On France2 last night, Dominique de Villepin, fresh from his retrouvailles with l'ami Nicolas, looking ebullient and full of vigor, declared forthrightly that France had no difficulty deciding what to do in regard to the Libyan uprising because "we have values" and the attempt to overthrow the dictatorial and mercurial rule of Col. Kadhafi (Gaddafi, Qadaffi, etc.) was a golden opportunity to demonstrate them. In assessing those values, he might want to take a look at this remarkable retrospective of French-Libyan relations in the Khadafi era. France does indeed have values, and when Khadafi was une valeur sûre, it invested heavily in him, but now that his value is plummeting, it's dumping its portfolio as quickly as it can.
Of course it's a cheap shot to pick on France and DDV this way. Who isn't compromised by life in this vale of tears? When I start up my car this morning, I'll be paying tribute to the Saudi king and the Gulf emirs and "the butcher of Benghazi" myself, so it ill becomes me to mock the leaders who grease the skids to perdition. Still, to watch Villepin with his broad smile and breathless delivery congratulate himself for having always been an apostle of Arab liberation is a bit much. In such circumstances, a little circumspection, a little humility, a little shame at the hypocrisies and compromises to which we are condemned seems called for. To me, anyway. Secular though I am to the core, the doctrine of original sin speaks, to my mind, to something deep in the human predicament.