France’s hapless former prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, once told a Le Figaro journalist that what France really wanted was to be raped by a strong leader. “La France veut qu’on la prenne,” said the suave diplomat: France wants to be taken by force. While Villepin’s record for taking his nation’s temperature is pretty poor, it seems that on the matter of France’s deepest desires, he was probably right.
In some ways, Nicolas Sarkozy’s strategy—or posture—was to “take France by force.” His presidential campaign was peppered with pugnacious, coercive vocabulary. He claimed to be answering what he called the nation’s…
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