Tara McCormack slams France's new foreign policy team by arguing that it issuing Darfur to grandstand, to make a point about France’s power on the international scene. McCormack sees last week’s conference on Darfur in Paris as a worrying sign that foreign policy is disconnected from real politik and national goals. Sugary excerpt:
The conference was an example of the peculiar nature of much contemporary foreign policy. Today, foreign policy tends to be disconnected both from any national interest or a broader political framework (10). The aim of foreign policy among the big powers today is twofold: to try to establish a sense of moral purpose at home, and to create a framework of meaning through which international relations can be conducted. The content and lack of connection to anything that is actually going on is therefore largely irrelevant; the point of an event like Kouchner’s conference is the gesture itself. This is foreign policy as performance and grand gesture, something which Kouchner has long been a master of (11).
More broadly, the appointment of Kouchner as French foreign minister, and Sarkozy’s promises to keep Sudan at the top of his agenda, reveal that Sarkozy, in this one respect, really has adopted the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ model: compensating for a lack of any genuine political programme at home by using the international sphere to grandstand and gain moral authority.
I disagree with McCormack on her point about the disconnection of foreign policy form national interest for I think that increasingly in this age of terrorism, states are viewing the stability of countries, which are far away from as important to avoid creating rogue or failed states, which will then harbor terrorists. It is true that Darfur is a means to Sarkozy and Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister, to achieve the great ambitions for France and to restore its international prestige. However, it is unfair to say that it is only about grandstanding for it too soon to say whether the French approach to the conflict will yield results rather than a continuation of the same immobility. Foreign policy is usually about grandstanding and about creating an aura that will lead to actions and that will make the consequences for misbehavior severe. I share McCormack’s concerns about the possible implications of Kouchnerism for recent history has shown that interventionism may lead to catastrophes when it becomes the end of a foreign policy when the crucial issues always happened after the intervention. I like Kouchner and although I don’t like the fact that he had “to switch sides” to achieve his dream of becoming the head of French diplomacy, I think that he might surprise the world about how much a realist he turns out to be for after all the key is not really Kouchnerism, but Sarkozysm.