Is Nicolas Sarkozy the 'new George W. Bush'?

Jokes about French cowardice seem out of date after the French president's muscular moves in Libya and Ivory Coast

With military pushes in both Libya and the Ivory Coast, France's Nicolas Sarkozy seems to have a growing appetite for international intervention.
(Image credit: Corbis)

In 2003, France's opposition to George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq so infuriated U.S. conservatives that they renamed the innocent french fry. But "freedom fries" have been off the menu since Nicolas Sarkozy became France's president. Now, the French are leading the charge in Libya and Ivory Coast, and it's the French leader who's getting the Bush-like reputation as a foreign policy cowboy. Is Sarkozy taking over where Bush left off?

Yes, Sarkozy is the new Bush: First, Sarkozy went after Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, says Alex Spillius in The Telegraph, and then he plowed into Ivory Coast. The man clearly has a "growing appetite for muscular intervention." And Sarkozy sounds a lot like Bush when he justifies his actions, by speaking of "France's role as a shaper of history and a protector of liberty and democracy. Who is running the freedom agenda now?"

"Nicolas Sarkozy is the new George W. Bush"

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Sarkozy is a politician, not a cowboy: With President Obama stepping back and Sarkozy leading the way overseas, says Matt Frei at BBC News, nobody's calling the French "cheese eating surrender monkeys" now. The truth is, France never was "as lily-livered as its opponents made out." But Sarkozy's transformation probably has more to do with "domestic woes" than with quenching a thirst for foreign adventure. His polling numbers are down with "an election looming," and restoring France's "nostalgia for grandeur" might save him.

"France's new-found appetite for foreign adventure"

Either way, it is a welcome change: No doubt about it — "France is a nation transformed," says Jonathan Kay in Canada's National Post. This is the "foreign-policy version of the 97-pound weakling who becomes king of the beach after going in for a few months of Charles Atlas." And whatever the reason for Sarkozy's remaking of France into "ass-kicker-in-chief," the "world is a better place" with another powerful nation showing a willingness to "confront dictators."

"France's new stereotype: The West's ass-kicker-in-chief"

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