THE BLOG
04/23/2007 09:06 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

An Open Letter To My French Friends: Don't Let Sarkozy Turn France into a Red State!

Tres chers amis,

I'm worried. Really worried. How can you have made Nicolas Sarkozy, the pint-size tough guy of the hard-right the leading contender to be next President of France? Not that I want to meddle in your internal politics, but since he's gotten there in large part by claiming to be pro-American, I think I should explain exactly what that means.

Here's something I've noticed - when Nicky-boy comes across the pond he heads straight for his favorite American destinations: places like the American Enterprise Institute or folks like the mail-order-college graduates who staff the Weekly Standard and the National Review. He fawns on them, they fawn on him. They ply him with the usual unearned privileges they so covet themselves - motorcades and banquets, flattery and freebies. They can't believe they've actually found a cheese-eating monkey who for once says all the things they want to hear. About stomping on the disadvantaged for instance (especially if they're Muslim), or opening up France's superb public services to privatization. Or his ranting about renewing France's national identity, France for the French, blah-blah-blah. In fact his ultra-nationalism is a good reason for my concern. Because while it may sound inspiring to you, what his fawning friends are thinking to themselves as they hear his chauvinistic drivel is: the more French France becomes, the less European it will be. And anything that weakens Europe is one of their sweetest dreams.

As far as I can see, Sarko, a child of immigrants, is no more French - or less French - than the children of immigrants he demeans as second-class citizens - and as far as I can tell proposes to demote still further. If he calls them 'racaille' in public (in English 'scum'), who knows what he calls them in private? But here's the thing; the term 'scum' is a dead giveaway. It's the language of the America that Nicky identifies with, the America which routinely calls the poor, weak and different 'scum', the America of people you wouldn't have heard of, like Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and Sean Hannity, organisms who make that tired old bigot Le Pen look like a wimpy tree-hugging peacenik. It's the America of murderous ethnic prejudice towards the 200 million-plus Semitic peoples who profess the faith of Islam. It's an America you only get the faintest whiff off from your rather polite news-casts, a nation of unregulated greed and metastasizing class privilege, of vicious institutional racism, fraudulent elections, predatory attacks on democratic and constitutional principles, of wholesale looting of the public treasury and the universal remedy of brute force.

But while Nicky probably has a good idea of what the America he snuggles up to really stands for, I believe you're confusing this America with the America you've always said you love - and there's no reason not to believe you - the America of jazz and Bogart and John Ford, of classic comics and World War 2 Coke and cigarette ads, of Dos Passos and Steinbeck, of Jackson Pollock and JFK and civil rights, the America which has been your partner in true democracy since the days of Lafayette. But that's not the America slick Nicky is pro-. It's the America of George Bush. What you're going to get if you vote for him in May, is Bush with French subtitles.

What you also may not know is how gleefully American neo-fascists natter among themselves about the possibility of having a trusted Quisling in the Elysee Palace. They cannot wait for the 'renewed' nationalism Nick promotes and the privatization he espouses. (There's more than one way Sarko brings Vichy to mind). He will be the means to destroy and humble the France that's stuck in their craw for so long. But at the same time he's a collaborator - a fifth column if you like - in a much larger war.

Sarko's American pals hate France for a complex stew of reasons - not the least because the French turned out to be 1000% right about Iraq. But what they truly despise is the European Union. China and India will be threats to American supremacy some day; the EU is a threat right here and now. Not just as a financial behemoth whose international financial clout is in the same league as that of the US, but also - and far more damagingly - because of the EU's sane and humane social and environmental priorities. Our neo-fascists despise its insistence on fundamental human rights like cradle-to-grave healthcare and creche-thru-college education, the right to adequate food, shelter, income and work, the absolute prohibition of capital punishment, its uncompromising separation of Church and State. They cannot abide its shrewd and sensible regulation of capitalist enterprises while not diminishing the power of the free market. They utterly despise the EU's embrace of a binding international criminal legal code. (Unsurprising given that our current leaders can plausibly be accused of crimes against humanity). Above all they know the appeal the EU model has in developing countries compared to their own thuggish policies, countries for whose markets and goodwill world powers will have to compete harder and harder in coming years.

The 'rupture' Sarko promises is not a rupture with the past, but with France's destiny as a leader of Europe. The economic 'reform' he promises is a retrograde sham that will throw open the gates of France - of both its corporations and its public treasuries - to the same barbaric marauders who've looted and pillaged America for the last six years.

Believe us the toxic cocktail of racism and unregulated greed unleashed by the American neo-fascists does not work. We've tried the hate-driven policies that go by the absurd name of neo-conservatism - which is neither new nor conservative - for the better part of two decades in Congress - and for a disastrous six years in the White House. They've brought only conflict, misery and classism at home, perpetual war - with the attendant war-crimes - and dishonor abroad. It won't work in France either. France will not be brought together by this blustering, posturing would-be Little Corporal, this dwarf standing on the shoulders of dwarves.

A vote for Sarko is not a vote for unity or the future. Sarko may claim he is 'tough' 'independent' a 'forward thinker', a 'reformer' He is nothing of the sort. We know his dirty secret. We've been there. He is front man for, and will be a pawn of, an America we're working to throw in its grave once and for all. If you put this man in power you will set in motion six years of the same conflict and vicious exploitation, the culture of death and force we have endured for the last six at the hands of the increasingly deranged tin-pot despot in the White House.

But there'll be a big difference between us. There's a very good chance that in less than two years this disgraceful episode in the American history will be over. But you'll be stuck with Sarko for another four long, long, years.