Nothing inspires less confidence in the bases of France’s war against Libya than this photo of Bernard-Henri Lévy about to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy. It is in this state that France’s most media-savvy “philosopher” discussed the high politics of war and peace with Sarkozy, apparently persuading him to bomb Libya.
BHL then went on television (2:30) to say that France would probably be bombing Libya, albeit with his shirt done up. Apparently four-buttons down was not solemn enough attire for a philosopher to announce a war. This role had followed some theatrics in Benghazi itself, looking rather haggard, but getting media attention to himself and the cause.
French diplomacy has previously gotten in trouble for excess of flesh. Boris Boillon – Sarkozy’s new ambassador to Tunisia and previously ambassador to Iraq – immediately got into some hot water for undiplomatic comments he made to the local media and Marine Le Pen digging up this pic from a dating site.
Lévy and Sarkozy both being creatures of the mass media – the French talk of hypermédiatisation, people, or bling (anything crassly rich and famous tends to get an pseudo-English term imported for the occasion) – their collaboration grants an unsavory air to the whole affair. One is left with the impression that the entire crusade was started on a whim, primarily as a publicity stunt. (The circumstantial evidence – Sarkozy’s famously erratic temperament, perpetual scandals and chronically flagging poll numbers – doesn’t help either.)
PS: Presseurop has a nice little roundup of the splits among French intellectuals on the war.