…The One was going to fix our image around the world; he was going to rescue the US’ reputation, especially with the world’s legitimate powers, Russia and Germany and France.
Do I remember that correctly? It seems so long ago:
Mr Sarkozy is pouring cold water on President Obama’s efforts to recast American leadership on the world stage, depicting them as unoriginal, unsubstantial and overrated. Behind leaks and briefings from the Elysée Palace lies Mr Sarkozy’s irritation at the rock-star welcome that Europe gave Mr Obama on his Europan tour earlier this month.
The American President’s call “to free the world of the menace of a nuclear nightmare” was hot air, Mr Sarkozy’s diplomatic staff told him in a report. “It was rhetoric – not a speech on American security policy but an export model aimed at improving the image of the United States,” they said. Most of Mr Obama’s proposals had already been made by the Bush administration and Washington was dragging its feet on disarmament and treaties against nuclear proliferation, the leaked report said.
Of course, there’s a domestic French motivation, too:
On the personal side, the French President is needled by the adulation for an unproven US leader whose stardom has eclipsed what he sees as his established record as a world troubleshooter. “The President is annoyed by what he sees as the naivety and the herd mentality of the media,” said a journalist who is privy to Elysée thinking.
The other reason? France craves a more prominent place on the world stage; it left empire rather grudgingly. On those occasions where the US has left a vaccuum, the French have moved in.
And there’d seem to be a vaccuum.