An American observer comments on French politics.
Interesting article. You got one small detail wrong though: during the Neuilly hostage crisis, Sarkozy talked the human bomber into releasing the majority of the children, but not into surrendering. He was eventually shot by the police. I wonder what Sarkozy thinks of De Gaulle, deep inside. It was Chirac, not Sarkozy, who put the final nail on the coffin of Gaullism. And I have the impression that Sarkozy's discourse is curiously devoid of references to the General (contrary to socialist leaders, and even Jean-Marie Le Pen in his late period).
My concern is the use of stale and tasteless stereotypes about the French being petty, fickle and obsessed with past glory. The article makes a mockery of the complex process of policy-making, and tries to use psychoanalytic blah blah, rather than conceptualizing policy choices as a rational process. I'm surprised there was nothing about Sarkozy being short too, it might have been a good way to draw a parallel with Napoleon.Youri Cormier, PhD student at KCLwebsite: http://styrofoamafterlife.wordpress.com
I wish M. Cormier good luck in his effort to inject "rational process" into political decision-making. He and other laureates will no doubt find their place, behind the scenes, offering choices and scenarios. But in this instance Sarko quite evidently turned for decisive advice not to some policy wonk (or to his foreign minister) but to BHL, the only man in France (in the world?) more attuned than himself to the sensitivities of the news cycle.
@Brent If true, Sarko should know better, Never trust a Leftist in a Puffy Shirt!
Re: de Gaulle He Ain't Your article is interesting & states your position on Libya well. As OP stated, the psycho-babble is best left aside when discussing policy & political figures. I do think you are blinded by your disdain of Nicolas Sarkozy, to the point of suffering from SDS. You might disagree with his policies or style, but NEUILLY/HUMAN BOMB story is an example of a man with nerves of steel and great personal courage, who literally risked his life to do his job. As an historian, your misinformation about Sarko's political & personal history is surprising. I was in Neuilly having lunch with my family the day the man calling himself "the human bomb" invaded a creche in Neuilly-sur-Seine where Sarko was the young Mayor. It is well known to almost everyone; the video, available on YouTube, was a part of campaign commercials in 2007. Sarko negotiated with the madman as he held the children and their teachers hostage for a day and a half, the man strapped up with suicide bomb belts the entire time. Sarko was able to negotiate the release of a few children and exited with a child in his arms. The creche was surrounded by frantic parents, police, CRS who dared not make a move. When the hostage taker fell asleep SWAT teams came in & shot him in the head. Sarko then had to deal with hisenemies calling for his removal for "executing" the potential murderer of innocent children.
I remember following anxiously the Neuilly kindergarten affair. That's when I first noticed the young mayor Sarkozy. He acted courageously, but only got Human Bomb to release one or two kids, and acted a bit too recklessly, to the extent that Pasqua managed to stop him from intervening in that terrifying affair. The real heroines, as remembered here, were the teacher, Laurence Dreyfus, and the doctor (really also a military officer), Evelyne Lambert. And even at the time, journalists were noticing how Sarko was carefully putting himself in front of the cameras. For instance, a policeman managed to get another kid released, Sarkozy pushed himself in front of the much relieved father, took the child in his arms, waited for the photographers to take his picture, and only then let the father hug his small son.PS: excellent article, Mr GoldhammerMélanie
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