Anti-Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi protesters hang the French flag in Benghazi, Libya, Mar. 11, 2011. French President Nicolas Sarkozy faced increasing pressure from fellow leaders for suddenly giving a Libyan opposition group recognition.
"Toujours de l'Audace!"
Op-Ed, The Huffington Post
March 15, 2011
Author: Charles G. Cogan, Associate, International Security Program
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security
"Be bold, always!" This is one of the mottos of French culture. But there is a counterpoint slogan, which comes out of the cynical bouche of Prince Talleyrand, the club-footed but elegant lothario who was a survivor of the Revolution in France: "Above all, not too much zeal." ("Et surtout, pas trop de zèle").
Nicolas Sarkozy, French to his fingertips despite his heteroclite background (two parts Hungarian, one part Greek/Jewish and one part French/French), seems to have absorbed the first, but not the second, of the above two maxims.
As a British civil servant put it, as I interviewed him for my book on French negotiating behavior, the French like to take the floor first, come up with a grand idea or concept, and then let others to fill in the details....
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