Thursday, September 20, 2007

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A lost virtue of TimesSelect

The dealth of TimesSelect has been greeted with huzzahs in the blogosphere. And let's face it, one reason for the NYT op-ed page's existence is to be a big fat target for snarky blogs (see the last paragraph in this Kevin Drum post for one sentence takedowns of three op-ed columnists). The end of TimesSelect is good for the blogs and internets.

The change is not entirely cost-free, however. Now that the op-ed page is more accessible, greater attention must be paid to screw-ups by the contributors. Exhibit A is Roger Cohen's essay on "the destruction of 10 taboos as President Nicolas Sarkozy assumes the role of Europe’s most dynamic leader." Most of these taboos are about style more than substance, but let's quote two of them that need some correction:

THE AMERICAN TABOO Enthusiasm for the United States was unacceptable for a French political leader because it was always interpreted as an embrace of “Wild West” capitalism, “Anglo-Saxon” hegemony and vulgarity. De rigueur attitudes held sway: patronizing contempt in Paris met macho derision in Washington. Communication suffered. Sarko’s New Hampshire vacation, enthused American dreaming, iPod-accompanied jogging and in-your-face style cleared the air....

THE NATO TABOO There’s talk of France rejoining the integrated military command of the alliance, unthinkable since Charles de Gaulle hauled the country out in a huff in 1966.

Why, yes, these ideas do seem taboo for France. In fact, I haven't heard such notions floated since.... since... Sarkozy's predecessor, Jacques Chirac, assumed office in May 1995:
In this regard [Sarkozy] is similar to President Jacques Chirac, who came into office with some sincere pro-American sentiments not at all in the Gaullist tradition. Chirac’s affection for his youthful travels and work in the United States seems, or at least seemed, quite real. He visited Chicago in the winter of 1996, in part to try to convince expatriate French entrepreneurs to consider investing in France (in itself, a shockingly non-Gaullist mission). His informality, joviality, and the warm colloquial English he spoke during his visit now appear to belong to a completely different person than the Chirac who so tenaciously fought the United States in the run-up to the Iraq war, or the Chirac who tried in recent years to lord it over the eastern Europeans and his own countrymen.
As for rejoining NATO's military structure, Emma Charlton's AFP story puts Sarkozy's proposal into the proper historical context:
[Defence Minister Herve] Morin insisted France's "priority is to support and relaunch Europe's security and defence policy", but asked: "Why should our partners lose faith in a system that has ensured peace for 50 years, in favour of a system that does not yet exist?"

Paris rejoined NATO's military committee in 1996 grouping military chiefs of staff under President Jacques Chirac.

But the rapprochement was cut short after Washington refused to share more power with European countries in the integrated military structure.

Morin suggested France could now resume "the work begun in 1996", saying that France's role in NATO would be tackled in a white paper on defence and national security to be delivered in March 2008.

Call me when Sarkozy addresses other French taboos.

See, if TimesSelect still existed, I could have saved myself twenty minutes by simply ignoring Cohen's essay.

It should be noted that Cohen also has a blog. The hard-working staff here at looks forward to seeing if Cohen addresses these inconsistencies in today's column.

posted by Dan on 09.20.07 at 08:43 AM


Chirac was correct in his opposition to the American invasion of Iraq. That was hardly an anti-American position. Rather, it was anti-neocon insanity.

posted by: Randall Parker on 09.20.07 at 08:43 AM [permalink]

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