Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sarko the Unamerican

John Vinocur of The New York Times sees tensions mounting between France and the US over Russia's desire to buy a French helicopter carrier to enhance its amphibious assault capability. With the US just having recalibrated its own policy, essentially removing Russia from the list of imminent threats to Europe, it should have no basis in principle for objecting to the deal. And yet, and yet ... old habits die hard, ruffled East European feathers need to be smoothed, and there is also the potential, as Vinocur notes, of European military sales to China, which Sarkozy strongly favors and the US military strongly opposes.

So, in the space of a few years, US-French relations have veered from execrable to euphoric (when Sarko was acclaimed as La Fayette reincarnate by the US Congress) to normal, which is to say, tense and at times testy. Normal, to my mind, is better than either execrable or euphoric, because realism is the only basis for a lasting relationship.

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