'Magic is over' for U.S., says French foreign minister

Bernard Kouchner, the foreign minister of France and a longtime humanitarian, diplomatic and political activist on the international scene, says that whoever succeeds President George W. Bush may restore something of the United States’ battered image and standing overseas, but that “the magic is over.”

In a wide-ranging conversation with Roger Cohen of the International Herald Tribune at the launch of a Forum for New Diplomacy in Paris, Kouchner on Tuesday also held out the hope of talking with Hamas, the Palestinian faction that rules the Gaza Strip but has been ostracized by the West and by its Palestinian rival, Fatah, because it opposes peace talks with Israel and denies that Israel has a right to exist.

Asked whether the United States could repair the damage it has suffered to its reputation during the Bush presidency and especially since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Kouchner replied, “It will never be as it was before.”

“I think the magic is over,” he continued, in what amounted to a sober assessment from one of the strongest supporters in France of the United States.

Read it all.


Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Europe, Foreign Relations

17 comments on “'Magic is over' for U.S., says French foreign minister

  1. C. Wingate says:

    I’m sure the French foreign minister said the same thing in 1974. It’s something that they do.

  2. Chris Molter says:

    I’m sure whoever winds up in the Oval Office will try to live up to Mr. Kouchner’s high standards.

    So.. when did the French “lose the magic”?

  3. DonGander says:

    The following excerpt was spoken by Teddy Roosevelt delivered at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910.

    I wish that I could claim the words. They are so apt here.

    Don Gander
    Let the man of learning, the man of lettered leisure, beware of that queer and cheap temptation to pose to himself and to others as a cynic, as the man who has outgrown emotions and beliefs, the man to whom good and evil are as one. The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twister pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities – all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The rôle is easy; there is none easier, save only the rôle of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.

  4. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    Actually, Kouchner [i]is[/i] a strong supporter, if not of the United States, well at least of Colombian communist rebels allied with Hezbollah …
    [blockquote][i]”Évidemment, ce n’est pas une bonne nouvelle que le numéro deux, Raul Reyes, l’homme avec qui nous parlions, l’homme avec qui nous avions des contacts, ait été tué”, a déploré Bernard Kouchner[/i] — “Obviously it’s not good news that [FARC’s] Number 2, the man with whom we were talking, the man with whom we had contacts, has been killed” deplored Bernard Kouchner[/blockquote]

    And a friend of Hamas, too…
    [blockquote][i]”C’est [sic] acharnement n’aura aucun résultat. Il n’y a pas de solution militaire. Il faut de la sagesse et des pourparlers. Il n’y a qu’une solution, c’est bien sûr la reprise des pourparlers.”[/i]—referring to Israeli attacks on missile factories in Gaza “This is a pointless slaughter. There is no military solution. We must rely on wisdom and negotiation. There is only one solution, which is most certainly a return to negotiation.”[/blockquote]

    As (of course) a friend of Russia…
    [blockquote][i]”Nous sommes tout à fait décidés à faire d’un partenariat stratégique avec la Russie un des objectifs de la présidence française. Nous allons y travailler pendant la présidence française et nous ne doutons pas que nous y parviendrons.”[/i] — “We have certainly decided to make strategic partnership with Russia one goal of this administration. We’re going to work on it during this administrations and we have no doubt but what we’ll succeed.”[/blockquote]

    His comments about the United States are wishful thinking. Right up there with his other comments that Serbia would make a great member of the EU, and that if they’d only work together Europe could be a military counterweight to the US.

    Mmm-hmm. Western Europe is so far behind the US militarily that on joint exercises we have to [i]lend[/i] them basic equipment (like night vision goggles) just so they can practice with us. And the second most powerful navy in the world is not that of Britain, but Japan, with India closing fast on third place. And the third most powerful air force in the world is … any US aircraft carrier, of which we have a dozen.

    Kouchner and his friends are very good at talking. I guess when it’s all you’ve got, you get good at it.

  5. Chris Hathaway says:

    I’m with General Patton on the French.

  6. APB says:

    2. Around 1815 or so.

  7. chips says:

    I think the French magic ended when Wolfe took Quebec around 1763.

  8. CanaAnglican says:

    I hope and pray that America is poised for a new era of great accomplishments to offer to the world. Our grandchildren have a great deal to offer and can build on our shoulders to far surpass what we have done — in education, health, energy, communications, transportation, and yes, even faith. It is a time for God to call faithful people to Himself and unleash their potential. It is a time for America to go far beyond magic, slight-of-hand, and cheap tricks and renew the solid contributions that are part of our gift to the world. If we have not so far lost our “magic”, I hope we can do so quickly, and move ahead with the “real.”

  9. Catholic Mom says:

    I’m with CanaAnglican. Who needs/wants magic? Let this country get on track with a real agenda. And its never too late for that. Let us get our house in order and keep it that way and the French foreign minister can worry about his own house.

  10. Chris says:

    from a guy whose country is being over run and torn apart by angry young Muslims, well, I feel for him….

  11. carl says:

    Brave words from France – this the country whose most significant martial achievement in World War II was to shave the heads of helpless women who slept with German soldiers. They served as a useful scapegoat to expiate the sin of a nation that collectively lifted its skirt and laid down before its conquerors. But the sin was not expiated. And what has France done since besides play the part of a degenerate syphillitic? The madness sets in as the disease runs it course.


  12. Cennydd says:

    When did France’s “magic” disappear? Does Dien Bien Phu ring a bell?

  13. Shumanbean says:

    My heart aches whenever I read of one of these french guys badmouthing us…how easily they forget the sacrifices made for them in the past. But when I read about their dubious relationships with a group like Hamas, I also remember what my grandmother said about sleeping with dogs and winding up with fleas.

  14. KevinBabb says:

    I will believe that “the magic is over” for America in the eyes of the world when the Border Patrol spends its time keeping citizens in (a al North Korea and Cuba) rather than keeping aliens out.

  15. Ratramnus says:

    The number of Frenchmen who died defending their country in 1916 alone exceeds the number of Americans, ever, in all wars, North and South, who have died defending this country or parts of its territory. So, I think the French had the magic pounded out of them in four bloody years of “The Last War Fought by Gentlemen.”

  16. Bill Matz says:

    For an honest, self-critical look at France, read Jean-Francois Revel’s “Anti-americanism”.

    The magic died in 1781, after the French fleet defeated the British in the Battle of the Capes, sealing the fate of Cornwallis at Yorktown.