Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Marine Le Pen doesn't like UMPS. No, the leader of the Front National has not taken up the American national pastime. UMPS is rather her pseudo-clever amalgame of the sigles of France's two other major parties, the UMP and the PS. Since Le Pen's fonds de commerce is the contention that there is no real difference between the two "legitimate" contenders for the presidency, the only genuine alternative is--herself. The UMP's sotto voce justification for its reluctance--to put it kindly--to endorse a "republican front" in the second round of the cantonals is that to do so would only reinforce the FN's charge that its opponents are simply the Janus bifrons of une pensée unique.

Alas, all too many voters seem to be buying this argument. Last night's France2 news showed a driver accosted by an FN candidate who announced that he was only too glad to vote for the extreme right because "il faut que ça change." After four years of Sarkozy, nearly a quarter of the French seem ready to vote for change whether they can believe in it or not. Indeed, they seem to have stopped asking themselves the question whether or not the proposed change is believable. When that happens, the doors are open to all sorts of political mischief.

Foreign Policy article

My article on France and Libya at Foreign Policy. Not my title, though!


For early birds in the US, I will be on NPR discussing France and Libya at 6:35 AM.

You didn't miss anything. Instead of asking me about French domestic politics and its relation to the operation, as planned, they asked me to comment on differences among the allies, not my subject. You never know with these interviews.