The French election wasn’t the boon for US-French relations that it seemed:
Nicolas Sarkozy, the right-wing reformer who becomes French President on Wednesday, upset both the United States and his opponents yesterday by offering the job of Foreign Minister to a Socialist veteran with anti-American credentials.
Hubert Védrine, 59 — a former senior aide to the late President Mitterrand — who served as Foreign Minister from 1997 to 2002, was considering the proposal yesterday.
Vedrine’s anti-US credentials go back a ways. He called us the “hyperpower” back as far as 1998, by which he meant that US power was overwhelming and needed to be contained by France and like-minded states. If you’re keeping score at home, 1998 was during the Clinton years, so Vedrine can’t be seen as just another Bush Derangement Syndrome sufferer. He’s anti-American and sees France’s role in the world as mainly opposing us.
The rest of Sarkozy’s cabinet looks similar to what his defeated opponent, Socialist Segolene Royal, might have appointed had she won.
As well as Mr Védrine, other government candidates from the Left included Claude Allègre, the Socialist Education Minister under Lionel Jospin, the last Socialist Prime Minister, and Bernard Kouchner, the rights campaigner and former UN administrator in Kosovo, who served as a minister under Mitterrand. Anne Lauvergeon, a former close adviser to Mitterrand, who now heads AREVA, the national atomic energy firm, has also been approached.
Sarkozy wants French troops out of Afghanistan and wants the military option against Iran off the table too. In appointing so many Socialists to his cabinet, Sarko might be attempting to co-opt the left as he makes the hard moves necessary to keep France from falling apart. Or he might be a weaker American ally than we had any reason to expect. Time will tell. I’d put the champagne away, though. France will always be France.