The French Connection
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 02:30pm 1 Comment
Kathleen McCaffrey —
Anne Applebaum, one of my favorite writers, posted a really fascinating article in Slate last night. Applebaum explores the motives of Sarkozy’s Libya campaign:
The man who introduced Sarkozy to the Benghazi rebels is none other than Bernard-Henri Lévy, a pop philosopher so French that I can’t think of an American equivalent. We just don’t have philosophers who wear their shirts unbuttoned, marry blond actresses, and take sides, enthusiastically, in wars in Bangladesh, Angola, Rwanda, Bosnia, and beyond. By siding with Lévy’s emotional plea for humanitarian intervention—a decision that surprised even his own foreign minister—Sarkozy apparently thinks he might share some of the philosopher’s glamour.Sarkozy clearly hopes the Libyan adventure will make him popular, too. Nobody finds this surprising. At a conference in Brussels over the weekend, I watched a French participant boast of France’s leading role in the Libyan air campaign. A minute later, he heartily agreed that the war was a ploy to help Sarkozy get re-elected. The two emotions—pride in French leadership and cynicism about Sarkozy’s real motives—were not, it seems, mutually exclusive.… had Sarkozy’s primary aim been to expose the weakness and incoherence of European foreign policy, he could not have done so any more effectively… The Libyan affair “demonstrates the immaturity of European security and defense policy, the poverty of the political debate, and the inadequacy of personnel.” No one thinks Europe is going to emerge from this affair any stronger, either, even if the French president does.
Nothing frustrates me more than people who assume that Sarkozy is like a French George Bush. If he were an American politician, he’d be clumped on the left. Don’t get too excited, the only politician worth rooting for in the continent is Daniel Hannan and Applebaum’s piece is a good reminder why.
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There were no clear, apparent reasons for Sarkozy pushing to interfer in what was in the early stages of a civil war. Quite the contrary, there was NO mass slaughter (although Obama said we have avoided a genocide, much like his jobs "saved" mentality).
If Sarkozy is using this to pump up his popularity, he is really betting on a long shot. The French have long ceased showing the back bone for war. And Gdaffy is going no where without ground troops. Is Sarkozy willing to put French troops in Libya only to send them back to Paris in body bags?
There are no good guys in the Libyan strife. It seems Sarkozy are betting that the side he has chosen is the least radical. He may well be wrong.