Remember when Sarko called Obama an “utterly immature,” empty suit?
Well, not much has changed (and notice The Times headline):
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.
Turkey was an issue,
Again, according to the Sarkozy version, at the Nato summit in Strasbourg, Mr Obama was meekly yielding to Turkey’s refusal to endorse Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the alliance’s new Secretary-General. It took pressure from Mr Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel of Germany to stiffen him up and change his mind, say the French.
Mr Obama’s favour for Ankara has irked but also helped Mr Sarkozy as his Union for a Popular Movement campaigns for European Parliament elections in June. Mr Sarkozy slapped down the US President on French TV after he publicly called for Turkish entry to the European Union.
Permanent refusal of Turkish membership is one of Mr Sarkozy’s policy planks and one of his most popular with voters. Mr Obama’s venture into EU affairs has enabled Mr Sarkozy to make political capital. He has shown that France can still stand up to the United States despite rejoining the Nato command last week.
This rather nasty reaction on Sarko’s part points out a number of things:
First of all and obviously, successful politicians everywhere can and will use the publicity from any given event to further their agenda: The “rock star welcome” that Obama so enjoyed has been turned on its head to make Obama appear superficial and empty, while Sarko scores points with the home audience on several hot-button issues by presenting himself as a seasoned “world troubleshooter.”
The home audience is the one that counts: Sarko doesn’t give a damn as to whether he’s popular anywhere else; what matters to him is how he does in France.
On the personal end, Sarko knows a back-handed compliment (“hyper-president”, “He is courageous on so many fronts, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with him.”) when he hears it.
Most importantly, no matter how much some may call for “people of the world” oneness, every government and every head of state have the duty to further their country’s best interest.
Let’s hope President Obama recognizes that fact.
Ed looks at “smart power.”