Throughout my lifetime France has been synonymous with talking the talk, but rarely walking the walk. When it comes to paying for the return of hostages, offering safe haven to Islamists (the Ayatollah), refusing to allow its airspace to be used by other NATO countries or simply being intransigent and anti American at all times, France has shown a degree of immaturity in its dealings with the US and the UK.
Now don't get me wrong, I am no lover of all the things the US government does. but in the case of Iraq and the war in 2003, France had a chance to play a role in halting the war, getting it delayed or even making it clearer that the war was about regime change, not about WMD's. However, at the time the French intransigence allowed the US to paint France as being the bad guys and allowed the US to pursue its course of action without a second resolution by seeking to claim that France would not co-operate. however, things appear to be changing under Sarkozy.
For the first time, the French have grasped that whilst Iraq is a disaster, it is Afghanistan where the future fight against terrorism must be fought. he recently told the US congress that French troops would remain there for as long as is needed and on a visit to Kabul yesterday he seemed to hint that France might allow its troops to be used in the more volatile areas where further NATO troops were urgently required.
I had my doubts about Sarkozy, but he seems to lead with a smile on his face, without the usual smugness of a French leader and without the pompous self righteousness of the past.
Welcome France to the 21st Century. It is just a shame you are seven years late.