Friday, May 04, 2007

"The French have been sitting around talking to themselves as if the world didn't exist"

When an interviewer asked Valéry Giscard d'Estaing the other day what he thought of the minimal attention paid to international affairs in France's presidential election campaign, he corrected his questioner
remembers John Vinocur in the International Herald Tribune.
There was no interest at all, the former president said. "It's a France living with the shutters closed," he said. "The French have been sitting around talking to themselves as if the world didn't exist."

… A country confused about how to end the misery of its high unemployment and low growth, France likes the prerogatives that come with United Nations Security Council membership and its hold on big-power status as a nuclear-armed nation. But it doesn't want to hear and think much about its diminished place in the world, or the prospect of new responsibilities and having to take sides.