Thursday, May 24, 2007


It will not come as a surprise to those who know me that I supported Nicolas Sarkozy in the French presidential race: in addition to the appeal of several of his campaign themes (encouragement of hard work, toughness on crime, pro-Americanism, etc.), his rival, Mlle Royal's proposals on the economy were truly appalling, and she didn't strike confidence in foreign policy either). Nonetheless I have no great expectations of his presidency, as truly thorough and positive reforms will likely enrage and outrage a vast majority of French people (although I must say that it would be fun to see the French labour unions – the "enemy within" as Maggie would say – being cut down to size).
Having said that I have been impressed with Sarkozy's swift and impressive moves since he was inaugurated on May 16th. His cabinet appointments were mostly a welcome breath of fresh air, as well as being politically shrewd.
And now he also seems to be starting to show his mettle in international affairs. The Jerusalem Post reports:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Wednesday for sanctions on Iran to be tightened if the country does not adhere to the West's demands to cease its nuclear agenda.
If Iran attains nuclear weapons, Sarkozy warned, a road to an arms race will be paved that could endanger Israel and southeast Europe, he said during an interview with a German magazine.
Sarkozy announced that France will join the official US-led struggle against head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei, who recommended that Iran be allowed to enrich uranium in some of its nuclear plants.
On Tuesday, American officials urged allies to back a formal protest against ElBaradei, saying his comments could hurt UN Security Council efforts to pressure Teheran over its enrichment program.
"We were indeed surprised by several comments from Mr. ElBaradei over the weekend," said French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei. "We share the gist of concerns expressed by our American partners - along with several other partners, for that matter."
As I said, my expectations are quite low, but the initial signs are certainly encouraging. It's early days yet, but you never know!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lieberman is a hero

I was very glad to read that Joe Lieberman is willing to bring his clout to bear to keep the Democrats in line on Iraq (via Instapundit):
Senator Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, says his disagreement with the Democrats over the Iraq war won't prevent him from working with his former party. For now.
"I hope the moment doesn't come that I feel so separated from the caucus" that he decides to shift allegiance to the Republicans, he said in an interview. Asked what Democratic actions might cause such a break, he invoked Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's famous 1964 definition of pornography: "I'll know it when I see it."
The 65-year-old lawmaker is the margin of difference in the Democrats' 51-49 control of the Senate. A switch to the Republicans, which he won't rule out, would create a 50-50 tie that would allow Vice President Dick Cheney to cast a deciding vote for Republican control. Lieberman has "gone from being dispensable to essential for the Democrats," said Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The senator, the Democrats' 2000 vice presidential nominee, was defeated in last year's primary after three terms by anti- war candidate Ned Lamont. Lieberman created a new line on the ballot, "Connecticut for Lieberman," and won a five-way general election with 50 percent of the vote.
Lieberman, meanwhile, said it may take a lot more to change his mind on the war, which he says is vital to U.S. national security. "I believe very strongly that we can still succeed in Iraq," he said. "Unless Petraeus comes back and says it's hopeless, I'm going to stick with the program."
I couldn't agree more. And I can't help but thinking that it is this kind of "gentle prodding" that has at least contributed to this positive, albeit belated, result:
Democrats gave up their demand for troop-withdrawal deadlines in an Iraq war spending package yesterday, abandoning their top goal of bringing U.S. troops home and handing President Bush a victory in a debate that has roiled Congress for months.
Keep them on their toes, Joe!