The humiliating defeat of Jacques Chirac pleased a large number of Americans. William Kristol shouted «Long Live France!» and Radek Sikorski, of the American Enterprise Institute, said that the result was positive for transatlantic relations as it weakened the most anti-American of all European leaders. Official reactions were not so open but it is certain that some officials, at least in the Pentagon and in the office of the Vice President, smile at the state of confusion that prevails in France.
However, the Americans should hold back their applause before they regret it. They will regret it when they realize that 55% of the French people who rejected Chirac and the new Constitution did it for reasons completely opposite to those of the Americans who applauded. Instead of an improvement in the relations, the French “No” could mean a widening of the transatlantic gap. The main reason of the Americans’ recent anger towards Chirac - his opposition to the war of Iraq - has nothing to do with his defeat. On the contrary, the French think that the opposition of Jacques Chirac to George W. Bush is the last positive thing of their president. The nomination of Dominique de Villepin for the post of Prime Minister should dispel all hopes in Washington. It is true that leaders who oppose the war, like Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder, have seen their popularity fall, but the same has happened in the last 18 months to those who supported it, like José-María Aznar, Silvio Berlusconi and Tony Blair. We witnessed a renovation of relations between Washington and Paris after the enchanting offensive of the new Bush administration but the arrival of Dominique de Villepin in Matignon will put an end to it.
The message of the French has nothing to do with foreign policy, but with economy. And, contrary to what the Americans would wish, the French are not tired of excessive regulations, too high taxes and protectionism. If Villepin pays attention to the demands of the electorate, there will be more regulations. In addition, more bad news, this rejection of the Treaty will lead to a period of uncertainty in transatlantic relations. In the future, when the United States seeks the support of Europe in regards to international affairs, it will find the Europeans very busy, working for the institutional future of the Union. We should not disregard either the impact of the “No” on another of the Americans’ key objectives in Europe: the expansion of the EU and the inclusion of the US’s friends and allies in Eastern Europe, and eventually Turkey. The victory of the “No” is a huge setback for the Union’s prospect of extending prosperity and democratic stability to the East.
The Americans must admit that the rejection of the text is a failure for the United States.

Le Monde (France)

" Les néo-conservateurs américains auront des surprises ", by Philip Gordon, Le Monde, June 6, 2005.