Thursday, September 4, 2008


Is Nicolas Sarkozy in the process of demonstrating a neo-Gaullist independence of Washington? His trip to Damascus, following up his invitation of Assad to Paris, is yet another step in this direction. Boz, at Sarkozy the American, cites an Israeli source suggesting a certain American consternation at the move. Now, while in Damascus, Sarko will meet with representatives of Turkey and Qatar as well as Syria.

Indeed, it was the talks with the Turks in which the Americans were to have participated but from which they have now withdrawn, allegedly because the French "pushed their way in." But there is perhaps more going on here than a mere stepping on diplomatic toes. The Turks are the largest foreign investors in Georgia and deeply interested in what goes on there, as Le Figaro notes in an editorial this morning. Turkey is the western terminus of the pipeline that connects Caspian oil and gas fields to European consumers. Now, as the U.S. continues to antagonize Russia by dispatching Dick Cheney to Georgia and infusing $1 billion in cash for the reconstruction of the Georgian military, Sarkozy has displaced the Americans in talks with the country that has the most to lose from a revival of cold war between Russia and the United States, a cold war that will undermine Turkish investments and threaten Turkey's role as a middleman in the flow of energy to Europe.

How interesting, then, that Sarkozy, who has not exactly been the most popular westerner in Istanbul, has gone to Damascus, which has not exactly been Washington's favorite Middle Eastern capital, to discuss matters of common interest, while Qatar, a hitherto docile player in a volatile region, joins talks from which America has decamped. One awaits further developments with heightened interest. Sarkozy's foreign policy may some day deserve the epithet "neo-Gaullist."

More links from Boz on this theme.


Anonymous said...

hmm maybe the influence of Tory friends has rubbed off on me, but I'm inclined to think that every Frenchman, woman and child is, au fond, Gaullist. Even Pierre Lellouche, even Giscard "Mr.Parti de l'étranger" D'Estaing, even Alain Madelin. Etc.
Its just a matter of degrees, imo. Some are more Gallican, err Gaullist (same thing no?) than others.
Contrary to a great number of Socialist bigwigs for whom a true foreign policy posture cannot but mean an antagonistic relationship with (any) American administration, Sarkozy is a Gaullist "sympa mais pas trop" vis-à-vis the US.

Chris P.

Anonymous said...

My own pipe-dream is that Sarkozy actually uses his EU presidency to put forward the idea of Russia being invited to join. And while he's at it, why not kick the US out of NATO before it gets the whole world blown up on account of an ego problem in Georgia.