International

The anti-anti-Americans

In the wake of all the French-bashing, American in Paris Adam Gopnik has a revealing piece in The New Yorker about (among other things) the French intellectuals who have, to one degree or another, defended the USA and the war to oust Saddam Hussein:

“No completely defensible cause has ever been so poorly defended as this one,” André Glucksmann said in his apartment, up in the Tenth Arrondissement, the day after Bastille Day. He was speaking of the case made for the war in Iraq. “The great mistake was to settle for the absurd argument about weapons of mass destruction. Had the appeal for war been made on straightforward humanitarian grounds—the case against Saddam, this guy is a killer, we can do something about him and we must—I know it would have worked in France. Look, Bernard Kouchner”—the co-founder of the humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)—“is the most popular political figure in France, beyond question, and the moment the war was broached he came out in support of it, on purely humanitarian grounds. He lost perhaps one per cent in the polls. The French think, Well, arms, everyone has arms, and the French élite knew the kind of thug and gangster that Saddam was—they had contempt for him—and they communicated that. But people really did learn something from Bosnia, and had the case been made resolutely that we had another Milosevic it would have worked.”

Whether or not Glucksmann is correct, it’s a view that hasn’t got much attention outside of France. The New Yorker web site also features an interview with Gopnik in which he insists, “…the spectrum of French responses to this moment is far wider and more varied and nuanced than most American reporting has been prepared to admit, or able to see.”

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