Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Thursday, June 16, 2005

Dominique Marie Francois Rene Galouzeau de Villepin
Written by: Dave

Sometimes I find myself almost liking France’s new prime minister, Dominique Marie Francois Rene Galouzeau de Villepin. Besides his entertaining name, he tends to provide more interesting fare than most politicians. For instance, can you imagine an American politician openly emulating Napoleon, or calling for the nation to “revive (its) history of epic collective adventures”? Some of the things he says are even somewhat refreshing, such as this statement:

“We in France recognize that the fate of man is essentially tragic. Humanity is dark.”

He’s half wrong on both counts, but almost every politician chooses to be half wrong in the opposite extremes (at least on the public record).

To say I kind of like Dominique de Villepin isn’t to say that I think he is good for America or anyone else for that matter. I say it in the same vein that I say I like Goldfinger, Dr. No, or Vladimir Putin, that is, purely for entertainment purposes. Of course to compare de Villepin to Goldfinger or Dr. No is to give him too much credit, as he is probably more similar to one of the minor Bond villains who teams up with the main villain only to be tossed aside when he is longer useful.

Of course de Villepin doesn’t see himself or France playing this role. Instead, he sees France playing the role of the central hero. Unfortunately, the only way that France can remain on the center stage is by opposing the U.S., but with a relatively weak military, a stagnating economy, and a society more interested in long vacations than “epic collective adventures”, de Villepin will be immersing France in more than it can handle. Diplomacy and international politics that aren’t backed up by brute force eventually mean nothing. Consequently, de Villepin will have to ally France with a power that truly does possess the power to counterweigh the U.S.

We already see this taking place as France tries to develop its ties with China, Iran, Russia, and Arab dictatorships. Of these countries, perhaps only China has the future potential to stand as a counterweight to the U.S., but as a collective, so might the others.

In the end, if France allows de Villepin to chase his aspirations of glory, it will turn out worst of all for France. With his studies of the Napoleonic Age, de Villepin should recognize that his France won’t be able to play the role that Napoleon’s France did. If modern day France has a good counterpart in the Napoleonic Age, it is Spain, which allied itself with Napoleon only to be betrayed as soon as it suited his interests. So too would a future China betray an essentially powerless France once it suited Chinese interests.

The question is, with internal divisions and problems mounting within France, will de Villepin and his successors ever be able to take the game that far? Or will the French citizenry finally force its leaders to fix the problems at home first?

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