"European Man" to the Rescue
This European man is a man who shares the same values and is unique on the planet. There is nowhere else in the world where we share the same common ideas and where we wish continually to draw the lessons from our history. It is a man who is at once very humble and very ambitious for humanity.What exactly Mr. de Villepin meant by the “European man” being ambitious “for humanity” – rather than just “for himself” as in the more usual form of ambition – he did not explain.
Americans will remember Mr. de Villepin, above all, as the French Foreign Minister who rallied the opposition to American calls for a UN Security Council resolution mandating the use of force in Iraq. Indeed, it has been rumored that the US was led to seek such a resolution in the first place by Mr. de Villepin’s informal assurances that France would support it in the event of Iraqi non-compliance with the conditions laid down in the prior SC Resolution 1441. Instead, Mr. de Villepin used the occasion to grandstand, posing the rhetorical question: “Why should we proceed by force, when we can succeed by peace?” Capitalizing on the fame that this incoherent turn-of-phrase - Mr. de Villepin has pretensions to being a poet and it shows - would earn him among the "antis" worldwide, de Villepin would later publish a volume of (likewise) quasi-literary reflections on international affairs under the title The Shark and the Seagull. On Mr. de Villepin's account, the violent way of the shark is apparently supposed to be that of the US; and the pacific manner of the seagull - as in J. Livingston, I suppose - of course, that of France. I'm not sure why it should be flattering to be compared to a scavenger. But be that as it me, for a useful review by Martin Walker in The National Interest, see here [hat tip Eric at No Pasarán].
(Note for French readers: Paul Landau, whose excellent book on Tariq Ramadan and the Muslim Brotherhood I recently reviewed on Trans-Int, has started a new blog. For Paul's take on de Villepin's "European man", see here.)