Pro-War France


Le Nouvel Observateur, a leading French political-intellectual magazine, runs a brief piece (French-language link) in its current issue identifying some prominent French figures who support American military action against Saddam Hussein. The rundown includes some predictable names from France's center-right establishment, such as pro-U.S. free-market politician Alain Madelin. But it also includes some surprises from the French left.

Bernard Kouchner, for example, a founder of Doctors Without Borders and the UN's man in Kosovo, backs the U.S., as does the intellectual critic Andre Glucksmann. Some of these figures support a war despite their distaste for the U.S. and the Bush administration. Filmmaker Romain Goupil, for example, sees the issue entirely in terms of Saddam. "My problem is simple," he says. "There's a dictator in Iraq. He massacres his people. He threatens his neighbors … We should have gotten rid of him in 1991. I don't see why we should hesitate this time."

Journalist Pascal Bruckner, however, sees a European problem as well. Bruckner has made a career out of criticizing intellectual sophistry; his best-known work here remains The Tears of the White Man: Compassion as Contempt (1983), an examination of the corrosive concept of the "Third World." He says,

"I see today in France a kind of destructive other-worldliness. Certain Europeans imagine they can escape History's difficulties by making a show of their finer feelings, as if they can create a progressive ideology out of demonizing the United States. They compare Bush with Hitler while accommodating the Islamists. There hasn't been much [European] intellectual progress since the fall of communism. Rather, things have gotten worse."