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Sarkozy, Libya and Diplomacy of Extreme Urgency

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NICOLAS SARKOZY
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It's a simple story.

I didn't vote for Nicolas Sarkozy.

Barring dramatic and, I hope, improbable circumstances in which, like Chirac, he might be running against a Le Pen in the next presidential election, I shall vote against him once again.

We were already well aware that Gaddafi was this psychopath, this assassin when, three years ago and Bulgarian nurses notwithstanding, he was received in Paris with great pomp and fanfare, red carpet and all, and I was among those who denounced the act.

And I'm not even going to mention the Roms, the debate over national identity, the ideological poaching on National Front terrain, to say nothing of the innumerable subjects, and that's putting it mildly, concerning which I disagree with him.

But here's the thing.

I am in Libya.

In my mind's eye is the image of these rebels who have never in their lives held a weapon in their hands, going to the front where the mercenaries and aircraft serving a regime that claims it is ready to drown its own country in "rivers of blood" await them.

Beyond the accounts of the citizens of Benghazi who have described to me the horror of this regime, its prisons, its underground torture centers for the past five days, I still hear the voice of Abdul Hafiz Gogha, spokesman of the National Council of Transition, that of Mustafa Abdeljeleel, its president, and those of their assistants and commanders, going mad with despair over the hesitation of the international community.

So, powerless in the face of so much distress, on the off chance, I call the president of the Republic of my country and tell him there is one thing, one already, perhaps only one, that a great democracy might do, and that would consist of receiving Abdeljeleel, or Gogha, or any one of their emissaries and of telling them, "Gaddafi no longer deserves to represent your country; you alone, the representatives of the Free Commune of Benghazi, have the legitimacy and the right from now on."

And it happens that the French president immediately has the sound reaction -- not the calculation, but the reaction, one of those pure reactions that are as much a part of politics as calculation or tactics. It happens that he has the same kind of reaction as François Mitterrand did the day when, in tragically similar circumstances, as Bosnia burned, I called him from Sarajevo to announce that I was bringing Bosnian President Izetbegovic to meet him. It turns out that President Sarkozy has the sound reaction and answers, on the phone, that he will unhesitatingly receive my friends, on the date of their choice, and that this reception is tantamount to recognition.

As everyone now knows, the event took place on the morning of March 10th, with full honors, at this Elysée Palace that for them, I know, is the symbol of democracy and human rights.

On that day, the president of the republic obviously made no mention, as some commentators overeager to print their stories wrote, of going to "bomb Libya".

On the contrary, he unceasingly emphasized the fact that the Libyan revolution can be carried out only by the Libyans themselves, and he added, in passing, his opposition to any operation conducted under the NATO flag.

However, he promised to do everything possible to convince his partners to assist the National Council of Transition and, at the latter's precise request, to neutralize the planes Gaddafi is using to strafe the troops of Libyan freedom and, now and then, unarmed demonstrators with machine gun fire.

As I write these lines, on Friday, March 11th, at 6:00 PM, I do not know if the French president, joined by the British prime minister, will triumph over the juridico-pussyfooting quibbling of the others.

I do not know -- and, given what is at stake, it seems to me, frankly, of secondary importance -- if he has let this minister or that one in on the secret, as the protocol maniacs keep repeating, in a loop.

All I know is that, at this moment, I am proud of my country -- and that I have not been more so since May 16th, 2007.

Most of all, I hope to see Libya rid of this Nero's illiterate gang who have made off with their country and drenched it in blood -- at this point, with impunity -- as soon as humanly possible.