Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Unless I missed it, French bombers have yet to take off for Libya, despite President Sarkozy's announcement, and Bernard-Henri Lévy has not yet stormed Tripoli with his breast bared. Meanwhile, Kadhafi's forces seem set to retake Benghazi and end the abortive revolution. This is a pity, even a tragedy, and for reasons having nothing to do with Sarkozy's misstep. But this episode in a way encapsulates the entire Sarkozy presidency. He correctly identified a real problem and a real opportunity. He precipitously proposed an ill-thought-out solution without enlisting the support he would have needed to follow through. He alienated key allies, such as Juppé and Merkel. He milked the announcement for a couple of days in the limelight. And then he moved on to other things. He is a president with an attention span that is as short as a three-year-old child's--sometimes shorter.

For a very thoughtful reflection on Libya in a much broader context, read Judah Grunstein.

ADDENDUM: Le Monde today calls for a no-fly zone, which in the present state of fighting would certainly accomplish nothing:

Nicolas Sarkozy a raison. Il faut un geste militaire pour aider les rebelles à sanctuariser Benghazi. Ce peut être une zone d'exclusion aérienne au-dessus de la ville. Américains et Européens en ont les moyens, largement. Il est temps de les mettre en œuvre.
Kadhafi has managed to move armor and artillery across the desert and has used his firepower effectively to drive the rebels out of their strongholds. His air force has played only a small role. Le Monde's intentions may be good, but its proposal is no more serious than Sarkozy's.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Has he moved on? I'm no fan of Sarkozy but his government and the British still seem to be pushing the idea, at least according to what I read through Google News. And wouldn't it be worthwhile, if only as a gesture? I'm loathe to say 'yes', but a part of me thinks 'maybe'.

In spite of my own uncertainty and my dislike of him,I still prefer his response to Merkel's now-habitual dithering and mithering.

~ Squiggle