FRANCE OUT OF TOUCH
Nicolas Baverez reviews Eric le Boucher’s Les New Miserables in the latest Foreign Policy. It’s a tightly written piece worth your attention. A couple of brief snippets:
Baverez’s thesis–that France is slow in adapting to new realities borne out of the fall of the Berlin Wall, technological developments, and globalization–is convincing as well as timely. Many of those who voted for French President Jacques Chirac in 2002 are now disappointed that he seems focused on foreign policy grandstanding at the expense of domestic policy and state reforms. The book also resonates with the business community, which has long believed that lazy government officials and public-sector unions stunt progress. “For the moment, we have no political project, or leaders to carry it out,” Baverez explained in a recent interview. “Neither American growth, nor Europe, will reform France today. It is up to the French to reform their country.”
After several paragraphs supplying evidence of that the government of France has not adjusted to the world in which it finds itself–politically, militarily, and especially, economically–Bavarez offers this succinct conclusion:
France no longer thinks about the future, but lives vicariously through the achievements of its grand programs of the 1960s and 1970s, such as the high-speed train, the Airbus, and nuclear power plants. But its industrial base is shrinking and its multinationals are in a fragile position, as illustrated by the demise of the Concorde supersonic airliner and by European opposition to French industrial subsidies. Indeed, some of the most powerful French multinationals now prefer to invest abroad.