Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sarkozy Woos Americans.

In the meantime, Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s leading presidential hopeful on the right, was touring the U.S. He said that "critical accounts of the United States in the French media often do not reflect the true feelings of the French people". He also said "the French love American food, its television programs and its movies. "Every French parent dreams of sending their child to an American university,".(Wash. Post)

However I may disagree with Sarkozy on many issues, he has a point here, when he blamed misperceptions about the United States on French "elites and journalists." In many ways, anti-Americanism is a game played mostly by the intellectuals and some of the elite.
It must also be noted that where you stand with regard to "America" often reflects your political views in France. In other words, the topic of "America" is a political one and so it is not surprising that Sarkozy should also use it.
His tough stance on many issues - from immigration to foreign policy - is a light version of what the Bush administration stands for. During the war between Israel and hezbollah last summer, Sarkozy has strongly expressed support for Israel, holding the Hezbollah guerrillas fully responsible for the war.
This may very well be PR for America and for the rest of the world. Strangely enough, his views in this matter have not made the headlines in France. In fact, there have been very few pictures of his meetings with President Bush (admitedly an exceptional event for a mere minister) and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Sarkozy gave an interview to
French daily Le Monde on this topic of his relationship to the U.S. [here in French or here in English (via SuperFrenchie)].

There too, he said a few things I must admit I wholeheartedly agree with (as expressed in this post):
The threat of a veto was useless, initially because there would never have been a majority on the Security Council in favor of war, and secondly because it led to a feeling of humiliation in the US.
The more general statement he made is also something anyone who likes the US will probably agree with:
I like the energy and the fluidity of America. The sentiment that everything is possible. This impression — perhaps artificial — that great stories are possible, that you can start at the bottom of the ladder and climb very high, or perhaps the opposite. The Enron affair is fascinating and it has a moral. The U.S. not only cultivates successes like Bill Gates, it also punishes mistakes.
One could argue that if Sarkozy became the president of France, Franco-American relationships would improve. I am not actually so sure. In any case, as appealing as the idea of better relationships between our two countries may be [it is after all the whole idea of this Blog], it is not enough for me to even consider voting for him. Unfortunately, there is a lot more I disagree with.


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