I am not a French hater – and there is no “but” to that clause. The Wall Street Journal, however, frequently engages in French bashing. The WSJ has also, unintentionally and unknowingly, suggested that the French may act in a manner that would provide a new humorous answer to the old joke that begins: “What is chutzpah?” The context is that the U.S. and New York state authorities are negotiating with BNP Paribas (a very large French bank) to settle a series of felonies involving primarily sanction-busting – and covering up those crimes.
A political movement has arisen in France opposing any U.S. criminal actions against Paribas. Americans will have no difficulty understanding this political dynamic, particularly because our Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to give a total pass to the U.S. officers who led the accounting control frauds that drove the crisis and prosecutes only foreign financial operations. What is remarkable is the WSJ’s suggestion of how the French Prime Minister Hollande might bring French objections personally to the attention of President Obama.