Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Merkel Skeptical about Mediterranean Union

Angela Merkel is worried that Sarkozy's plan to construct a Mediterranean Union on the basis of what he called "the Franco-Algerian friendship," analogous to the "Franco-German friendship" on which the EU was constructed, will lead to separate spheres of influence, with Germany looking to the east and France to the south. This could become a source of conflict in the future, which she believes would best be avoided by taking another approach.

Sarko Disappoints Glucksmann

It was the congratulatory phone call to Putin that did it for the Nouveau Philosophe, beacon of the anti-totalitarian, pro-Sarkozyan mi-figue mi-raisin left.

L'Étranger

It has to be seen to be believed. The clip is here. Sarkozy stands gazing pensively at the coruscating azure of the Mediterranean as a passage from Camus's Les Noces is read to him. Camus, who would have been a most unwilling conscript in this sham, you can be sure, is extolled by the president as the most French of Algerians or the most Algerian of the French, it hardly matters which. The subtext of the preferred presidential symbolism is reinforced: we are two peoples, all but identical, who share a painful past, which we readily acknowledge, while resolutely setting our sights on a better future. I have nothing against this chronological tropism, which is proper to a politician, for whom tomorrow should eclipse yesterday, unlike the writer, for whom the remembrance of things past may well loom larger than the present. L'écriture, c'est la trace. But there is something particularly unseemly about this violation of Camus, the purist of stylists, who suffered so much in his lifetime for his dual allegiance. Indeed, his situation was precisely the opposite of the role in which Sarko would cast him: he was not Algerian enough for the Algerians yet too Algerian for the French, particularly his comrades on the left, who never forgave him for placing his mother before History.

I wish I had not seen Sarkozy in Tipaza. It would have been easier to tolerate his readiness to deplore colonialism without apologizing for it had I not seen his desecration of Camus, whose writings on postwar famine and brutality in the colony might have served to show the president why an apology might be expected. You can read Camus's text in my translation.