Back in 2002-03, when France opposed going to war in Iraq, conservatives spared no venom for the country some called "Our Oldest Enemy." In retrospect, though, France was a better friend to us then than she's been in our ongoing Libyan debacle.
As the bombing began last month, the LA Times ran a piece showing that French bellicosity (yes) had been instrumental in dragging the US to war:
Earlier in the week, French papers reported that when Sarkozy asked [Secretary of State] Clinton to come out more forcefully in favor of action in Libya, she replied, "There are difficulties" and refused to be drawn out further.
"Frankly, we are completely puzzled," a French diplomat told one of his European counterparts. "We are wondering if Libya is a priority for the United States."
It shouldn't be. Apparently it is now. And that, I argue in my Washington Examiner column this week, shows the dangers of NATO, a 60-year-old entangling alliance that long ago outlived its usefulness.
Much of the piece focuses on Bernard Henri-Levy, the French celebrity-philosopher who played a key role in stoking Sarko's dreams of military glory:
Credit or blame goes to French celebrity-philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy, who, "in the space of roughly two weeks," the New York Times reports, got "a fledgling Libyan opposition group a hearing from the president of France and the American secretary of state, a process that led both countries and NATO into waging war."
Who is Bernard Henri-Levy (BHL)? He's heir to an industrial fortune, and a crusading socialist who favors open-collared shirts, stylishly long locks and "humanitarian" wars. One critic summed up BHL's persona tartly: "God is dead, but my hair is perfect."
Henri-Levy's 2006 book, "American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville," was so condescending about America's "derangements," "dysfunctions" and "hyperobesity," it roused NPR's Garrison Keillor to a fit of patriotic ire. The normally placid "Prairie Home Companion" host called BHL "a French writer with a spatter-paint prose style and the grandiosity of a college sophomore."
And yet, BHL - clever boy - helped entangle this fat, silly country in a conflict that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admits "isn't a vital interest for the U.S."