Jacques Chirac’s Iraq War Opposition

Jacques Chirac famously pushed back against the United States over the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The former French president died on Thursday at 86. This is how he explained his position on the war on French television.

Flamboyant French president dies at 86

The world paid tribute to former French President Jacques Chirac after his death was announced on Thursday at the age of 86. Chirac served as president for 12 years (1995-2007), was two times prime minister, and three times elected mayor of Paris. His two mandates will be remembered by his firm stance against Bush's Iraq war, the end of conscription, the recognition of France's responsibility for Nazi crimes, the transition to the five-year term, and his famous quote "our house is burning" in relation to climate change.

His political mentor President Georges Pompidou made him Minister of Agriculture in 1972, after handling of several other briefs. He was then appointed Minister of the Interior in February 1974. After Pompidou's sudden death on 2 April 1974, his successor Valery Giscard d'Estaing entrusted Chirac with the office of Prime Minister in May 1974. Two years later, he resigned, over a disagreement with the president over his authority, and developed his political base among France's various conservative parties. After his departure from the cabinet, Chirac was voted Mayor of Paris in 1977. His 18 uninterrupted years in that position prepared him to run for president.

When finally elected to the presidency in 1995, Chirac vowed to reduce the gap between rich and poor. In 1997 he dissolved parliament, aiming to consolidate the conservatives' hold on the country, but the socialists triumphed in elections instead, and Chirac was forced to share power with Lionel Jospin who was elected prime minister for five years. Chirac was re-elected in 2002 after Jospin failed to do well enough, which led voters to choose between either Chirac or the far-right candidate Jean-Marie le Pen in the second round. In the first round, Chirac's unpopularity stood out, but he managed to defeat Le Pen. He later gained in the popularity polls due to his strong opposition to George W. Bush's push for war against Iraq.