Sarkozy Wants to be France’s President — and a Friend to the United States

Sarkozy Wants to be France’s President — and a Friend to the United States

PARIS -- "The question that needs to be asked is -- do we want to be vassals of the United States, do we want to be a 51st state?" observed Gilles Savary, a French Socialist member of the European parliament, to the London Daily Telegraph recently. Savary was referring to U.S.-European relations in tones the Telegraph described as "searingly anti-American." But Savary is not just another left-wing French politician singing the familiar anti-American chanson. He is a foreign policy spokesman for Ségolène Royal, the Socialist presidential candidate.

Savary's comment carries added weight because the conventional wisdom about Ségolène Royal is that she has no foreign policy experience. The candidate herself has said relatively little about relations with the United States, so her meeting with a Hezbollah parliamentarian in Beirut last December became something of a defining moment. When the parliamentarian representing the Islamist militant group criticized Israel and U.S. foreign policy, she agreed with him.

By contrast, Nicolas Sarkozy, the conservative candidate who is currently leading in the polls, has shaped a policy that differs from President Jacques Chirac's coolness towards Washington. In a keynote speech in New York in September 2006, Sarkozy said if he became president France would focus on strengthening bilateral relations, because that is the most effective way to meet shared global challenges.

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