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  WEDNESDAY
So Who Is Sarkozy?

by Joel Rosenberg
[novelist] 5/9/07

This is a year of dramatic political changes in Europe that bear close watching.

Britain's Tony Blair will soon step down, making way for Labour leader Gordon Brown, currently the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to take over as Prime Minister on July 2. Brown will eventually face conservative Tory leader David Cameron in a battle for Britain's future.

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Contributor
Joel
Rosenberg


Joel C. Rosenberg is the New York Times best-selling author of THE LAST JIHAD (2002), THE LAST DAYS (2003), and THE EZEKIEL OPTION (2005), with more than one million copies in print. He previously served as a senior advisor to several U.S. and Israeli leaders, including Steve Forbes, Rush Limbaugh, former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky, and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has been interviewed on more than 300 radio and TV shows, including ABC's "Nightline," CBN's 700 Club, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, the Michael Reagan Show, the Rush Limbaugh Show and the Sean Hannity Show.. Website - [go to Rosenberg Index]

The Ezekiel Option

The Last Days

The Last Jihad

Epicenter

On July 22, Turkey will hold major elections that could end in pro-Iranian and pro-Russian Islamic fundamentalists in charge of what has been a U.S.-friendly secular government.

But the biggest news so far comes from France, where center-right presidential candidate Nicholas Sarkozy has just defeated the socialist Segolene Royal, 53% to 47% in a fiercely-contested runoff. So who is Nicolas Sarkozy and what kind of President will he be?

At a youthful and energetic 52, he is widely seen as more pro-American than his predecessor, the out-going 74-year old Jacques Chirac. Royal last week accused Sarkozy of being a "dangerous choice" who would threaten democracy and could spark a civil war. Worse, Royal compared Sarkozy to President Bush, the ultimate insult in France these days. Nevertheless, the French elected him anyway and upon hearing the news of his victory, Sarkozy immediately reached out to the American people as "friends" and said he looked forward to working with Washington.

"My dedication to our relationship with America if well known and has earned me substantial criticism in France," he told the Wall Street Journal. "But let me tell you something, I'm not a coward. I embrace that friendship. I'm proud of the friendship...and I proclaim it proudly."

On national security, Sarkozy could emerge as tougher than Chirac. He has vowed not to cut French defense spending. He has promised to build a new French aircraft carrier, capable of projecting French military power well into in the 21st century. What's more, while he opposed the war in Iraq, he now warns that a premature U.S. troop withdrawal would "lead to chaos."

Sarkozy has taken a hardline against Islamic radicals operating inside France. He served as the country's Interior Minister during the Paris riots by Muslim radicals in 2005 and was responsible for ordering the severe police crackdown on such radicals. There are now fears the Muslims will launch a new wave of violent protests because Sarkozy has been elected.

Worth noting: polls showed that voters in the Muslim neighborhoods where the worst of the violence took place in 2005 overwhelming backed the socialist candidiate, Segelone Royal.

"Sarkozy is deeply unpopular in housing estates where the residents are mostly second- and third-generation immigrants, many of them Muslims from former colonies in North Africa," reported Reuters. "If Sarkozy wins there will certainly be riots here in Clichy and all over France," said Moroccan-born Mohammed Saidi, 43, a first-time voter in Clichy-sous-Bois, one of the neighborhoods where the worst rioting took place.

On other foreign policy issues, Sarkozy is strongly opposed to allowing Turkey to join the European Union, warning of the threat of allowing 100 million more Muslims free reign through the European continent. He is generally perceived to be pro-Israel, telling the Jerusalem Post that Israel has the right to defend herself against radical Islamic attacks.He has said that he supports a Palestinian state but only after Israel's security is assured.

Sarkozy warns that the Iran is the number one threat in the Middle East and that an Iranian nuclear bomb would be absolutely unacceptable, yet he opposes a war with Iran, just as he opposed the U.S.-led liberation of Iraq.

"I want to be clear on Iran," he told the Jerusalem Post. "It is unacceptable and dangerous that Iran pursues a militarily nuclear capability. Iran has the opportunity to reestablish confidence concerning the nature of its nuclear activities....With regard to Mr. Ahmadinejad, I remind you of what I have already said about his attitudes and positions. His call for the destruction of Israel and denial of the reality of the Shoah [Holocaust] are totally inadmissible and irresponsible. I am actually not even sure these views are shared by a majority of Iranians, far from it."

Sarkozy is a big believer in tax cuts and privatization to reinvigorate the sluggish French economy. A 2004 Time magazine profile described him as a "believer in free markets," noting that "as Finance Minister, on Sept. 1 Sarkozy decided to sell off a €4.6-billion chunk of France Telecom, reducing the government's stake to under 50% for the first time; on Sept. 2 it was finished. Last month he moved to waive inheritance taxes on sums below €100,000 per estate, suspended a 3% corporate tax, and withstood stiff protests from unions to lay the groundwork for the partial privatization of Electricité de France. He also deplores France's 35-hour workweek, and says it must be changed to allow those who want to work more to do so."

"By backing Sarkozy, voters showed they wanted a strong leader to resolve France's many problems, including high unemployment of at least 8.3 percent, falling living standards, job insecurity and declining industrial might," noted a Reuters analysis. "He has promised a clean break with the policies of Chirac, once his political mentor, and says he will curb the powers of the unions and toughen sentencing for criminals. On foreign policy, Sarkozy is more pro-American than Chirac, but has made clear he opposes the war in Iraq and will find it hard to ally himself too closely to Washington because of anti-U.S. sentiment at home."

Segolene Royal's campaign stumbled over a number of gaffes she made, particularly those revealing her lack of knowledge of foreign and defense policy issues. My favorite example: "Royal [was] trapped during a radio interview into revealing her ignorance of defence issues. She was asked how many nuclear-missile-carrying submarines France possessed. 'One,' she suggested. When the interviewer said 'seven,' she agreed that it was seven, only to be told that it was actually four."

BOTTOM LINE:
1) the French socialists have suffered a huge defeat, always a good thing
2) the U.S. now has a more pro-American leader to work with in Paris
3) the E.U. suddenly has a new leader who seems to understand just how serious the threat of radical Islam and has a history of being tough on extremists
4) French Jews and Israel believe Sarkozy may be more sympathetic to the threats and challenges they face from the Islamic world
5) Big Questions: Is Nicolas Sarkozy a man the Bush administration can work with on the biggest issues in the Mideast, namely Iraq and Iran, and does Sarkozy recognize the dangerous direction Vladimir Putin is taking Russia?
6) Only time will tell just what kind of leader Nicolas Sarkozy will be, but French voters appear to have taken an important step in the right direction at a critical time in U.S.-French relations.
CRO

 

 

copyright 2007 - Joel Rosenberg

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