Thursday, March 24, 2011

Times Editorial on France and Libya

The New York Times:

Now, Mr. Sarkozy needs to step back and let NATO take the lead. After a phone conversation with President Obama on Tuesday, he seems ready to do so, but the details need to be finalized quickly. French efforts to appear the leader and prime coordinator of that intervention have needlessly strained relations with other participating countries. This is a time for the military coalition to come together, not to splinter. It is irresponsible that the command sequence was not decided before the military operation was launched.
Mr. Sarkozy had his reasons for taking such an aggressive stance on Libya. His government had badly bungled the peaceful democratic revolution in Tunisia by clinging to that country’s brutal and venal dictator. He saw Libya as a chance to recoup French prestige in North Africa, a region France has long considered important to its economy and security. And he jumped at the chance to look like a world leader in the run-up to next year’s hotly contested presidential election.


Prasad said...

Germany took a very good decision.

Louis said...

I have to disagree with the NY Times (at my peril...).
To see Sarkozy's decision only as an attempt to "appear like a world leader" and position himself for next year's election would be to miss two points.

First of all, there has been a constant Sarkozian policy of trying to bring about a European capacity in defence and diplomatic matters. This is largely abstract, because the US, still, do the heavy lifting on the ground (Jean-Dominique Merchet's blog for Marianne will give you the details of what the French air forces have been doing in Libya. It is far from impressive...). But it is a part of Sarkozy's foreign policy.

And second, it would be incredibly ... let's say naive to think of foreign policy as a way Sarkozy could lift his reputation in domestic politics and prepare himself for 2012. Pierre Milza wrote that the french traditionnally vote like if they were alone in the world. It is still largely true.