Let Us Talk

July 25, 2008

Friday: Obama, An American In Paris ‘Bonjour’

 Only one venue was on Obama’s Paris schedule early Friday – the presidential Élysée Palace. President Nicolas Sarkozy was at the steps of the palace to greet Mr. Obama as he stepped from his car.
“Bonjour,” said Obama, after he was urged by journalists to say something in French and to pose for pictures with the French rightwing leader.  After a few pictures the two disappeared inside the building.  A joint news conference took place after their meeting. Mr. Sarkozy, a conservative, had rushed back from a meeting in south western France to host Mr. Obama.
 Although the two are on different sides of the political fence, the French leader seems to have a soft spot for the U.S. senator.

“Obama? He’s my buddy,” Le Figaro newspaper quoted President Sarkozy as saying before Obama’s arrival. “I am the only Frenchman who knows him.”

“In France, we’re watching with great interest what you’re doing,” Sarkozy told Obama, noting how he himself, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, doesn’t fit the stereotypical mould of a French leader.

“Barack Obama’s adventure is an adventure that rings true in the hearts and minds of the French and of Europeans,” Sarkozy gushed.

“Of course, it’s not up to the French to choose the next President of the United States of America,” he said, adding that he’d happily work with whichever candidate wins.

“There were two of us in my office. And one of us became president,” he said. “Well, let the other do likewise and win. Well, I mean, that’s not meddling.”

Mr. Sarkozy, elected in 2007, first met Mr. Obama in 2006 while a candidate for the French presidency.

He offered considerably less time and accessibility to John McCain during McCain’s March visit to Paris. After 45 minutes of talks McCain was left on his own, dealing with questions from reporters in the courtyard of the Élysée.

French supporters of Mr. Obama were excited about the visit.

“He is young, not from the establishment. It’s a change of U.S. politics, of the U.S. image in the world,” said Samuel Solvit, a 22-year-old economic student who is head of a Paris-based Obama committee.

He continued, “We are not here to influence the American vote, to use it politically. We are here to say that what is going on in the US has an influence on the world.”









1 Comment »

  1. Obama was our last big hope: pulling the troops out of Iraq, negotiations with Iran, first minority president, … what happened? Sarkosy is more Bush than … Bush!

    The really disappointing aspect of Obama is that he was supposed to be the peace candidate. But everything that he appeared to stand for- multiculturalism, religious toleration, peace, diplomacy- all are overshadowed by this foolish idea of moving the war to Pakistan.

    Moving the war on terror to Pakistan could have disastrous consequences on both the political stability in the region, and in the broader balance of power. In September 2006 Musharraf signed a peace deal with Pashtun tribal elders in North Waziristan. The deal gave pro-Taliban militants full control of security in the area. Al Qaeda provides funding, training and ideological inspiration, while Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Tribal leaders supply the manpower. These forces are so strong that last year Musharraf sent well over 100,000 trained Pakistani soldiers against them, but they were not able to prevail against them. The question remains, what does America do when Pakistan no longer has a Musharraf to bridge the gap? While Musharraf claims that President Bush has assured him of Pakistan’s sovereignty, Senator Obama obviously has no intention of honoring such an assurance. As it is, the Pakistanis do just enough to avoid jeopardizing U.S. support. Musharraf, who is caught between Pakistan’s dependence on American aid and loyalty to the Pakistani people, denies being George Bush’s hand-puppet. Musharraf insists that he is “200 percent certain” that the United States will not unilaterally decide to attack terrorists on Pakistani soil. What happens when we begin to do just that? In 2002 Musharraf was reported to have told a British official that his “great concern is that one day the United States is going to desert me. They always desert their friends.” Musharraf has more reason now to be skeptical of his American allies than ever.

    Comment by John Maszka — July 25, 2008 @ 10:16 pm | Reply

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