Taylor Dinerman lauds president Nicolas Sarkozy for his Libya policy. The victory over Gaddafi belongs to the Libyans themselves, but Sarkozy also can take some credit for the success:
Much of the credit should also go to the world leader who, early on, decided to bet on the rebels: France's President Nicolas Sarkozy. After some prodding from the celebrity intellectual, Bernard Henri Levy, Sarkozy began to lobby the rest of the West, especially US President Barack Obama and a few Arab governments,against Gaddafi.
While there were some political reasons for Sarkozy's actions, including the need to make everyone, in Libya and elsewhere forget about the ill-considered 2008 arms sales to Libya, the French government's motives were less cynical than one might have come to expect, based on past performance from past regimes. This is to Sarkozy's credit, and may presage an enduring shift in France's overall foreign policy towards a less automatic anti-US and anti-NATO posture.
It was Sarkozy's decision in June to airdrop a massive supply of weapons, including especially the Milan wire-guided anti-tank missiles, for the Arab and Berber rebels in the Jebel Nefousa mountains south of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, that future military historians will probably see as the decisive move that broke the back of Gaddafi's military forces. France's traditionally intimate knowledge of Berber tribal politics may have been one of the reasons behind this move; also, the fact that French intelligence believed, correctly as it turned out, that, if well armed, the Berbers would prove formidable fighting men.
But Sarkozy´s Libyan success may not be enough to get him re-elected:
His poll numbers are far worse than those of any other Western leader. In one recent survey roughly 50% of Frenchmen said they would not vote for him under any circumstances. His job approval rating hovers consistently around 25%.
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One must hope that Dinerman is right about the shift in French foreign policy "towards a less automatic anti-US and anti-NATO posture". That would be most welcome from a transatlantic/NATO point of view. There have not been too many positive developments in that area during the last few years.