PARIS – “Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor. They will have war.” Winston Churchill’s famous denunciation of the delaying tactics of the British and French on the eve of World War II should be a warning to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. In fanning vicious anti-immigrant passions for short-term political gain, he will have dishonor first and then defeat. For, although a majority of French today may be inclined to sympathize with Sarkozy’s immigrant-bashing rhetoric, there is no guarantee that they will re-elect him in 2012.
It is not so much Sarkozy’s performance as president that most Frenchmen reject; it is his essence. At a time of rising unemployment, with France dominated by fears about the future, the French need a reassuring father or mother figure, not a jittery and manipulative leaderready to compromise ethics and France’s proud tradition that every citizen is entitled to equal treatment under the law.