Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nicolas Bonaparte, the New King George!

You had King George of the United-States, and now, you have Nicolas Bonaparte. That's at least according to this week's issue of French magazine Le Point.
Of course, any historical comparison of our current leaders to kinds or emperors if scary is meant to be satirical yet there are reasons why such analogies come to mind: both George W and Sarkozy have done everything they could (and sometimes more) to reinforce their executive prerogatives.
Much has been said about Bush's (and Cheney's) but you may not be so familiar with Sarkozy's attempt at making the executive more powerful. The latest example in France is the reform of the legal system which would make judges under the control of the administration (and the government).
In both the United-States and France, the idea is to eliminate anything that stands in the way of urgency and efficiency, it be in the name of national security or in the name of much needed reforms. Interestingly both men are impatient and have autocratic temperaments.
Those "osbtacles" however are the basis of a good democratic system of check and balances. And as Arthur Goldhammer said it :
An obstacle removed today in the name of efficiency is a potential point of resistance absent tomorrow when it may be needed. This is not an argument for government by quagmire, in which the headlong rush to disaster is prevented by ensuring that every attempt to move forward ends up to its axles in the muck of soggy opposition. It is, however, a brief on behalf of dialogue. When obstacles are eliminated and carefully prepared reforms rush ahead to conclusion, there is little opportunity to take account of the voices of those affected, whose resistance to change, while sometimes narrowly self-interested, may at other times afford an opportunity to impart useful information to would-be reformers, without which their project, however efficiently executed, is doomed.
In the meantime, the (very British) Independent found other (sometimes irrelevant but funny) reasons to compare Sarkozy to Napoleon
  • Both men are known for their short stature. Nicolas Sarkozy is 5ft 5in and Napoleon Bonaparte was one inch taller (actually above average height for the early 19th century).
  • Both men had foreign ancestry: M. Sarkozy is half-Hungarian; Napoleon came from an Italian-Corsican family.
  • Both men had beautiful wives who were taller than they were.
  • They both set out to reform the judicial system. The Emperor's "Code Napoleon" remains the basis of much of French law to this day. M. Sarkozy has made some piecemeal changes – imposing rigid, minimum sentences for violent crimes and life terms on some sex offenders.
  • Both men set out to change the way that France thinks about itself.
  • Both liked to be regarded as peacemakers. Napoleon's idea of making peace was to make war. M. Sarkozy intervened successfully in the Russia-Georgia conflict in the summer, less successfully in the Israeli assault on Gaza this week.
I would bet that Sarkozy relishes this. One of Sarkozy's cabinet-member-slash-groopies - the Secretary of state for Family Nadine Morano agrees a 100% :
"Who can hold a candle to him? Until now, nobody. For me, there is Napoleon, De Gaulle and Sarkozy. Whoever is in between is peanuts.". (Le Parisien)
But this of course says a lot more about Nadine Morano than about Sarkozy!

NOTE: For more comparison between Sarko and Napoleon, you can always read this.

1 Comments:

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