Sarkozy is no American lapdog. Like every Fifth Republic president, he begins with the notion of French exceptionalism. But whereas traditional Gaullism tended to define French grandeur as establishing a counterweight to American power, Sarkozy is not adverse to seeing French assertiveness exercised in conjunction with the United States. As Kouchner put it, "permanent anti-Americanism" is "a tradition we are working to overcome."
This French about-face creates a crucial shift in the balance of forces within Europe. The East Europeans are naturally pro-American for reasons of history (fresh memories of America's role in defeating their Soviet occupiers) and geography (physical proximity to a newly revived and aggressive Russia). Western Europe is intrinsically wary of American power and culturally anti-American by reflex. France's change from Chirac to Sarkozy, from Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin (who actively lobbied Third World countries to oppose America on Iraq) to Kouchner (who supported the U.S. invasion on humanitarian grounds) represents an enormous shift in Old Europe's relationship to the U.S.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Krauthammer on France: