Thursday, April 3, 2008


Justin Vaïsse, in an excellent article with which I agree 100 percent, fleshes out the position I adumbrated the other day: Sarkozy as the executor of a Gaullist foreign policy in exemplary continuity with the main line of French foreign policy over the past 40 years. Justin brilliantly picks apart the differences between words and deeds, rhetoric and policy. He also puts his finger on what is so irritating about the current debate over French troops in Afghanistan: the fact that opponents allow their analysis to be shaped by Washington--whatever Washington favors, we oppose--while claiming independence of Washington as their primary goal. Highly recommended.

And by the way, the ongoing dialogue between Pierre Haski and Justin Vaïsse on Rue89 provides the best journalistic insight into French foreign policy available anywhere. Rue89 in general has become an indispensable source of news, easily the equal of the best in French print journalism. To be sure, this standard leaves plenty of room for improvement--but if perfection were achieved, life would cease to be interesting.


Anonymous said...

Excellent article by Vaisse. Strange spelling of "attentisme," however, and as usual I'm left wondering about how the word "volontariste" is used in current political discourse. It seems to mean something like "aggressive" or "determined," but has a (completely misleading, so far as I can see) philosophical ring to it.

Anonymous said...

I've never really understood what was meant by Gaullist. In English-speaking circles it has taken on a bit of a cartoon character.

I'm wondering how NATO's response to the last Iraq war may have influenced French thinking. Post-1989 American influence in NATO is not monolithic. Germany, Turkey (and France), among others, were able to block NATO major involvement in the Irak invasion without suffering severe consequences. The current discussions of Ukraine and Georgia, as well as the laughable Greek blocking of Macedonia's application, also support the idea that France would not be sacrificing its independence by becoming fully-integrated in NATO. Such a big group. So little to do. So many ways to avoid doing it.