Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Better and Better

Nicholas Sarkozy, today the President of France, has named Bernard Kouchner as foreign minister and is expected to name Francois Fillon as prime minister.

Kouchner is a socialist elephant (important Socialist Party members are called "elephants") and the founder of Medecins sans Frontieres. He has the reputation of being an Atlanticist and has notably stood aside from the open hostility of the French Left to the United States. His father is a Jew and his mother a Protestant - he is from religious minorities on both sides.

French Protestants are generally less prone to antisemitism than French Catholics. During the Nazi occupation, French Jews who were in hiding, like Sarkozy's grandfather, usually hid among Protestants. For example Sarkozy's grandfather could only get her parents' permission to marry his grandmother by converting to Catholicism. Kouchner's father was not forced to the same extreme.

Kouchner's tenure as foreign minister at the very least means an end to the possibility of French support for Quebec independence, which Segolene Royal said she favored, and the endless turmoil that would have caused Canada.

Fillon is to be appointed because he is a supporter of Sarkozy's proposed economic reforms. But he fits in in another way as well. He is an Anglophile who served in the French diplomatic corps in England and married a Welsh bride, Penelope. His younger brother Pierre married Penelope's younger sister Jane.

With these three in power it is foreseeable that the dark days of Arafat coming to Paris fresh from some massacre of Israelis and being received as a hero at the Elysee Palace, are over. Similarly French foreign policy reflexively giving the back of the hand to the United States and Britain is over as well.

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