Friday, 29 August 2008

Sarkozy having a bad war

All government buildings in Paris are currently decorated with the EU flag, as is even the Arc de Triomphe itself. (When a group of four Eurosceptics spontaneously protested against the hoisting of this flag at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier – the focal point of the Bastille Day celebrations on 14 July – they were arrested.) The presence of the flags is supposed to emphasise France’s role as president of the EU, a role Nicolas Sarkozy also emphasised when he appointed himself mediator in the Russian-Georgian conflict. But his foreign policy initiatives have not brought him any political benefit. On the contrary, the death of ten French soldiers in Afghanistan, killed in a Taliban ambush, has brought heavy criticism on Sarkozy’s foreign policy by his political opponents. They have attacked Sarkozy for his “Atlantic obsessions”. For instance, the leader of the Socialist Party, François Hollande, reminded the President that he had always warned against France sending troops to Afghanistan because of the danger that the war would escalate there. Hollande called for a parliamentary debate on the purposes and goals of France’s participation in the NATO force in Afghanistan. He said, “Our soldiers should not let themselves be killed for Uncle Sam.” The government has tried to deflect the criticism, saying that it is fighting the war on terror. Le Figaro, which often acts like a government mouthpiece, proclaimed on its front page that France was “defending the freedom of the world”. Less favourable papers (Le Parisien for example) have asked if Sarkozy was not naïve when he got the Russians’ agreement to the ceasefire before their troops had left South Ossetia. [Le Figaro, 21 August 2008; Le Parisien, 20 August 2008]

-- From The European Journal. Sign up for FREE to John Laughland's 'Intelligence Digest' to find out what’s really happening in Europe --

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