was perhaps not against war for humanitarian purposes at all.

Posted by: AK Denis | October 20, 2005 02:37 PM

Response to SugarPlum :

Reading this blog is not like reading the news. The stories in Le Monde (and every other French newspaper I could find online) make it clear that the French judiciary is conducting the investigation and is verging on arrests of high ranking former diplomats. If there is no investigation by the Foreign Ministry it may simply be because they are not the judiciary.

Still, although I Googled and search the papers directly I could find no commentary in the French press, nothing approaching and editorial or an Op-Ed, in which this issue was debated. I take this as indirect evidence that the French public (or their press) would be just as happy not to know.

Posted by: John Carragee | October 20, 2005 03:45 PM


I made one last search and found a column in the French newspaper Liberation (formerly the paper of the Communist Party) that treats the Merimee / Boidevaix investigation not as a dry news item but as a scandal of the first order. The two are depicted as a stain on the Foreign Ministry, unworthy of their honorific as "ambassador of France."

I did not find an article in Le Monde that I would consider "revealing" except by omission. First, an article appeared describing how conservatives in the U.S. were reacting to the investigation; and then a second article noting, almost without comment, that the Quay D'Orsay, the Foreing Ministry, had attempted to distance themselves from the scandal by pointing out that the criminal events had taken place after the two had left the Ministry.

Posted by: John Carragee | October 20, 2005 04:18 PM


I made one last search and found a column in the French newspaper Liberation (formerly the paper of the Communist Party) that treats the Merimee / Boidevaix investigation not as a dry news item but as a scandal of the first order. The two are depicted as a stain on the Foreign Ministry, unworthy of their honorific as "ambassador of France."

I did not find an article in Le Monde that I would consider "revealing" except by omission. First, an article appeared describing how conservatives in the U.S. were reacting to the investigation; and then a second article noting, almost without comment, that the Quay D'Orsay, the Foreing Ministry, had attempted to distance themselves from the scandal by pointing out that the criminal events had taken place after the two had left the Ministry.

Posted by: John Carragee | October 20, 2005 04:20 PM


I made one last search and found a column in the French newspaper Liberation (formerly the paper of the Communist Party) that treats the Merimee / Boidevaix investigation not as a dry news item but as a scandal of the first order. The two are depicted as a stain on the Foreign Ministry, unworthy of their honorific as "ambassador of France."

I did not find an article in Le Monde that I would consider "revealing" except by omission. First, an article appeared describing how conservatives in the U.S. were reacting to the investigation; and then a second article noting, almost without comment, that the Quay D'Orsay, the Foreing Ministry, had attempted to distance themselves from the scandal by pointing out that the criminal events had taken place after the two had left the Ministry.

Posted by: John Carragee | October 20, 2005 09:47 PM


I made one last search and found a column in the French newspaper Liberation (formerly the paper of the Communist Party) that treats the Merimee / Boidevaix investigation not as a dry news item but as a scandal of the first order. The two are depicted as a stain on the Foreign Ministry, unworthy of their honorific as "ambassador of France."

I did not find an article in Le Monde that I would consider "revealing" except by omission. First, an article appeared describing how conservatives in the U.S. were reacting to the investigation; and then a second article noting, almost without comment, that the Quay D'Orsay, the Foreing Ministry, had attempted to distance themselves from the scandal by pointing out that the criminal events had taken place after the two had left the Ministry.

Posted by: John Carragee | October 20, 2005 09:48 PM


I made one last search and found a column in the French newspaper Liberation (formerly the paper of the Communist Party) that treats the Merimee / Boidevaix investigation not as a dry news item but as a scandal of the first order. The two are depicted as a stain on the Foreign Ministry, unworthy of their honorific as "ambassador of France."

I did not find an article in Le Monde that I would consider "revealing" except by omission. First, an article appeared describing how conservatives in the U.S. were reacting to the investigation; and then a second article noting, almost without comment, that the Quay D'Orsay, the Foreing Ministry, had attempted to distance themselves from the scandal by pointing out that the criminal events had taken place after the two had left the Ministry.

Posted by: John Carragee | October 20, 2005 09:48 PM

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