A Taleban reminder

THE French public must have felt strange being reminded by the Taleban that their president went back on one of his core election promises when he committed additional troops to Afghanistan at the Nato summit in Bucharest.

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Published: Tue 8 Apr 2008, 9:21 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:54 PM

Indeed, Sarkozy played to a voting public that responded to promises of withdrawing from Afghanistan when he waltzed into the Elysee Palace, but just like most of his promises, he did not seem much bothered by letting his right-wing tendencies dictate course.

Still, it is difficult to understand his decision owing to two points in particular. One, the miniscule addition of 700 French troops is not going to bolster Nato’s dwindling fortunes in any manner, as he must be well aware by now. The Soviet Red Army marched into Afghanistan with far greater numbers only to return with a bloody nose, a scenario not far from re-playing itself as occupation forces are forever on the back-foot.

Secondly, it only adds to Sarkozy’s rating-decline on the home front. It did not take long for the French to realise that the new president they voted in did not have much to offer beyond headline grabbing energy, which too revolved more around his private life. Also, if he thinks he’s doing his international standing any favours by siding with Washington’s neocon hierarchy, he probably needs to do a better study of international politics following 9/11.

From being dubbed the most dynamic French statesman since De Gaulle to the unending slump in his standing, Sarkozy’s is a story of a man who took precious little time to squander a mandate worth envying. Critics can hardly be faulted for doubting his ability to redeem since he shows neither the desire nor the capacity to give up spur-of-the-moment decision-making and an ad hoc way or running the office. Still, the Europeans are known for prevailing upon their leaders when they depart from public consent, an aspect of their society badly damaged in Blair’s England but now on test these days in France.

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