Friday, April 08, 2005

Sign of the Times 

Many of the world's leaders gathered today in Rome to pay respects to a fellow head of state, Pope John Paul II. As is traditional, differences and tensions are put aside, as can be seen in this post funeral AP photo of French President Jacques Chirac kissing the hand of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Also shown in the photo are US President George Bush, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Phillipines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Spain's King Juan Carlos.

The United States and France have been attempting to repair the damage inflicted on their relationship during the lead up to the war in Iraq and France's opposition to the US invasion. This opposition by France was played up by the Bush administration as a personal slight against all Americans, a perception which was heartily joined in by many and in many forms, such as the cafeteria in the Capitol Building renaming french fries to "Freedom Fries," and the appearance of such global harmony inducing bumper stickers as "Pave France. We need parking for our SUVs."

The UN is a favorite target of self-proclaimed US patriots who apparently like to proclaim their conviction that seeking to resolve international crises through UN based negotiation and unity is akin to waiving American sovereignty.

The Vatican has been highly critical of Spain's recent steps toward secularizing their government and legalizing same sex marriage. Chances are Pres. Bush doesn't look fondly on the latter either, although I've not seen any official comment in the press.

A more detailed article on other leaders sitting near one another despite current international disputes can be found here. One unfortunate note is that China refused to send a delegation, in protest of the Vatican having diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which China views as being part of its own territory, not an independent nation.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:28 AM