Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Priorities

Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to Tunisia has made his foreign policy priorities perfectly clear. He took with him 100 CEOs, the head of the MEDEF, and Rama Yade. Contracts were signed, the CEOs were praised for their "convictions," and Rama Yade canceled a scheduled meeting with the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women on the grounds of a "schedule conflict." This was after she was reprimanded by Sarkozy for refusing to shake the hand of her Tunisian counterpart. Having said that she would not go to Tunisia as mere ornament but would engage the repressive Ben Ali regime on the human rights issues that are her mandate, she acquiesced in the ornamental role after being told by Sarkozy, "Soit t'es d'accord avec moi, soit t'es pas en désaccord." C'est clair. (An apology for the cancellation came later from Yade's office but not from the secretary herself.) As for the president, he magnanimously invoked the horrors of Europe's past to justify his refusal to "teach lessons" to Tunisia. Strangely, he forgot the lesson he tried to teach last week about the failure of too many Europeans to concern themselves with human rights in Afghanistan. Apparently the horrors of Europe's past loom larger in some locales than others. If hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, Sarko seems bent on laying a king's ransom at virtue's door. In return, he expects the CEOs who accompany him on his travels to be rewarded handsomely.

I hope that Rama Yade draws the appropriate conclusion and resigns. Bernard Kouchner too.

ADDENDUM: Compounding the offense, Sarkozy evoked the need to combine French "intelligence" and "training" with Tunisian "labor."

7 comments:

Christine said...

He also said he whished the people of the Mediterranean were as "courageous and imaginative" as the people of Continental Europe.
Whatever.

Christine said...

wished, sorry

Arthur Goldhammer said...

I like "whished": it combines whim and wish in a way that captures Sarkozy's erratic voluntarism/willfulness quite nicely.

Anonymous said...

I heard the "we've got intelligence and training, you've got workers" this morning on the radio....
But no comments on the context and the reactions. Were also circulated this quote by Sarkozy to Yade "Either you agree with me, or you don't disagree with me, is that clear?"
(had to read that twice to get the meaning...)
No doubt that the Tunisian trip will not stop the downward spiral..
http://www.lemonde.fr/web/depeches/0,14-0,39-35277416@7-37,0.html

Alain Q. said...

I sometimes wonder why all the advocates of Droits de l'Homme first, whatever the cost,have such a poor memory..

Rememenber the Shah of Iran ? according to the self-appointed judges of Democracy, he was an autocrat and megaloman and had to be removed.
He was in due time and we got Khomenei...

Remember General Long Nol of Cambodia ? he was called a corrupted American puppet, and probably was one. He was removed under loud applause of Droits-de-l'hommistes all over, and happily succeeded by..the Khmer Rouges.

Do I need to say : Remember Saddam Hussein ?

Has democracy progressed in any of these instances ?

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Alain Q.,
Your observations, while not without merit, ignore the point I was trying to make. I don't believe that foreign policy should be without realism, and a maximalist human rights agenda may not be realistic. But to make a point of including the secretary for human rights in the delegation and then to forbid her to meet with a group she had agreed to meet with is to carry realpolitik to a cynical extreme. It is to humiliate the secretary in question and demonstrate to the world that her position is mere windowdressing and eyewash. As he often does, Sarkozy created a polarity where there need not be one: if he did not want to pose as a teacher of lessons to others, he still did not need to give his benediction to brutality. He could have passed over the regimes crimes in silence, as he did in Libya, and still made his deals. Instead he went out of his way to offer praise? Why? Is Ben Ali's way of confronting Islamism so exemplary? Even if one is willing to countenance repression as a necessary evil, that it is an evil should not be forgotten.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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