Thursday, February 5, 2009

Kouchner: It Wasn't Illegal

So Kouchner's defense appears to be that he never, as foreign minister, asked Omar Bongo to cough up the money he owed Kouchner's health advisory company--in other words, that he never mixed his private affairs with his public responsibilities.

It should be noted that his accuser, Pierre Pean, is all that one might want in an accuser: a partisan wingnut upset with Kouchner for everything from his glamorous lifestyle to his rapprochement with the Kagame government. And his book is a jumble of policy disputes tendered as character faults mixed with a whiff of anti-semitism that even those of us not particularly sensitive to the smell can detect. Pean's previous oeuvre argued that since Kagame's RPF shot down President Juvénal Habyarimana's plane, the event that triggered the 1994 genocide, that Kagame himself bears a large measure of responsibility for the genocide. (Most reasonable observers believe that it's possible that the RPF shot down the plane, but that the perpetrators, led by Colonel Théoneste Bagosora and his merry band of interahamwe, are of course primarily responsible for the killings.)

Pean may be a little deranged, but unfortunately for Kouchner, that doesn't bear on the truth of the one specific allegation that has brought the French political class to its feet, straining for a view of the crash: That Kouchner essentially traded on his connections and reputation to make cynical and highly remunerative deals with a couple of Africa's sleaziest dictators. He may not have been the enforcer in this little arrangement, but it sure looks like he was the barker. Nor has Kouchner specifically denied that allegation. Instead, he's attempted to reframe it as an honest effort to improve these countries' health care systems. Which may have been the story he told himself as he pocketed the money, but shouldn't pass anyone's smell test.

Here's the best account I've read so far.
And here's Kouchner defending himself.

No comments:

Post a Comment