When Hitchens is bad, he’s awful, but when he’s good, he’s really good. And he’s really good writing about The French Correction
The principled new foreign minister shows how much France has changed of late (h/t The Anchoress):
The single best symbol of the change in France is the appointment of Bernard Kouchner to the post of foreign minister. Had the Socialist Party won the election, it is highly unlikely that such a distinguished socialist would ever have been allowed through the doors of the Quai d’Orsay. (Yes, comrades, history actually is dialectical and paradoxical.) In the present climate of the United States, a man like Kouchner would be regarded as a neoconservative. He was a prominent figure in the leftist rebellion of 1968, before breaking with some of his earlier illusions and opposing the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan—the true and original source of many of our woes in the Islamic world. The group he co-founded—Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières—was a pioneer in the highly necessary proclamation that left politics should always be anti-totalitarian. (His former counterpart, Joschka Fischer of Germany, also took a version of this view before Schröder’s smirking Realpolitik became too much, and too popular in Germany, for him to withstand.)
His principles led Kouchner to defend two oppressed Muslim peoples—those of Yugoslavia and Iraqi Kurdistan—who were faced with extermination at the hands of two parties daring to call themselves socialist. The Serbian Socialist Party of Slobodan Milosevic and the Arab Baath Socialist Party of Saddam Hussein are at last receding into history, leaving behind them a legacy of utter stagnation, hysterical aggression, and mass graves. I personally find it satisfying that a French socialist was identified with both these victories. Kouchner was instrumental in altering French policy in Bosnia-Herzegovina and later in filling the position—between 1999 and 2001—of U.N. representative in liberated Kosovo. Prior even to that, he had been extremely active in calling attention to the genocidal policy of Saddam in Kurdistan and in helping to introduce Danielle Mitterrand, wife of the then-president of France, to the exemplary role that she played in opposing it. A few years ago, he wrote the introduction to the French edition of The Black Book of Saddam Hussein, a vitally important volume that educates readers in the pornographic nature of that regime: a nightmare government that is now widely considered by liberals to have been framed up by the Bush administration.
“The world did really well in getting Sarkozy as President and Kouchner as Foreign Minister.”