1989-2019: how the fall of the USSR upset the West


Posted today at 20:35

"What are you doing in Kansas City? ", ton Jacques Chirac on the phone. It is September 12th, 2001 and on his cell phone, François Bujon de l'Estang does not venture to tell the head of state that he is not even in Kansas City, but about ten kilometers from there in the parking lot of a shopping mall in Independence, Missouri, a city he can not help but recall as the place where President Harry Truman grew up. His wife has just parked their rental car and is preparing to buy a telephone cable to connect to the vehicle when Jacques Chirac calls.

No, that day, Francois Bujon de l'Estang, Ambassador of France in Washington, does not dwell on the details and keeps Harry Truman for him. Just explained to the President that he was the day before on a plane to Salt Lake City, for a meeting on the Olympic Winter Games, when the pilot announced that because of a "National emergency", the American airspace was closed and all planes ordered to land. It is only once on the ground that the diplomat learns of the attack on the World Trade Center and realizes that his plane took off from Dulles airport five minutes after the one that crashed on the Pentagon in Washington . More planes, no trains: he ends up finding a car to rent the next morning. The ambassador reassures the president, he is en route to reach dare dare the capital, 1 700 km away, his wife driving, him on the phone. "Ah, you're with Anne, very good"replied Chirac, reassured. The president and the ambassador will still have six telephone conversations during the trip.

Meanwhile, an extraordinary surge of sympathy and solidarity is spontaneously organized around the United States among their allies. France proposes to send specialized firefighters to help their colleagues in Manhattan, hard hit by the attacks. "We are all Americans", title The world, under the pen of its director, Jean-Marie Colombani. This title, in a French newspaper that has not always been tender with Uncle Sam, is noted as a sign of Western unanimity around the bruised superpower. Not only Western, by the way: President Vladimir Putin will also offer his help in the fight against terrorism, which he himself leads in Chechnya in his own way.


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