August 30, 2008


Makeover Model for McCain (David Ignatius, August 31, 2008, Washington Post)

Let's assume that John McCain is not crazy and that he wants to show America he will steer a different course in foreign policy than George Bush's while remaining faithful to his party's values and traditions. How does he do that? How can he present himself as both a change agent and a force of continuity? [...]

The real model for McCain is what Sarkozy did after he took office in May 2007. While asserting that he was maintaining the fundamentals of French policy, he changed many of the visible signs. Sarkozy stopped feuding with the United States, he moved to bring France back fully into the NATO alliance and he altered the pro-Arab tilt of French policy in the Middle East.

In making these changes, Sarkozy assaulted (ever so stealthily) the legacy of received wisdom about foreign policy known as "Gaullism." That approach tended to define French interests in reaction (and often, in opposition) to those of the United States. This arrogant style was costly, and Sarkozy decided to get rid of it. His France was going to be a team player again.

By changing the software, Sarkozy was able to mobilize French diplomacy for what has proved to be a remarkable turnaround over the past year.

Mr. Ignatius is normally a sensible, if overly orthodox, columnist but this makes so little sense that if you read it enough times your ears may start to bleed. The great change that Nicholas Sarkozy brought to France was to reorient it from continental Europe towards Anglo-America, to the point where he made it clear he wanted to replace Tony Blair as W's lapdog. Mind you, it's not just that Sarko decided that France should stand with the good guys on geopolitical matters, rather than play footsie with the evil regimes as is its historic wont, but he's also launched an assault on France's archetypal Second Way model.

Yet, Mr. Ignatius thinks that emulating Mr. Sarkozy will tend to distance Maverick from W? Whahappen?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 30, 2008 8:02 AM
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