If Nicolas Sarkozy’s attack on David Cameron sounded familiar (“You have lost a good opportunity to shut up.”) that’s because it was. Jacques Chirac, Sarkozy’s predecessor as French president, used exactly the same form of words in 2003 to berate eastern Europen countries over their support for the Iraq war.
After 13 countries including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic signed a letter supporting the US position, Chirac thundered:
They missed a great opportunity to shut up.
It’s a memorable line, so one can’t blame Sarko for stealing it. But it again undermines the idea that he represents a “rupture” with the past.