The man who introduced Sarkozy to the Benghazi rebels is none other than Bernard-Henri Lévy, a pop philosopher so French that I can’t think of an American equivalent. We just don’t have philosophers who wear their shirts unbuttoned, marry blond actresses, and take sides, enthusiastically, in wars in Bangladesh, Angola, Rwanda, Bosnia, and beyond. By siding with Lévy’s emotional plea for humanitarian intervention—a decision that surprised even his own foreign minister—Sarkozy apparently thinks he might share some of the philosopher’s glamour.Sarkozy clearly hopes the Libyan adventure will make him popular, too. Nobody finds this surprising. At a conference in Brussels over the weekend, I watched a French participant boast of France’s leading role in the Libyan air campaign. A minute later, he heartily agreed that the war was a ploy to help Sarkozy get re-elected. The two emotions—pride in French leadership and cynicism about Sarkozy’s real motives—were not, it seems, mutually exclusive.… had Sarkozy’s primary aim been to expose the weakness and incoherence of European foreign policy, he could not have done so any more effectively… The Libyan affair “demonstrates the immaturity of European security and defense policy, the poverty of the political debate, and the inadequacy of personnel.” No one thinks Europe is going to emerge from this affair any stronger, either, even if the French president does.
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