Sarko and Friends

I have to say, I’m pretty thrilled about Nicolas Sarkozy’s new foreign minister:

Sarkozy has just named Socialist Bernard Kouchner as his Foreign Minister.
What will this mean for French foreign policy — and perhaps US-French relations?
The former is perhaps easier to predict. Kouchner is best known as a founder (1971) of Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), the Nobel-winning transnational medical organization. Most of the cofounders had worked for the Red Cross in Biafra in the late 1960s and were critical of the agency for being too deferential to international law, political neutrality and state sovereignty.
That history provides a huge hint as to Kouchner’s priorities and ideas. In 1987, he published a book with a title that also strongly signals his priorities: The duty to intervene. He declares simply, “mankind’s suffering belongs to all men.”

In Soviet Russia, the whole thing reads you. Basically, though he was unduly hawkish about Iraq, Koucher seems very, very likely to encourage additional Western action on Darfur. This isn’t a good as having Samantha Power as Secretary of State, but it’s pretty close.

2 thoughts on “Sarko and Friends

  1. What is depressing is that sincere but idle condemnation of the war in Darfur has served as a moral fig leaf for a lot of people. (And I’m beginning to wonder if the same is true of global warming.)
    On the other hand, Sarkozy’s and Boucher’s pro-Americanism may be equally coy. That is, completely earnest and yet ineffectual, at least with regard to American Republicanism. It’s not as if France will send troops to Iraq. If that is what is going on, then this side of Sarkozy is good for France and I support it.

  2. What is depressing is that sincere but idle condemnation of the war in Darfur has served as a moral fig leaf for a lot of people.
    The point here is that with Kouchner it’s more likely that concrete steps will be taken to end the genocide.
    On the other hand, Sarkozy’s and Boucher’s pro-Americanism may be equally coy. That is, completely earnest and yet ineffectual, at least with regard to American Republicanism. It’s not as if France will send troops to Iraq. If that is what is going on, then this side of Sarkozy is good for France and I support it.
    I think Sarkozy’s pro-Americanism is mostly of an economic variety. France very clearly goes way too far in restricting the labor market in all kinds of awful ways, and so for someone like Sarkozy a more laissez-faire country looks attractive. But everything’s relative, of course. Sarkozy’s not going to kill off France’s health care program, and I doubt he’ll be able to abolish the 35-hour work week. And even if his pro-Americanism extends to foreign affairs, no one in their right mind thinks France is going to be bombing Iranian nuclear plants.

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