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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Tuesday May 15 2007

One of my favourite hobby-horse type ideas is that, for all their profound annoyingness and all round Frenchness, the French are one important group of people, and when they change their minds about something important, that’s important.  (In the nineteen seventies, for instance, they changed their minds about the USSR.  They decided it was an abomination.) It comes down to the fact that they are so very eloquent, and so very good at persuading Americans in particular of ... things.  Look at how a great gaggle of worthless French academics, with nothing to say but with their oh-so-Franch way of saying it, have for decades dominated US academe.  How did these charlatans manage this?  Gift of the gab, basically.

So, I also reckon this French volte face to be extremely important:

In the hard-fought French presidential election campaign, the most important and controversial international issue has been France’s Middle East policy. And depending on the results, the election may mark the first major change on that issue for three decades.

There is good cause for a paradigm shift in French foreign policy as the decades old policy continuum towards the Middle East has undermined the national security interests of France. This doctrine’s underpinnings attempted to undermine US primacy in international affairs, as it considered that parity and equilibrium were more apt in cultivating stability in the international order. This approach failed to placate authoritarians and rogue regimes, and France was continually sidelined in the aftermath of these policy implementations.

Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal, the candidates of the centre-right and Socialists respectively, won the first round of the presidential election on April 22. They both have promised major shifts in France’s stance on the Iranian, Lebanese, and Israeli-Palestinian issues if they are elected on May 6.

The model they are reacting against is that of current President Jacques Chirac, who for 12 years – following in the footsteps of predecessors back to Charles de Gaulle – has allied with the perceived underdogs to US imperialism. Thus France was eager to rally to the support of human rights abusers including Arab dictators such as Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein. By making France the Arabs’ favorite Western state, Chirac and other Gaullists have tried to create an alignment to counter the unquestionable - and in France, much-despised - primacy of the United States.

Written before Sarkozy won, obviously, but all the more interesting because Ségolène Royal was part of this, and therefore won’t oppose it when Sarko starts doing it.

Even if you deeply regret this switch, regarding it as one from sanity to madness, you might still agree with me that it is trés important.